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Academic Year 2013/14

Number of Aston Credits: 15 Number of ECTS Credits: 7.5

Staff Member Responsible for the Module:

Professor Nick Lee, Marketing Group

Aston Business School Building, Room 229, Extension 3152 Email:

Availability: please sign up at Or please see Darshan Kitare, ABS 218, Extension 3147 Or contact the Marketing Group Administrator

Samantha Doidge ABS236 Email:

Pre-requisites for the module:


Module Objectives and Learning Outcomes:

This module is primarily designed to prepare students to conduct their dissertations in marketing, or to conduct rigorous research in their later careers. Furthermore, the course should help all students deal with research in their later career choices. More specifically, managers and research professionals require an understanding of the research process itself, as well as the underlying concepts involved in research, in order to have confidence in the results of any research they may conduct or commission. The course is academically-focused rather than specifically concerned with ‘market-research’ (etc.) such as that done in agencies. Academic thinking is a skill which has wider benefits to students that simply learning the latest ‘marketing fad’. It teaches students to think originally and conceptually, and analyse in a critical manner, rather than follow a ‘cookbook’ to solve problems. These are the key skills needed for senior management. If you do not believe me, please ask a senior manager that you know what the key things separating the best senior managers from the rest are. The module has two main pedagogical objectives, a) to prepare students philosophically for doing their dissertation and other research in the future, and b) to prepare students technically for doing and evaluating research (e.g. in later life as well as dissertation).


Student learning objectives are:

a) To develop detailed knowledge of the research process in general, and the various approaches available. This objective should be achieved by preparing for, and attending, class and tutorials, by reading the suggested texts and should be reinforced by the project work.

b) To develop an understanding of the options available to researchers in various research settings, and the implications of choosing one option over another. This objective should be achieved by preparing for, and attending, class and tutorials, by reading the suggested texts and should be reinforced by the project work.

c) To encourage critical thinking about marketing research. Here, the focus is on evaluating the utility of different research approaches, and to identify alternative routes in order to better meet the research objectives. This objective should be achieved via class and tutorial preparation or attendance, and critical reading. It is reinforced by the project work.

Link to Module Level Outcomes:

This Module is linked to B1, B2, B3, B4, C1, D1, D2, D5

Module Content:

It is important to note that the content of this module is quite unique, and thus there is only one textbook which fully covers all areas in the required depth (the required reading, written by Dr. Lee). This book is an essential purchase. Read the reviews on if you are unsure whether it is worth purchasing. Additional course readings may also be given when appropriate. However, at the beginning of each lecture, Dr. Lee will advise on which of the readings is most important for the coming week.

Required readings for each lecture are from the book ‘Doing Business Research’ (DBR), and are indicated below. Students must read the DBR readings before each lecture, as well as any relevant additional readings. Additionally, it is anticipated that academic articles will be used for tutorials, these will be given to students as and when necessary. Week Lecture: Topic & Preparation

1 What is Science? Introduction to Scientific Method and Philosophy of Science. (DBR chapters 1, 2)

2 Alternative Philosophical Frameworks for Social Science ((DBR chapters 3, 15) 3 Reviewing the Literature (DBR chapter 4)

4 Theory Development, Hypotheses, and Conceptual Models (DBR chapter 5) 5 Research Design (DBR chapter 8)

6 Data Collection (DBR chapter 9, 11) 7 Survey Design (Course reading in pack) 8 Measurement Theory. (DBR chapters 6,7)


Corporate Connections:

While this course is primarily concerned with academic research, its content has been developed with input from senior market research executives on both client and agency sides. As a result key methodologies and concepts are covered which are applicable to professional and academic marketing research. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, the skills of conducting original academic research are vital to your progression as a senior manager – i.e. the ability to think for yourself.

International Dimensions:

In today’s environment, international and cross-cultural research is conducted as a matter of course. As a result, these issues are covered where relevant. This can be in examples used, cases examined, or the lecture content. It is my belief that the international dimension of research cannot be realistically ‘shoehorned’ into one dedicated lecture and then ignored. Thus, international aspects of research are covered holistically throughout the course and introduced where relevant.

Contribution of Research:

Leading-edge academic research contributes to this module throughout the year. Prof. Lee has made a significant contribution to research methodology through publication and academic seminars, particularly in the fields of measurement and quantitative methods. Many of the concepts covered in the course are directly drawn from his recent work and that of other leading colleagues within the field.

Method of Teaching:

The module is taught by a variety of techniques including Lecture and Tutorial. The course will consist of 8 formal lectures delivered in Term 1, as well as a revision week in week 9. Lectures will present the key conceptual, methodological and theoretical aspects of research methodology. These are supplemented by Tutorial sessions, which may involve practical exercises related to the lecture topic, or case work. The topics of the tutorials are never confirmed prior to the start of the course, due to the ever-changing nature of the research environment. However, it is anticipated that a considerable number of these tutorials will involve reading and evaluating academic articles, in order to help students prepare for their dissertation. Where relevant, preparation for these sessions is required and candidates are expected to demonstrate their ability to apply their knowledge and understanding of key issues and concepts. In order to fully benefit from the course, reading the appropriate Chapters and course pack readings prior to the class is expected. Any further reading will be made available in good time for preparation.


Ethics, Responsibility & Sustainability:

In the study of marketing science, students must take due regard to ethical considerations and the impact these will have on all stakeholders involved in a project.

