Inquiry in the Context of Discovery: A Research Philosophy

“Much of the work we do as scientists involves filling in the details about matters that are basically understood already, or applying standard techniques to new specific cases. But occasionally there is a question that offers an opportunity for a really major discovery.”  – Walter Alvarez

 This quote by Walter Alvarez describes the state of research in the field of marketing. Empirical research overtaking conceptual advances in the field of marketing research is an important issue (Yadav 2010). This issue can be addressed by envisioning new ideas, becoming aware of what is missing and why is it important, understanding what new questions can be answered through the new idea or entity, explicating the new entity and defining its scope, developing a new framework, relating different entities through differentiation or integration, and debating by advocating a new view or refuting an existing one (MacInnis 2011). Philosophically, my research is grounded in this view since it plays a substantial role in the discovery-justification continuum that influences the process of knowledge development (Hanson 1958).

I believe that “a scientist is not a person who provides the right answers but is a person who asks the right questions” (Anonymous). My research questions, in the context of discovery, attempt to explain and understand interesting and challenging marketing phenomena that have not received much research attention. I am interested in conducting research in areas that are less explored and the exploration of which would provide novel insights that would guide more future research in those areas.

In addition to this, I also believe that a requirement of an interesting theory is that it be of “practical import” (Zaltman et al. 1982, p.27). Marketing is an applied field and therefore marketing knowledge should be useful and relevant to marketers. There is a pressing need to “revitalise and reenergize the discipline and maintain its relevance to the contemporary world of practice” (Hughes et al., 2012). Thus, in conducting marketing research and generating new marketing knowledge, my effort is to integrate scholarly rigor with practical relevance.


  • Hanson, Norwood Russell (1958), Patterns of Discovery. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Hughes, Tim, Bence, David, Grisoni, Louise, O’Regan, Nicholas, and Wornham, David (2012), “Marketing as an applied science: Lessons from other business disciplines,” European Journal of Marketing, 46(1), 92-111.
  • MacInnis, Deborah J. (2011), “A Framework for Conceptual Contributions in Marketing,” Journal of Marketing, 75 (July), 136-154.
  • Yadav, Manjit (2010), “The Decline of Conceptual Articles and Implications for Knowledge Development,” Journal of Marketing, 74 (January), 1–19.
  • Zaltman, Gerald, LeMasters, Karen, and Heffring, Michael (1985). Theory construction in marketing: Some thoughts on thinking. New York: John Wiley & Sons.