Understanding marketing's philosophy debates: A retrospective on seven key publication events

Shelby Hunt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose - The purpose of this article is to chronicle the publication events in the 1980s and 1990s that framed the development of the series of controversies in marketing that are known as the "philosophy debates". Design/methodology/approach - The article uses a participant's retrospective approach. Findings - The article finds that seven publication events are key to understanding marketing's philosophy debates. The seven are the publication of the "little green book" by Grid, Inc. in 1976; the philosophy of science panel discussion held at the Winter American Marketing Association Educators' Conference in 1982; the special issue of the Journal of Marketing on marketing theory in 1983; three articles on the "critical relativist perspective" by the Journal of Consumer Research in 1986 and 1988; the "blue book" by South-Western in 1991; a trilogy of articles on truth, positivism and objectivity in the Journal of Marketing and the Journal of Consumer Research in 1990-1993; and an article on "rethinking marketing" in the European Journal of Marketing in 1994. Originality/value - Chronicling the key publication events enables readers to understand what the debates were about and provides readers a starting point for further investigating the issues in the debates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-378
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Historical Research in Marketing
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2014


  • Logical empiricism
  • Logical positivism
  • Marketing theory
  • Marketing's philosophy debates
  • Objectivity
  • Relativism
  • Truth


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