Presidential Address Academic Appalachia and the Discipline of Consumer Research

[ to cite ]:
(1994) ,"Presidential Address Academic Appalachia and the Discipline of Consumer Research", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 21, eds. Chris T. Allen and Deborah Roedder John, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 1-7.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 21, 1994      Pages 1-7



Terence A. Shimp, University of South Carolina

[I appreciate the helpful comments of Chris Allen, Mike Barone, Randy Rose, Elnora Stuart, and Joe Urbany. David Sprott deserves recognition for his diligent library work. Most of all, I am indebted to my wife and friend, Judy, for bearing with me while I fretted over having to deliver this speech.]

In this city whose music tradition personifies much about the glitter and individuality of the late-twentieth century, it would be tempting to draw parallels between country music and the practice and scholarship of consumer behavior. I intend to draw parallels, but not between Nashville and consumer behavior.

I turn instead to the east of Nashville, to the area of Tennessee that is part of the region and culture of what is broadly called Appalachia. Although there is no consensus on the exact boundaries of the Appalachian region (Philliber 1981), one widely accepted specification includes all of West Virginia plus parts of 12 other statesCNew York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. The area many Americans typically identify as Appalachia consists of portions of four states known as Central Appalachia: southern West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, eastern Tennessee, and western Virginia (Raitz and Ulack 1991). It is this Appalachia to which I refer hereafter.

Appalachia is prized for its physical beauty. The area is perhaps even better known for its economic depression, isolation, and backwardness. Coal miners, hillbillies, moonshine, rundown homes, dilapidated vehicles, and runny-nosed children are all part of the caricature and, sadly, the reality of this region. The word Appalachia is, in fact, virtually synonymous with poverty, as personified by the so-called "war on poverty" in the 1960s during Lyndon Johnson's administration. The image and reality of Appalachia confront most thinking and caring Americans with particular shame and indignity, because the richness of this country surrounds the poverty of this subsegment of its people.

Lest I confuse you into thinking that this address deals with poverty and rural plight, let me quickly note that this is not my purpose. Rather, my reference to Appalachia is strictly metaphoric. This metaphor provides me with a springboard for characterizing the discipline of consumer research, as I see it, and for discussing and evaluating some of the pressures for change.

I hasten to note that the Appalachian metaphor is imperfect. Certainly, the discipline of consumer research is not impoverished; this hall is filled with dozens of individuals who would perform with distinction in any of the social or behavioral sciences.


In what sense, then, is the metaphor appropriate? Answering this question requires a brief review of one aspect of the history of Appalachia. Appalachia, unlike other areas in the United States, has a rather unique pattern of in- and out-migration: more people have left the hills than have been attracted to Appalachia. Most of the people who live in Appalachia were born and raised there. These are people who knew no other way of life, who enjoyed, or at least tolerated, their existence, and who were unwilling or unable to leave. They never knew prosperity or security for long. The bad times inevitably chased away the good in a sad twist on Gresham's law of currency. Above all, however, these mountain people maintained a deep sense of pride and an indomitable spirit.

Then there were those who sought better opportunities elsewhere. They learned the three Rs in elementary schoolCreading, riting, and rithmeticCand traveled a fourth R, a road with a route number, away from their homes and toward more economically vibrant cities: Akron, Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, or more recently, Atlanta, Birmingham, Charlotte, Houston, and so on. These out-migrators sought a better life for themselves and their families. The beautiful hills and valleys of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia could no longer support these wanderers. On to the big city, on to jobs in the mills and automobile plants, and on to a life of fulfillment and economic sustenance, or so they hoped.

We have in this description a parallel for the discipline of consumer research. On the one hand, we can remain in our academic Appalachia and be content with who we are and what we are. We can study consumers for the sake of understanding and appreciating consummatory activities without concern with whether outsiders are aware of our work or like what we do. Many in this audience will never leave the hills of academic Appalachia. Along with the proud people of West Virginia, their implicit motto is montani semper liberi, which translates into "mountaineers (are) always free." Consumer researchers, in accord with this philosophy, should always be freeCto do exactly what we want to do, regardless of the implications (if any) that our work might have.

