Well this weekend ends a very busy and insightful week. On Monday I made my way to Coventry for the 2010 Academy of Marketing (AM) Conference being hosted by Coventry University Business School. The theme of the conference was ‘transformational marketing‘ – the role of marketing in driving organizational, social, community and environmental change. So I was hoping to see a few papers talking about digital media in marketing driving this type of change.
For those that don’t know, the Academy of Marketing (AM) is our national body of marketing academics and it’s core purpose is the advancement in marketing knowledge through research, education and scholarly activities. It tries to foster links with practitioners, research councils, funding bodies, professional associations and offer guidance to marketing academe in the pursuit of our activities. For example, the AM has a research committee, shared by Dr. Nina Reynolds, with the mission to inform and be part of the debate of developing professional research practice in marketing academe. This is becoming incredibly more difficult in current times. As an academic, your life is often torn in many differing directions, undertaking many numerous, complicated and sometimes very mundane tasks – in education, research and administration. Would I say that the AM Conference is our annual highlight? Well, it’s not like a Christmas or birthday party or your annual holiday (Yes, academics in HE only get 3-4 weeks a year). But it is most certainly a time when marketing academics come together to present their work to each other, catch up and network.
So each year we meet somewhere across the country to exchange ideas, present work we are currently working on and network with fellow academics in our respective fields. I’d like to say that we get into heated debates about the work we are presenting and end up drawing numerous equations or thematic maps on a white board. However, like most areas of modern life, we too are heavily scheduled and squeezed into short time silos with usually only 15 minutes allocated to each presentation, with probably enough time afterward for 1 or 2 questions. Most discussion about research occurs during the coffee breaks, in the evenings at social events and in the taxi on the way back to the conference hotel. So, in essence this is more of a networking event for the young and eager early career researcher (what we call a ECR); a time to catch-up with old friends (for those more established who are vying for promotion); and a chance to offer advice or mentor others coming through (for those well known names who grace the inside covers of some of our leading journals).
A number of things to note about marketing academics, we are many and varied. Some come from practitioner backgrounds, others from academic and education. Some are good, some are great and some are like most industries, still trying to figure it all out. One thing that does define us, we have diverse research interests – no two are ever the same! The conference this year had over 400 delegates presenting in the fields of consumer behaviour, business to business, marketing education, electronic and interactive marketing, sales and key account management, retailing and channel management to name a few. Reflective of not just the scope of our marketing field, but also how marketing has increasingly fragmented so incredibly over the last 20-30 years.
As in most years the papers and presentations are of varying quality, with some of more interest than others. Two in particular I paid attention too was the work of Dr. Paul Harrigan and James Seligman from Southhampton Management School, on the new DNA of Marketing Education; and Dr. Bev Hulbert from the same institution on the Evolution of Technology and Marketing. In brief, I was fortunate to listen to and meet this group of colleagues, who like myself, think marketing education in the HE sector needs to evolve beyond the current education curriculum focused on tired and out-dated frameworks and models of the 60′s, 70′s and 80′s … curriculum that doesn’t take into account the the impact Digital and Electronic resources have had on not just marketing practice over the past 20 or so years, but also on markets and the individuals who make up these markets.
This means what we educate and how we deliver it in HE requires not just to evolve … but a total new way of thinking about higher education in management and business disciplines like Marketing.
So after 4 days of networking, attendance at the AM research committee meeting, sitting in on fellow colleagues presentations, drinks at the Herbert Art gallery, a visit to Warwick Castle and a black-tie dinner in a motor muesum … the Academy of Marketing conference for 2010 came to an end and I made my way back to Cardiff Business School. A little tired, but also a little more inspired by my fellow colleagues at Southhampton whom recognise the impact digital media has had on not just marketing or marketing education, but individuals and their everyday lives.
Developing our understanding of Digital Media Literacy in marketing through critical research embedded in methods such as observation of the development of digital media strategies, community participation and netnography, discourse analysis of what our professional bodies (e.g., CIM, IDM, FEDMA, WAA) are certifying as digital professional practices is critical to understanding this New DNA of Marketing that Southhamptom presented.
Just like Darwin observing the species was critical to mapping his evolutionary theory … so too is it critical for marketing academe to observe and record marketing’s digital evolution.