Marketing as an Applied Science


Jan-Benedict E. M. Steenkamp's speech and slides as he accepted the 2021 AMA-Irwin-McGraw-Hill Distinguished Marketing Educator Award


Author: Jan-Benedict E. M. Steenkamp’

Irwin Award Speech

Marketing is an applied (professional) science and we should cherish that!

[Slides here]

At the Summer conference of the American Marketing Academy, I gave my acceptance speech for receiving the 2021 AMA-Irwin-McGraw-Hill Distinguished Marketing Educator Award. It is generally considered the highest award for marketing scholars, and is awarded to one person each year. I am honored to have received it. In my speech (PPT below), I argued that marketing is an applied (or: professional) science whose goal is to train students to better understand the domain of their profession and to become better marketing managers. In an applied science like marketing, relevance is of much greater importance than for a “pure” science. Without relevance, an applied science withers. And we are in good company. Engineering, medicine, law are applied sciences. We want a doctor to know how to heal us and a civil engineer how to build a bridge. And a marketing manager to be effective & ethical.

That marketing is a  professional science brings with it important benefits for marketing scholars such as higher salaries but also important responsibilities, the most important being that we need to give back to the hand that feeds us, i.e., business: i.e., do research that informs our students and firms. I further reflected upon the importance of publications as well as impact in making a career in marketing academics, and argued that 1) journal reputation matters; 2) that it is continuous (=not all journals are the same); and therefore, 3) dichotomization of journals into A (=count for P&T) vs. non-A (hardly count, if at all) is simplistic, discouraging, and underestimates that we are in the business of marketing knowledge creation. Great marketing knowledge is created in A’s as well as in a wide range of solid other marketing journals.

While there are challenges ahead, it is profoundly heartening to see that in my lifetime, marketing as a science has spread from the U.S. to virtually everywhere in the world.