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Rethinking Market Research: Putting People Back In

Gerald Zaltman

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Research methods are generally improved through new understandings of scientific procedure, validity, and reliability. Variations in these understandings—among knowledge communities as diverse as ethnographers, statisticians, historians, and even practitioners and researchers—yield a rich set of innovations in quantitative tools, experimental designs, data collection instruments, observational methods, sampling procedures, and interpretive frameworks. Research methods, however, must be consonant not only with the way various communities view scientific inquiry, but also with fundamental characteristics of the thought and behavior of customers and managers. Most widely used methods in marketing lack the latter consonance. The author introduces particular insights about thought and behavior from multiple disciplines as design criteria for improving research methods.