ANZMAC Statement on Academic-Practitioner Gap
Approved by ANZMAC Executive Committee 28 November, 2021
The academic-practitioner gap is an important issue for the discipline of marketing in Australasia.
The question could be phrased as, “Is Marketing Academia Losing Its Way?”, posed as early as 2009 in an editorial of that title in the flagship journal of the American Marketing Association, the Journal of Marketing (Reibstein, Day and Wind, 2009). Many academics are uncomfortable with the idea of academia having lost its way in terms of being less relevant to business and society in general. For example, in 2021, an article in the Australasian Marketing Journal, written by a Head of the Discipline of Marketing at a major Australian university, calls for “(Re)Gaining Our Voice” because “Marketing academia in Australasia is facing unprecedented challenges to ensure the relevance and impact in modern business practices and public policy making” (Conduit, Lu, and Veer 2021).
If, as marketers, we look at the relationship between academics and practitioners as a market, our marketing theory and principles tell us of the need to understand the views of our target segments, and a new direction would be to collect evidence about how marketing practitioners actually think about marketing academia. A recent study to this effect based on interviews with marketing professionals, suggests that they perceive low managerial relevance of the research of marketing academics (Alpert, Brown, Ferrier, Gonzalez-Arcos, Piehler, 2021). Why the perceived low managerial relevance? The study finds four causes from the practitioners’ perspective: 1) low awareness of marketing academia, 2) non-existent or weak relationships with marketing academics, 3) low perceived benefits from marketing academics, and 4) poor communication by marketing academics (such as academics publishing their research as journal articles that practitioners find hard to read). The study concludes that marketing academia has a marketing problem in that it has a weak brand image with one of its key markets (practitioners). Findings like these are sounding an alarm bell.
Should ANZMAC stay silent on key challenges facing the field such as this, or should ANZMAC take a stand? The ANZMAC Executive Committee has made a formal statement on a current issue facing the discipline before. In 2012, the Australian Government controversially decided to end its Excellence in Research Australia journal ranking list as it was commonly (mis)used to set targets and production quotas on academic staff. ANZMAC issued a statement supporting the government’s actions stating “ANZMAC recommends that publication outputs will be assessed as much as possible on their individual merits, not just on the reputation of the journal in which they appeared.”
Given the commitment of our members to contributing to the betterment of society and engaging with our industry colleagues, we should take a stand on the issue of the academic-practitioner gap. We issue this statement not that we believe we have the power to solve the problem, but to highlight the issue and provide a statement that others can refer to as they seek to highlight the issue and work on solutions.
“The ANZMAC Executive Committee recognises that the academic-practitioner gap is an important issue facing our field at this time. Attention needs to paid, and a serious effort made towards addressing this issue.”
The general direction for a solution is common sense: “If we wish to change how academics view their own success [and, therefore, what they do], we need to look at changing the frameworks on measuring and assessing performance to refocus effort and attention on research activities that will deliver meaningful outcomes and lasting impact” (Conduit et al., 2021). We should know from the oft-cited article, “On the Folly of Rewarding A, While Hoping for B” (Kerr, 1975), that predominantly rewarding academics by the journal ranking of their publication while hoping for business and societal impact is more or less folly. We know that the ‘academic game’ has to change if different results are wanted. It is not for us to tell university managements specifically what they should do, but our purpose here is to highlight the importance of this issue and to urge action.
Alpert, F., Brown, M., Ferrier, E., Gonzalez-Arcos, C. F., & Piehler, R. (2021). Branding’s academic–practitioner gap: managers’ views. Journal of Product & Brand Management.
Conduit, J., Lu, V., & Veer, E. (2021). (Re) Gaining Our Voice: Future of Marketing in Australasia. Australasian Marketing Journal, 18393349211039100.
Kerr, S. (1975). On the folly of rewarding A, while hoping for B. Academy of Management journal, 18(4), 769-783.