Special Issue: Journal of Marketing
Special Issue Editors: Shrihari Sridhar (Texas A&M University), Cait Lamberton (University of Pennsylvania), Detelina Marinova (University of Missouri), and Vanitha Swaminathan (University of Pittsburgh)
Scientific progress is fueled by findings that do not conform to existing paradigms. Such challenges to expectations set the stage for new paradigms to emerge. We propose that marketing is likely to be on the cusp of such a transformation, prompted by three sources of disruption:
- Pandemic- and Humanitarian Crisis–Driven Acceleration and Adaptation: The COVID-19 pandemic created an immediate and seismic shift in the global economy and health systems. Consumers were forced to grapple with health and financial/economic risks, often shifting their patterns of consumption as a result. In response to these changes, firms dramatically increased their investments in digital channels of communication and distribution. While some of these changes were simply accelerated, others were unanticipated. Similarly, humanitarian crises caused by war and geopolitical conflicts have shaken global economic systems, governmental policies, business strategies, and the lives of consumers worldwide. As such, we are now confronted with questions about whether such shifts in consumer and business markets are long-term changes and how companies, institutions, and consumers can and should deal with them.
- Technological Hyperconnectivity: Shifts in technology have resulted in a hyperconnected world, and consumers’ continuous access to information across multiple touchpoints has resulted in a data deluge for firms. On the one hand, the available data have helped firms increase their targeting and personalization capabilities and created opportunities for the emergence of new business models and ways to compete. On the other hand, these data have created new challenges, including data interpretation, management concerns, the spread of misinformation, and threats to privacy. New and continuously emerging technologies, such as augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence (AI), and smart technologies (e.g., digital voice assistants such as Alexa and Siri), are also facilitating new forms of relationships in consumers’ lives and workplaces, and we are only beginning to develop theory and recommendations about these relationships.
- Societal Fragmentation: The widening of social schisms provoked by extreme inequality in society has turned a brighter spotlight on economic and ideological polarization. Polarization can be examined from multiple perspectives, including through psychological (e.g., Lorenz, Neumann and Schroder 2021), social network, and sociological (Gitmez and Molavi 2022) lenses. Each presents an important topic of scholarly inquiry that is of relevance to marketing scholars.
This shift has challenged marketing in at least two ways. First, corporations are prompted to take responsibility for their potential contributions to the growth of inequality. Second, marketers have undertaken novel initiatives intended to alleviate some of these societal ills, including promoting consumption that supports equity and inclusion, embracing meaningful brand purpose, fostering economic health and entrepreneurship across socioeconomic strata through social marketing and bottom-of-the-pyramid strategies, amplifying critical and sometimes corrective voices, challenging entrenched power structures, and empowering consumer mobility.
Challenges to Scientific Progress Posed by a Disrupted New World
We believe that the shifts in the current environment have three key implications for scientific progress.
First, the assumptions underpinning existing paradigms and theories may be outdated. For example, the growth of temporary organizations has challenged our assumptions of a permanent organizational structure, and consequently, key theories of the firm need to be reassessed. The mono-stakeholder perspective (with its focus on investors and shareholder value maximization) is increasingly facing scrutiny by societal demands for a multi-stakeholder view of marketing (that includes customers, employees, governments, citizens, and other stakeholders), such that the primacy of shareholder value or firm profitability has been called into question. These changing assumptions challenge marketing’s existing frameworks and paradigms. For instance, results that derive from signaling theory maybe based on the assumption of information asymmetry. However, information asymmetry may no longer be an issue, as consumers now have access to vast amounts of information on the internet at relatively low search costs. Alternatively, new contexts are evolving that call for theories that are applicable to these contexts, and new technologies are enabling new actions and call for theories addressing and incorporating those actions.
Second, existing frameworks offer insufficient understanding of new phenomena. For example, as business-to-business selling has shifted toward technology-mediated platforms, salespeople can no longer apply old tactics (e.g., lunches, handshakes) but instead require new tactics, strategies, and tools to conduct transactions. Similar issues have emerged in business-to-consumer online retail, in which consumers can instantly negotiate with multiple retailers through live web chats or obtain help that is often AI-based, introducing new factors related to persuasion, information processing, delegation, and satisfaction experiences. Changes in labor markets—such as a shift toward remote work arrangements (brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic)—could result in long-term changes in consumption and lifestyles that have implications for marketers (Brynjolfsson et al. 2020). New frameworks are necessary to model these new phenomena.
Third, these changes mean that prior findings may provide inaccurate predictions. For example, social media has brought about new ways for word-of-mouth (WOM) information to be transmitted, as well as the scale of such transmission. Traditional frameworks or even those published five years ago may now offer insufficient guidance on questions faced daily: How can we identify and predict harmful content that goes viral, across sectors and cultural boundaries? How can we manage service failures gone viral, given the increasingly rapid news cycle and changes in sources of influence? How can we understand and evaluate brand-related WOM in such a way as to engage, retain, and empower employees?
Why This Special Issue and Why Now?
In this special issue, we challenge marketing scholars to reexamine, question, and, in some cases, even discard current paradigms and identify new ones that can help shed light on the new realities with which marketers are faced.
Submitted papers should not only describe the present landscape but also help set theoretical foundations for future study. As such, they should strive to achieve one or more of the following points:
- Create new theories or frameworks to reframe how we view specific phenomena.
