The Past and Future of Marketing Theory and Practice: A Tribute to the 50th Anniversary of the Academy of Marketing Science

Call for Papers: Special Issue of AMS Review
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This special issue celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Academy of Marketing Science, and coincidentally, marks the 10th Anniversary of AMS Review. These anniversary occasions an opportunity to reflect on the historical progress of the marketing discipline and to consider the challenges of the future.

Since its inception, academic marketing theory has evolved through several distinct eras— orientations and paradigms (see Shaw and Jones, 2005; El-Ansary, Shaw and Lazer, 2018), along with a range of theories, processes, and methods developed to explore an increasingly broad theoretical spectrum. Following much debate, it has also broadened its focus from for-profit to not-for-profit and public organizational phenomena (Kotler 2018).

Spanning this broad spectrum of theoretical perspectives has created challenges; several scholars have argued that the discipline is fragmented, with specialized areas and methods creating silos (e.g., Tamilia, 2011) leading to the ‘Balkanization’ of research and marketing departments (Steenkamp, 2018). Hunt (2020) has indicated that situation has given rise to the need for the reinstitutionalization of academic marketing in its next era (Hunt, 2020), one which refocuses the discipline on a common goal and to unify its fragmented research fields.

Several scholars (e.g., El-Ansary et al., 2018; Hunt 2020) have noted that, especially during the last 40-50 years, the focus of academic marketing theory has migrated from a macro-level perspective (e.g., marketing systems) to a primarily micro-level orientation (e.g., marketing management and consumer behavior). Ferrell (2018) has suggested that this narrow focus has
contributed to some parts of the marketing system (e.g., supply chain management) being taken over by other disciplines.

There have been calls to return some research priority to a macro-level perspective, and develop further understanding the systemic nature of value (co)creation through markets, including issues of emergence, evolution, and institutionalization (Layton, 2015; El-Ansary et al., 2018; Nenonen, Storbacka and Windahl, 2019; Vargo and Lusch 2016). This implies the adoption and
development of new analytical tools that support empirical analysis of complex systems at multiple levels of aggregation (Rand, Rust and Kim, 2018) over time. It also implies identifying “meta issues” to multi-level theorizing, allowing us to address competing assumptions and more richly foster the development subfield of marketing (Zeithaml et al., 2020). To integrate all of
this, it has been marketing not only need to rethink the purpose, models and theories, but also develop more general, meta-theoretical perspective (Webster and Lusch, 2013; Vargo, 2018).

At the same time, it has been observed that that academic marketing relied heavily on the importation of theory from other disciplines for inspiration and theoretical guidance (Baron, Zaltman, and Olson, 2017), but has developed relatively little indigenous theory and has exported even less to other disciplines (see, e.g., Hunt 2019; Key et al, 2020, Zeithaml et al,2020). Perhaps this non-exportation is especially noteworthy if, along with innovation (arguably, a marketing topic), marketing is one of only two essential functions of the firm, as indicated by Drucker (1954).

Clearly, this is a pivotal time for the marketing discipline as we deal with not only these discipline-specific, theoretical and practical issues but also with many emergent and contextual ones, such as the increasing rate of change in technology (especially digitalization, artificial intelligence, Internet-of-things, and biotechnology), globalization, and population expansion, driving a whole host of societal concerns elated to privacy, ethics, social responsibility, crises and pandemics, governance, and societal and environmental sustainability. Clearly, marketing, both academic and applied, must understand its essential responsibility in relation to these issues even as it addresses more traditional concerns.

The purpose of this special issue is to explore these and related concerns, with a primary goal of facilitating interdisciplinary dialog, considering the past and looking toward the future. A nonexhaustive list of possible topics follows:

  • Need and consideration for systemic and holistic perspectives on markets and marketing
  • Issues related to general/metatheoretical and other integrating perspectives of marketing theory
  • The role of marketing in times of crisis, including climate change, pandemics and geopolitical conflicts
  • Marketing theory for the sharing economy, Internet-of-things, e-commerce and other digitally enabled, systemic developments
  • Identification and development of additional analytical techniques, such as modelling, simulation, and multi-level analysis, needed to inform emerging marketing research streams
  • Issues related to the “re-institutionalization” of the marketing discipline (Hunt, 2020)
  • The need for and approaches to the (re)connecting the subdisciplines of marketing
  • Issues related to technological development, such as artificial intelligence, sensors, Big Data and data analytics, as it relates to potential positive and negative impact for academic and applied marketing as well as for society
  • Marketing theory and application with relevance for business development, CEOs and decisions in the boardroom
  • Historical perspectives on the future development of marketing
  • The conflict between practical and academic relevance in marketing publication
  • Issues related to the need for and development of grand and unifying theories

Review Process and Timeline 
Note: The special issue has a very tight review and decision schedule.
Unless manuscripts are submitted before the deadline, they will only be able to go through one full review cycle before a final decision (e.g., conditional acceptance) is be rendered. Thus, early submission is strongly encouraged. However, promising manuscript that need further development will be considered for a future issue.

Submission of full manuscripts on AMSR’s online submission system:
May 15, 2021 (papers will be processed as they are received) 
First editorial decision and reviewer comments: June 30, 2021 
Revision due date: Aug 15, 2021
Final editorial decision: Sep 1, 2021
Final copy due: Oct 1, 2021
Publication: Dec 2021

Editorial Team
Stephen L. Vargo, EIC
O.C Ferrell, Guest Co-editor
Bo Edvardsson, Guest Co-editor
Jodie Conduit, Guest Co-editor

For additional questions regarding the special issue, please contact the editor, Stephen L. Vargo, at

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