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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
The role of the Academy of Marketing
Article Type: Viewpoint From: Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Volume 26, Issue 3.
As Chair of the Academy of Marketing I thought I would take the opportunity to share with you some of the activities of the Academy and how we are working to position it within the wider business and management community. This then gives me the chance to reflect on how the Academy may evolve and in particular to think about some aspects of marketing education and their relationship to practitioners.
With around 600 members the Academy of Marketing is the largest learned society representing marketing academics in the UK. Our flagship event is the Annual Conference which is held in July and regularly attracts over 300 delegates. Our reach goes well beyond the UK and, for example, at the conference in 2007 hosted by Kingston University at Royal Holloway College we had 35 countries represented. Our friends and colleagues from Australia and New Zealand have been particularly supportive of our conference for almost ten years. In addition to the conference the Academy has two major sub-committees covering research and education, both reporting to the executive. There is a network of Special Interest Groups (SIGs) which now number 18 and represent diverse specialisms from sport to politics, branding to ethics. A network of regions also exists covering the whole of the UK and Ireland. Inevitably, academic time and enthusiasm for SIGs and regions varies over time and is further moderated by the fashionable popularity of sub-themes within marketing.
The Academy has evolved from its original formulation as the Marketing Education Group and is now maturing as a learned society. It is increasing it connections to other professional bodies and is particularly aligned with the Chartered Institute of Marketing. In addition, as Chair of the Academy of Marketing, I sit on the Advisory Board for the Business, Management, Accountancy and Finance Subject Centre (BMAF) of the Higher Education Academy. Part of the successful collaboration with BMAF by the Academy of Marketing Education SIG has been to create teaching research and development grants. These are in their first year and it has been very encouraging to receive 16 applications for funding. Most are seeking funding of up to £3,000 and deal, for example, with the student experience, international students and innovative teaching methods.
These grants now sit alongside the well-established research grants (which did not exclude teaching issues) but having both sets available to our members is seen as a major part of the Academy's contribution to the discipline.
The Academy has, since 1994, organized a doctoral colloquium prior to the annual conference. This has grown in importance and reach. PhD students, not only from the UK, take advantage of the opportunity to expose their ideas to peers and to experienced marketing academics. This contribution to capacity building for the wider marketing academy is invaluable.
What about the future? It is expected that the Academy of Marketing will develop in various ways. The directions will largely be influenced by the members and the fresh talent that is always welcomed on to the executive. Clearly the ability to influence national policy agendas and decisions is a crucial role for the future and over this last year the Academy has been meeting and co-operating with colleagues in the British Academy of Management and other learned societies to help shape the research agenda for business and management disciplines, especially in connection with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Having the opportunity to join with other bodies and to influence the capacity building agenda, to help update the list of reviewers used by the ESRC and to comment and respond to policy initiatives as a group is potentially a very powerful mechanism. This is most definitely an area of activity that the Academy should develop.
The Academy has long benefited from a relationship with the Journal of Marketing Management and in 2008 has begun an alliance with Emerald in connection with the European Journal of Marketing. Initially this has involved co-operation in selecting new editors for the journal but could lead to further synergies in linking the publishers to events at the annual conference to help develop new academics in the area of writing for publication. Clearly, these kinds of alliance allow income to be generated for the Academy. These income streams together with membership subscriptions and an annual contribution from the conference host allows the Academy to support its membership through the SIGs, regions, research and teaching grants as outlined. In doing so, we fulfil our mission to advance marketing knowledge as a rounded discipline and profession but what of those future marketers that both educators and practitioners can have a major influence on?
In many ways the best marketing experience we as educators can give our students, be it at undergraduate or postgraduate level, is the hands on experience of a real or live marketing project. In preparing our students for this much can be gained from the more traditional case study and the increasingly technology-driven simulation games. However, the experience of receiving a brief from a client and having to respond to it in “real time” while working in a group is for many a significant learning experience. This is especially true when in the debate they have to think on their feet and justify a chosen course of action or recommendation to a client who may well have a healthy suspicion of the value of the “consulting” advice she/he is receiving, all under the watchful eyes of the tutor. In my view this experience makes a huge leap in preparing our future graduates for employment. It is true that while across the sector we are more aware of personal development planning, employability and related enhancement themes, it is still the case that the bulk of our teaching is focused on the knowledge delivery aspect of learning. More could be done across the curricula we teach to embed skills in our graduates. Part of this will involve a modernization of our learning and teaching methods and technology will play a role in influencing not only what we deliver but also in what ways we deliver it. Blended learning has been more usually associated with distance learning but, increasingly, we will be finding opportunities to utilize such techniques with our full-time cohorts. Part of the reason for this is the changing needs of our students, their increased diversity, and not just because of widening access, but because the world they will have grown up in will have altered considerably from that which we as educators grew up in. Their world will have been occupied by play stations, wi-fi, virtual worlds, downloading and social networking. Their experience of how to learn in schools will significantly alter their expectations of what to expect in places of higher and further education. A diet of one hour lectures scattered across a week and a discursive seminar group with the odd video/DVD thrown in is not going to turn them into the independent critical learners we might desire.
At least part of this evolution should be based on greater engagement of our marketing departments and business schools with the local business community. As in any walk of life we have the full spectrum of views on the benefits we as educators and our students can bring to the world of business. To move us forward some preconceptions, misconceptions and biases, natural or otherwise, need to be left behind so that the engagement of academic and practitioner can be more fully appreciated, understood and constructively developed. Achieve this and add in some time, valuable and scarce as it is and some basic funding for projects, and you have the ingredients for creating the marketers of the future who will have developed their skills initially working with local businesses and in conjunction with their academic tutors. Great marketers have to start somewhere, why not in this way and perhaps we will help create more companies with the marketing touch of people like Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic!
In all of this journals like Marketing Intelligence & Planning (MIP) provide a valuable and unique platform for the interaction and crossover between academic and practitioner. This middle ground is not an easy place to be but the opportunity to engage and support the exchange of ideas on theory and practice is a vital contribution to the academic and practitioner communities. As academics we have many claims on our time and many demands on how we should be relevant to those we seek to educate. Part of our challenge is to push the boundaries of marketing knowledge, question existing epistemologies and to contribute to the research agenda within the wider business and management community. At the same time, our students seek relevant, interesting programmes that will provide them with a foundation for future employment; and practitioners, if we work at it, will seek our insights and advice as consultants to provide ways of managing change. All of these dimensions of the job are interrelated and to some extent can feed off and stimulate each other. The challenge for marketing is to harness this energy and through the activities of our Academy of Marketing and journals such as MIP to promote learning that addresses the needs of our students and practitioner colleagues. We must be prepared to develop our learning techniques by engaging with dynamic technologies and networks, and we hope that one of the Academy's most recent innovations teaching research and development grants will contribute directly to this process.
Andrew McAuleyUniversity of Stirling, Stirling, UK</>