The other alternative is to seek a way out of academic Appalachia, to head for another venue, one less idealistic and more pragmatic. Forsake the mountains, forego the freedom. As a discipline, we are being told that there is a road that will take us away from our quaint and possibly indulgent existence. It is not a road with a route number, like the ones traversed by actual Appalachian people on their way to the industrial Midwest or Northeast. This road does not have a number, but rather a name: Route Relevance.

Route Relevance is not a new road. Scholars before us in psychology and elsewhere have been urged to take Route Relevance. Earlier decades of social psychologists, for example, were told to take Route Relevance toward a life of greater social impact (for a variety of views, see Bevan 1982; Blank 1988; Duetsch 1980; Gergen 1973; Masters 1984; Mayo and LaFrance 1980; McGuire 1973; Miller 1969; for a similar perspective in the marketing literature, see also Dawson 1971).

What is Route Relevance for consumer researchers and the business schools in which most reside? Why are we being told to take Route Relevance? Where does it lead, what does it promise?


In the Beginning

Research conducted in B-schools until the 1960s was largely very pragmatic and atheoretical. It dealt with mundane business problems. In a sense, it was relevant.

Then the famous, or perhaps infamous, Ford Foundation (Gordon and Howell 1959) and Carnegie Corporation (Pierson 1959) reports were published. Both reports criticized research in business schools for being excessively descriptive, lacking in analytical rigor, and failing to produce theoretical generalizations. In as bitter a blow as imaginable, Gordon and Howell (1959, p. 6) proclaimed:

"What passes as the going standard of acceptability among business schools is embarrassingly low, and many schools of business do not meet even these low standards."

Influenced by these reports, business-school professors moved in the direction of increased sophistication and, in a sense, became less relevant. We in marketing and consumer behavior turned away from business practitioners and toward fellow scholars around campus for theoretical ideas, analytical tools, and perhaps even our source of approbation.

We became part of academic Appalachia, a community of relatively isolated scholars doing our own thing and doing it well. We sharpened our skills and honed our craft; we even attracted into the fold scholars from other disciplines and benefitted greatly by their addition. No more could we be accused of being atheoretic, unsophisticated, or purely descriptive. Very few people outside of academic Appalachia knew, or cared, what we were doing, however. We were up in the hollows of the Appalachian hills doing our own thing.

And Now: A War on (Alleged) Poverty in Academic Appalachia

But the situation began changing in the mid-to-late 1980s. The economy deteriorated, American corporations became less globally competitive, and jobs were lost. The conditions were ripe for attack, and attacked we were. The B-school became the whipping boy of critics in the mass media. Detractors caricatured B-school research as trivial and largely irrelevant (e.g., Byrne 1990; Porter and McKibbin 1988). The criticism was not restricted to B-schools. Some cynics aimed their sights more generally at the academy at large and alleged that American institutions of higher education were neglecting their teaching duties and conducting irrelevant research (e.g., Anderson 1992).

Criticism also came from within our own academic Appalachia. Wells (1993) in "Discovery-Oriented Consumer Research" referred repeatedly to the crisis of relevance inherent in consumer research. Lutz (1991) had pretty much said the same thing in his outgoing editorial as JCR editor. So had Sheth (1992, p. 348) in a review of the consumer behavior literature when he said:

My retrospective analysis leads me to conclude that this impressive output in consumer research has had, unfortunately, an equally unimpressive impact among marketing practitioners, policy makers, and the peer disciplines.

The call for greater relevance is now an inescapable element of the consumer research landscape. We are being urged to leave academic Appalachia, to travel Route Relevance, and, in today's vernacular, to "get a life."