- Examine previously underexplored theoretical relationships or processes.
- Identify new mediators or moderators of existing relationships or processes that reflect these disruptions.
- Extend previously demonstrated effects/frameworks to incorporate these disruptions.
- Create new theories in “white spaces,” where no theory exists to explain specific phenomena.
- Develop new constructs to reflect/represent new phenomena when existing constructs are unavailable.
We encourage authors to intertwine research aimed at discovery with research aimed at justification/validation to extend or modify old paradigms to arrive at “new paradigms for a new world.” This iterative process of discovery and justification can be accomplished through multiple methods (e.g., descriptive empirical analysis, interviews, surveys, field observations) and by moving between theory and observations.
Manuscripts will be judged by their ability to (1) offer a scholarly description of an important new-world phenomenon, (2) provide an accurate summary of the existing paradigm, and (3) offer a research-based case for paradigm augmentation or replacement. We welcome both high-quality conceptual papers grounded in some real-world evidence (these may be descriptive or model-free), as well as frameworks that are tested systematically using data. We also provide some questions subsequently that could serve as guiding exemplars.
Types of papers that are not acceptable for this special issue include pure literature reviews, case reports, and papers that provide only minor extensions to existing frameworks. Instead, papers should tackle substantive and real-world topics with theoretical rigor. Please contact any of the editors if you have any questions about the suitability of your manuscript for the special issue.
Special Issue Process and Timeline
All papers submitted to the Special Issue will go through the regular Journal of Marketing review process led by the current JM editors. All manuscripts should be submitted online at https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/ama_jm. The submission deadline is June 30, 2023.
The timeline of the special issue is as follows:
|Manuscript submission window opens||January 1, 2023|
|Winter AMA Special Issue Kickoff Session||February 2023||We invite scholars to attend a special session at Winter AMA that will feature published and unpublished exemplars of similar research by prominent marketing academics.|
|Manuscript submission window closes||June 30, 2023|
|Promotion of published articles||2024–2025||In addition to the regular promotion of JM articles, JM will feature short videos of articles in this issue.|
We welcome perspectives from the vantage points of firms, society/ public policy, and customers/consumers. The following table presents examples of a set of issues from each of these perspectives.
|Vantage Point||Example Research Topics for the Special Issue|
|The firm/marketing organization/brand/market perspective||Organizations: What will effective marketing organizations (and organization of the marketing function) look like in the future? What is the role of temporary organizations, and what will the marketing function look like within these temporary organizations? Alternatively, is marketing itself becoming an outsourced or temporary function? If so, what are the implications for firms?|
Networks/ecosystems: How can marketers leverage networks and ecosystems to enhance excellence and agility?
Market perspective: How did the COVID-19 pandemic change dynamics of markets and competition?
Organizing for purpose: How can brands leverage purpose to enhance their customer–brand relationships? How can purpose-driven organizations ensure that culture, people, and processes are aligned to maximize outcomes for various stakeholders?
|Society/public policy perspective||Understanding marketing’s societal impacts: What are the impacts of marketing on society? How does marketing affect society in a post-COVID-19 world? What are the implications of remote working arrangements on how consumers change their consumption preferences, and what are the consequences of this for society as a whole?|
What is marketing’s role in regulating privacy, mitigating disinformation, and minimizing harm to vulnerable populations?
Measuring societal impacts: What constructs, measures, and methodologies are necessary to measure and track marketing’s social impact more effectively?
Systems-level theories: How can marketing apply a systems-level view to understand these societal impacts?
|Customer/consumer perspective||Technology’s impact on customer relationships. How does technology mediate consumers’ relationships with companies, brands, and service providers? How has the COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally changed how different segments of consumers use technology to address different needs.|
Artificial intelligence (AI) applications and marketing outcomes. Given AI agents’ advanced information processing capabilities and labor cost advantages, the transition away from human representatives for administering product and services is likely to continue. What are the implications of applications of AI in marketing for customer response and satisfaction?
Marketing in the metaverse. How can firms combine virtual and human interactions to maximize customer satisfaction and enhance brand experiences? How do advances in augmented and virtual reality heighten customers’ experiences that optimally leverage their physical and digital worlds so as to enhance customer satisfaction?
Brynjolfsson, Erik, John J. Horton, Adam Ozimek, Daniel Rock, Garima Sharma, and Hong-Yi TuYe (2020), “COVID-19 and Remote Work: An Early Look at US Data,” No. w27344. National Bureau of Economic Research.
Gitmez, A. Arda and Pooya Molavi (2022), “Polarization and Media Bias,” arXiv preprint arXiv:2203.12698.
Kuhn, Thomas S. (1970). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Lorenz, Jan, Martin Neumann, and Tobias Schröder (2021), “Individual Attitude Change and Societal Dynamics: Computational Experiments with Psychological Theories,” Psychological Review, 128 (4), 623–42. https://doi.org/10.1037/rev0000291
 The team would like to thank Professors Christine Moorman and Ajay Kohli for their feedback and helpful comments on a previous version of this Call for Papers.
 In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (first published in 1962), Kuhn defines a scientific paradigm as “some accepted examples of actual scientific practice—examples which include law, theory, application and instrumentation together–provide models from which spring particular coherent traditions of scientific research” (p. 10).
Go to the Journal of Marketing