Explaining empirically successful marketing theories: the inductive realist model, approximate truth, and market orientation

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Some marketing theories are empirically successful, while others are not. When a marketing theory is empirically successful, is its success a result of miraculous good fortune or something else? For example, market orientation (MO) theory has been empirically successful: it explains and predicts numerous marketing phenomena. What explains the empirical success of MO theory? This article furthers the development of the philosophy of science foundations of marketing research by detailing the recently developed, “inductive realism” model of theory status and using the model to articulate scientific realism’s approximate truth as an explanation of the empirical success of marketing theories, in general, and MO theory, in particular. This article (1) briefly reviews the approaches to explaining the empirical success of science, with particular emphasis on scientific realism’s “no miracles” argument in favor of the approximate truth explanation, (2) discusses the problems associated with realists’ efforts to conceptualize “approximate truth,” (3) focuses on MO as a case-example of an empirically successful marketing theory and develops a “partial formalization” of MO theory for analysis purposes, (4) details the new, “inductive realist” model of theory status and applies the model to MO theory, (5) shows how the model accommodates the fact that, at times, sociological/political factors influence theory acceptance in science, (6) discusses whether political or other inappropriate factors have influenced MO theory’s success, (7) discusses the inductive realist approach to approximate truth and applies it to MO theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-18
Number of pages14
JournalAMS Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • Approximate truth
  • Inductive realism
  • Market orientation
  • Philosophy of science
  • Scientific realism
  • Theory acceptance


Dive into the research topics of 'Explaining empirically successful marketing theories: the inductive realist model, approximate truth, and market orientation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this