The MSI Priorities: A Critical View on Researching Firm Performance, Customer Experience and Marketing
This paper critically addresses the underlying assumptions about the nature of individual firm performance in a competitive market economy and the role of the customer which is revealed in three of the 1998-2000 key research priorities promulgated by the Marketing Science Institute. It is suggested that the structure and content of the priorities reveals a central and continuing dilemma not only in the nature of marketing research but also in the marketing domain itself. The customer is framed as a subversive and rather hidden force whilst many of the critical issues in understanding the nature of competition are subsumed behind a general notion that success comes to those who adopt the basic tenets of marketing. It is argued that this unresolved issue lies at the heart of what might be termed the marketing project and continually threatens to destabilise the legitimate aspiration for research in marketing to be seen as a credible form of social science. Equally it raises difficult questions about the nature of the concept of relevance and therefore of institutions that attempt to both set and support particular research agendas such as the Marketing Science Institute itself.