Sustainability and corporate responsibility is a recurring theme running through all marketing modules and it is expected that students will integrate these topics in relevant areas of the module.

Method of Assessment and Feedback:

In order to best achieve the pedagogical objectives of the course, the course will be assessed in the form of one individual assignment, worth 70% of the marks and one individual presentation worth 30% of the marks.

The individual assignment will be in the form of an ‘ARTICLE THEORY CRITIQUE AND EXTENSION’. Full details (including the marking schedule) will be given to students during the early lectures. However, in brief, students will be required to select one piece of academic literature, approved by Prof Lee, and develop a detailed academic critique of that article, including the philosophical perspective, theoretical development, and contribution of the findings to theory. Instructions will be given in more detail in the assignment brief. This assessment will be worth 60% of the total marks.

Students will be expected to apply what they have learned from the course (not only lectures, but readings and tutorials) to the project. Furthermore, reading outside the specific lectures should be evident in good projects, and students will be expected to do some ‘self-directed’ study in order to achieve good marks.. Furthermore, students should find this project of substantial help to their efforts to produce a dissertation.

The individual presentation will be structured as a ‘CONFERENCE PRESENTATION ROLE PLAY’. Full details (including the marking schedule) will be given to students during the early lectures. However, in brief, students will need to prepare and give a 15 minute presentation based around their individual article critique assignment. However, the content of the presentation should in this case also focus on the methodological aspects of the article, and present an alternative methodology for investigating the extension of the article set out in the individual assignment. This assignment will be worth 40% of the total marks

Learning Hours:

Over the ten study weeks of this module, students are expected to spend 150 hours in classes, tutorial sessions, reading, class preparation and preparation of coursework. An indicative balance of student workload is as follows:


Pre-reading 15

Lectures 15

Tutorials/ Surgery Sessions 15 Directed reading / Class Prep. 35 Project Preparation 40 Presentation Preparation 30

Total 150

NB: The breakdown of hours presented is not necessarily indicative of actual timings, and may be adjusted in-line with module learning outcomes

The following readings are subject to change. Students should not

therefore purchase textbooks prior to commencing their course. If

students wish to undertake background reading before starting the

course, many of the chapters/readings are available in electronic form

via on-line library catalogues and other resources.


The following articles will be interesting and useful to you, in orienting yourself to the idea of marketing as a field of scientific research, and key issues in social science itself. They present different views on the issues, and the list is designed to give you a variety of perspectives, and things to think about when you begin the course.

You may also want to prepare by reading the first 3 chapters of the course textbook. Bagozzi, R. P. (1984). A Prospectus for Theory Construction in Marketing, Journal of

Marketing, 48 (Winter), 11-29

Bagozzi, R. P. and L. W. Phillips (1982). Representing and Testing Organizational Theories: A Holistic Construal, Administrative Science Quarterly, 27 (3), 459-489 Charlton B. G. (2009). Editorial: Why Are Modern Scientists So Dull? How Science

Selects for Perseverance and Sociability at the Expense of Intelligence and Creativity. Medical Hypotheses, 72, 237-243

DiMaggio, P. J. (1995). Comments on “What Theory is Not”. Administrative Science

Quarterly, 40, 390-397.

Einstein, A. (1934). On the Method of Theoretical Physics. Philosophy of Science. 1 (2), 163-169.

Feynman, R. P. (1974). Cargo Cult Science. Engineering and Science. June, 10-13. Fuat Firat, A. (Ed) ‘Commentaries on the State of Journals in Marketing’, Marketing


Gummesson, E. (2006). Qualitative Research in Management, Addressing Complexity, Context, and Persona. Management Decision. 44 (2), 167-179.

Lee, Nick and Gordon Greenley (2008) From the Editors: The Primacy of Data? European

Journal of Marketing, vol 42(11/12).

Lee, Nick and Gordon Greenley (2008) From the Editors: The Primacy of Theory.

European Journal of Marketing, vol 42(9/10)

Lee, Nick and Gordon Greenley (2009) From the Editors: Being a Successful and Valuable Peer Reviewer. European Journal of Marketing, vol 43(1/2).

Lee, Nick and Gordon Greenley (2009) From the Editors: What Makes a Good Article? Generating an Insightful Manuscript. European Journal of Marketing, vol 43(5/6). Lee, Nick and Gordon Greenley (2010) The Theory-Practice Divide: Thoughts of the

Editors and Senior Advisory Board. European Journal of Marketing, vol 44(1/2). Meehl, P. E. (1978). Theoretical Risks and Tabular Asterisks: Sir Karl, Sir Ronald, and the

Slow Progress of Soft Psychology. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 46, 806-834.

Nagel, Thomas (1974). What is it Like to Be a Bat? The Philosophical Review 83 (4), 435- 450.

Senior, Carl, Nick Lee and Michael Butler (2011) Organizational Cognitive Neuroscience.

Organization Science. Vol 22 (3) 804-815

Sutton, R. I., and B. M. Staw (1995). What Theory is Not. Administrative Science

Quarterly, 40, 371-384

Weick, K. E. (1995). What Theory is Not, Theorizing Is. Administrative Science Quarterly, 40, 385-390

Essential Reading:

The course text is:

Lee, N with Lings I (2008) Doing Business Research, Sage

This book is specifically written for this course, by me. Students are required to read the relevant chapters and would be well advised to purchase the book as soon as possible. Additional essential and advanced reading is given on the reading list on blackboard.





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