It is easy for critics to claim that consumer research needs to be more relevant. It is not quite so easy to mount a counter-argument. Who wants to be irrelevant? Or, as Jacoby (1985, p. 158) pointedly stated,

[I]f one chooses to do work that has no relevance, one cannot later complain too loudly if one's work is not taken seriouslyCeven if by other scholars.

However, before we as a discipline too readily accept relevance as a worthy road out of academic Appalachia, we must first consider where that road might take us. I do not claim to have all the answers, but I think the following comments will move us closer to engaging in meaningful dialogue.

Relevance: Of What, To Whom?

Relevance is, by its very nature, an inherently vague concept that lacks semantic validity and suffers nonuniform usage. (For general commentary related to these points, see Zaltman, Pinson, and Angelmar 1973, p. 43 and Bagozzi 1980, pp. 118-119.) Users of the term appear to supply the concept with three implicit properties: They first have in mind a target, insofar as relevance naturally suggests some specific outcome or use for someone. Relevance also implies, albeit somewhat less directly, a certain form of contribution, such as research results having actionable implications for managers. A third property is the suggestion of a time frame, which typically is expected to be a contribution that is realizable sooner rather than later.

But precisely what do critics mean when they say consumer research should be more relevant? And relevance for whom: marketing managers (which managers? which industries? which business types?), public policy officials, consumers themselves, society at large?

Figure 1 attempts to place the concept of relevance in broader perspective. The figure identifies various types of outputs that are generated by consumer research/scholarship and also distinguishes plausible constituencies. Four research products are classified as empirical (PE), theoretical (PT), methodological (PM), and critical (PC). Only the last requires comment. Consumer researchers engaged in critical scholarship provide probing commentary on issues of managerial or societal importance. While this form of scholarship pales in its occurrence compared to more conventional consumer research, it certainly represents a legitimate and needed output (Shimp 1993). The relevant constituencies, or markets, for consumer research include businesspeople (MB); fellow academics (M"); educational audiences (ME) at undergraduate, masters, and doctoral levels; public policy officials (MPP); and society at large (MS).

The concept of relevance is greatly expanded and transfigured when considered in this fashion. What most critics probably have in mind when encouraging B-school professors and consumer researchers to journey Route Relevance is to make our research more applicable to the needs of business. Based on this perspective, cells R1-R4 in Figure 1 are the most prized output from our intellectual factories. However, Figure 1 makes it clear that a variety of other forms of relevance are no less important.

Academic Relevance. It could be argued that relevance to fellow academicsCcells R5-R8 in Figure lCis of utmost importance. This may seem self-indulgent, but in actuality it is purely pragmatic: a discipline and its association cannot be sustained unless its members are intellectually satisfied. This requires, first and foremost, that published articles examine interesting phenomena and raise provocative questions. Moreover, these articles must attain the conventional standards that positivistic consumer researchers demand (cf. Cook and Campbell 1979) and fulfill the trustworthiness criteria interpretive researchers expect (cf. Wallendorf and Belk 1989; see, however, Holt 1991 for an alternative perspective).

Teaching Relevance. In this era of ever-increasing importance attached to teaching, consumer research must also be relevant to the needs of the various student groups who take consumer behavior courses. The needs of doctoral students are most easily satisfied inasmuch as their expectations are closely aligned with their professors'. Undergraduate and master-level students typically have educational interests, however, that are more similar to those of the business employers they shortly will pursue for jobs. Hence, the critic likely would argue that truly relevant consumer research (translation: that which is relevant for business) also is relevant for students. This would seem to suggest that research relevant to academics is less relevant to all non-doctoral students than is research that is relevant to businesspeople. A challenge to this argument would assert that relevance for academics is also relevance for students inasmuch as bright, competent, and energetic teachers/researchers are capable of showing how academic consumer research is applicable to the needs of business and hence to the needs of students. The parties to this debate would not readily reach agreement.



