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We examined three approaches to research in marketing: exploratory hypotheses, dominant hypothesis, and competing hypotheses. Our review of empirical studies on scientific methodology suggests that the use of a single dominant hypothesis lacks objectivity relative to the use of exploratory and competing hypotheses approaches. We then conducted a publication audit of over 1,700 empirical papers in six leading marketing journals during 1984-1999. Of these, 74% used the dominant hypothesis approach, while 13% used multiple competing hypotheses, and 13% were exploratory. Competing hypotheses were more commonly used for studying methods (25%) than models (17%) and phenomena (7%). Changes in the approach to hypotheses since 1984 have been modest; there was a slight decrease in the percentage of competing hypotheses to 11%, which is explained primarily by an increasing proportion of papers on phenomena. Of the studies based on hypothesis testing, only 11% described the conditions under which the hypotheses would apply, and dominant hypotheses were below competing hypotheses in this regard. Marketing scientists differed substantially in their opinions about what types of studies should be published and what was published. On average, they did not think dominant hypotheses should be used as often as they were, and they underestimated their use.
Date Posted: 06 July 2006