Doctoral Programs in Marketing: Why Aren’t They Used More In The Business World?

Let me begin with a big, fat WOW.  I want to give a HUGE thank you to Bill, Sarah, Jenny, Rhonda, and everyone at WithumSmith+Brown for the outpouring of enthusiasm for last week’s post.  It was shared on the firm’s Facebook and Twitter pages, and generated 152 views on Tuesday.  That’s over 100 more views than my previous record.  I’ll tell you what, I love marketing for accounting, and I would love to market for an accounting firm someday.  But for now, I’ll just write about it.  Thank you all again for the support.  I look forward to hearing from you all soon.  🙂

Well, I mentioned last week that I was finishing up the semester at Marist College, where I’m pursing an MA in Integrated Marketing Communication.  It’s a brand-new online program, and it’s been absolutely wonderful.  I’ve learned so much about IMC and the theories behind how different marketing elements, from traditional to digital media, can be synergized to connect to customers in meaningful ways.  Here’s the website to learn more about the program:

During my class in social media strategies, one of my classmates private-messaged me on Twitter and asked me if I had considered pursuing my doctorate.  He thought I was well-suited for it.

I will admit, I briefly considered it.  After all, to obtain a PhD means you’ve obtained the highest possible degree in your field, and you’ve even, perhaps, pushed the boundaries of knowledge of the subject just a teeny bit.  It’s a huge achievement.  Also, I sounded the title “Dr. Nappo” a few times and kinda liked the ring of it.  But, alas, I answered my classmate with a “no”.  To me, pursuing a doctorate means more or less surrendering my soul to academia, going into research and teaching for the rest of my life.  And I simply don’t want to do that.  I want to work.

That question, however, sparked another one in my mind.  At the end of a doctoral program, universities require a dissertation from their participants, focusing on any given marketing topic.  If you examine the list of winners of the
John A. Howard/AMA Doctoral Dissertation Award, you’ll see such diverse topics as “User-Generated Content and Performance”, “A Dynamic Model of Sponsored Search Advertising”, and “Customer Brand Identification as a Sustainable Competitive Advantage”.

My question is, why aren’t dissertations such as these used more in the world of marketing?

So many times on Twitter, I get my news from Forbes, The New York Times, Business Insider, CNN, among others, and they often get a quote from business professionals about the topic of the article.  But I never see doctoral dissertations being cited or even being the basis of an article.  It seems to me that the intention of the author of a dissertation is to expand the boundaries of knowledge of the topic, so that he/she can offer new insights to everyone who would benefit, be it marketing professionals, strategists, executives, and researchers.  And these dissertations are unbelievably insightful pieces – I’ve read through a couple of them.

Also, doctoral candidates work incredibly hard to research their topics and devise theories that haven’t yet been covered by practical experience in the business world.  But this brings up another point – why can’t dissertations become integrated more often into the industry when they’re first published, such that the dissertations predict industry trends before they occur?  Often, trends are predicted based on stock charts, sales performance, product introductions, etc.  What if the marketing industry at large was better connected to doctorate-granting institutions across the country and the world, and vice versa, so that doctoral candidates could serve the industry in ways that weren’t exclusively academic?

The American Marketing Association (AMA) outlines on their website dozens of universites worldwide that grant doctoral degrees in marketing.  Each of those universities have professionals or former professionals on their faculty who most likely have a wide extended network of connections that are still in the business world.  If universities would leverage these connections more, such that a greater connection is formed between the academic and business worlds, then dissertations would play a more vital role in predicting business trends.  For example, perhaps institutions could develop relationships with journalists from trade magazines, websites, and business journals, in a way that’s not to dissimilar from a CEO develping his reputation through thought leadership.  I always have faith in the connections between everything in the world of business, and I strongly believe if universities make these kinds of connections, it will improve their reputation as a credible school of thought, and could even drastically change the state of marketing as we know it.

What do you think?  Do you have any experience with doctoral programs in marketing, or do you know someone who has?  Do you feel that academia and the business community should form stronger bonds?  Sound off below or find me on Twitter.

I’ll talk to you next week.  Until then, enjoy the nice weather, when you get it where you are!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s