Public-Policy and Social Relevance. The framework in Figure 1 further recognizes that a full-service consumer research discipline also would generate products that fulfill the relevance needs of public policy officials and society at large. These empirical, theoretical, and other research/scholarship products need not be the same as those that achieve relevance for business constituencies. In fact, relevance for public policy officials would be expected to address questions that are different from, if not diametrically opposed to, the types of questions that are relevant for businesspeople. Being relevant to society at large, including consumers themselves, would involve conducting social marketing research along the lines discussed by Andreasen (1993), would address the dark side of consumer behavior as confronted by Hirschman (1991), and, in general, would force the discipline to "think big" in the words of Richins (1993).

Is Consumer Research Irrelevant to Managers?

The foregoing discussion has identified the various forms of relevance that a full-service consumer research discipline would have to satisfy. Let me relax this sweeping conceptualization and, in so doing, address only the issue of managerial relevance. Putting aside the broader issue of whether consumer research should be managerially relevant (cf. Holbrook 1985, 1986, 1989; Jacoby 1985; Pechmann 1990), the present emphasis is one of whether consumer research is managerially relevant.

What requirements must managerially relevant consumer research satisfy? First, in the terminology of the validity network schema (Brinberg and Hirschman 1986; Brinberg and McGrath 1985; Lutz 1989), the substantive domain vis-a-vis the conceptual and methodological domains must receive relatively high priority in the inception of a research project if that project is to have relevance. Stated more prosaically, relevant consumer research would study issues that confront marketing managers.

Methodological suitability is a second fundamental requirement. Research methods must be up to the task of generating findings that managers can depend on when making decisions. Advocates of managerial relevance would argue against laboratory research and would generally oppose the use of student subjects (cf. Wells 1993). They may claim that external validity is paramount, but their argument would fail to recognize that external validity is an issue of generalizability and not of relevance per se (cf. Calder, Phillips, and Tybout 1981; Cook and Campbell 1979; Lynch 1982). To wit, a trivial finding may generalize across populations, and in that sense possess external validity. An important finding may be highly relevant to a particular organization but have no relevance whatsoever to other organizations.

Hence, if managerial relevance is to become a key aim for consumer researchers, then the standard Cook and Campbell (1979) desiderata (internal, construct, statistical conclusion, and external validities) that have guided experimental consumer research and provided direction for more recent interpretive work (in the guise of trustworthiness criteria) would have to be adjusted to include an expanded role for relevance. But this necessarily would require some hard tradeoffs. Clearly, internal validity might often be sacrificed. So, contrary to intuition, would external validityCone company's relevance is another's irrelevance. Managerially relevant researchCthat is, research capable of contributing to the solution of managerial problems or directing specific actionsCmight ultimately take the form of consulting projects. But, as Herbert Simon (1967, p. 8) instructed:

The managers themselves are far more qualified than outsiders, whether professors or not, to handle the short-run, practical problems that require intimate knowledge of the business.

Do We Really Want to Travel Route Relevance?

In making the above statements, it may appear that I am taking a decidedly "feline," Holbrookian position (Holbrook 1985, 1986, 1989) and opposing the countervailing "canine" views introduced by Jacoby (1985), Pechmann (1990), Lutz (1991), and Wells (1993). This is not the case. I see merit on both sides of the issue. However, my challenge to the advocates of managerial relevance is threefold:



First, as discussed above, managers are not the only target market that should command the intellectual attention of consumer researchers. (See Wilkie 1981 for an insightful discussion of the drawbacks of excessive emphasis on managerial relevance.)

