Marketing is not respected as an academic discipline for the very good reason that it isn't. Merely being taught at a university does not make something an academic discipline. No one would dare assert that typing, swimming, and videotape editing should be so considered. Simply being called "professor" does not make one a scholar.
Most teachers do not even think of themselves as scholars whose subject for study happens to be that phenomenon called marketing. Instead, they think of themselves as marketing professionals who happen to work in a classroom instead of in a business. They do not detach themselves; they empathize.How many can say they objectively view marketing activities with the same disinterested, scholarly curiosity with which the anthropologist studies a primitive tribe, or with which the biologist watches the microbes squirming under a microscope? More directly, if marketing educators were scholars, they would not discuss the value of their education programs solely in reference to their ability (or inability) to train students for entry-level jobs.
Although the liberal arts form the basis for the vast bulk of our college and high school programs, it is rarely claimed that their importance to education is based on the course materials being necessary for future employment; English literature, Roman mythology, and understanding the 100 Years War are not considered necessary tools for everyday existence. Yet, it is obvious that the "educated people" ought to be able to best understand the world around them and how it exists, how it came to be, and so on.Education for its own sake is an important ingredient for the working of our popular democracy; the people best able to adapt to the world around them are those with the greatest (and broadest) exposure to variations of that world. If all that marketing education is capable of accomplishing is training students to be practitioners, there should be serious doubt about its value to the university campus. Yet, to listen to many deans and faculty, one starts to feel that the departments exist with the sole intent of taking over the business' intern and training programs.
The important point
is that we are talking about a potential academic discipline which
studies a pervasive aspect of American society. Its worth should not be
gauged solely by whether
the student plans to seek employment in that field.
Viewing education as job training, many marketing educators behave as supplicants, not scholars, when dealing with industry groups. Business teachers beg then for advice. Professors betray a feeling of dependence upon them, a sense of inferiority.This is not suggesting that relations with practitioners be ended. There is no doubt that there is much that can be learned from the best of them. An anthropologist can't study a culture without contact with the natives. But educators must keep constantly in mind that their business is teaching, not business. A scholar cannot share goals, viewpoints, and values with practitioners. An educator should not be the businesses' representatives on campus, nor their recruiting officers or defense counsels.
No doubt many practitioners would be outraged by this, but it is hoped that others would applaud.
Educators should work for society, not industry, based upon the belief that they serve society by serving truth. To the extent that the educators become preoccupied with serving as job trainers, they fail to qualify as scholars.