Second, in calling for more (managerially) relevant research, there has been a tendency to place the blame on alleged methodological deficiencies (e.g., laboratory experiments with student subjects) rather than criticizing researchers for their failure to adequately address the substantive domain. The method is not the problem. Surely there is a legitimate role for laboratory experimentation in contributing to the understanding of real-world problems and processes (cf. Henshel 1980; Mook 1983). Duetsch (1980, p. 98) perhaps has stated it most eloquently:

[T]he research setting does not determine the relevance of the research conducted in the setting (the ideas or theory determine the relevance) .... Research of no theoretical significance can be done anywhereCin the laboratory, a school, or a factory. Similarly, research of considerable theoretical significance can be done in a school, factory, or community as well as in the laboratory.

There is a third reason why the plaint of irrelevance is simplified. The critics of academic research (e.g., Anderson 1992; Byrne 1990) contend that only a small number of people read academic articles, and this, supposedly, is because these articles are pretentious, too difficult to read, or deal with trivial topics. What the critics fail to acknowledge is that the knowledge diffusion process does not end with the printing of a journal. Journals such as JCR are not typically read by managers, public policy officials, or the public at large. But articles in journals are not hypodermic needles that are intended to be infused directly into the veins of ultimate users. The knowledge diffusion process is more involved than this.

Figure 2 depicts the alternative ways by which the theoretical, empirical, and methodological products of academic journal articles might ultimately influence business practitioners and other users of academic consumer research. As noted, it is a rarity for practitioners to be directly influenced by the output of journal articles. Yet publications in JCR and in other consumer research outlets reach students who later become practitioners. These publications also filter down to practicing managers via textbooks, practitioner-oriented periodicals, seminars, consultations, executive programs, and expert witnessing. The knowledge diffusion process is far from immediate, but gradual progress is all that should be demanded in view of the inherent complexity of the phenomena studied in the substantive domain of marketing and consumer research.

Because there are multiple channels of distribution that carry the output of academic consumer research, it is disingenuous to chastise academic articles on the ground that no one reads them or their content is too obscure. A legitimate claim of irrelevance is not to be obtained from attacks on journal obscurity anymore than it can be derived from criticisms of the methods used in conducting consumer research.


All said, I nonetheless think that most consumer researchers would like to consider our work as potentially capable of having impact outside the academy. Yet, as educators and scholars we do not wish to serve a particular master. The term relevance fails to capture this duality, because inherent in its usage is the expectation that academic consumer research will serve someone's needs. Relevance has effectively lost any impartiality it once may have possessed. Due to this value-ladenness, a different concept of academic-practioner relations is neededCa concept that captures our desire to have impact while simultaneously maintaining, in the words of Pollay (1986), our independence as scholars of the marketplace rather than servants to marketing practitioners.

I would like to introduce an alternative concept, a concept I will call representation. To fully explicate this concept, I first need to provide some brief historical context. In particular, it is my belief that much consumer research (including some of my own) has done little more than test theories borrowed from other disciplines. (See Cohen and Miniard 1993 and Olson 1981 for further development of this point.) The consumer has been a virtual afterthought. A consumption-like topic (e.g., an advertising context) is selected to legitimize the undertaking as consumer research. In actuality, any other behavioral domain would have been appropriate, because the borrowed theory is typically omnibus in its explanatory intention and robust in its prior empirical support. The result is that the theory test may contribute to a better understanding of another discipline's theory, but only incidentally is the outcome a better understanding of actual consumer behavior or development of original consumer theory (cf. Olson 1981; Sheth 1992; Wells 1993).

Representation as used here is similar to the principle and practice of representationalism in art, which involves the depiction of an object in a recognizable manner (Bernheimer 1961). [Appreciation is extended to Kent Grayson, Northwestern University Ph.D. student, for introducing me to the concept of representationalism in art.] Art according to Plato was imitation. My usage of representation captures a similar idea, namely that consumer research needs to focus far greater emphasis on imitating, or representing, the consumer behavior that occurs within the milieu of actual marketplace phenomena. As such, the concept is fully in agreement with other consumer researchers' views about the need for increased attention to substantive issues (see Brinberg and Hirschman 1986; Kernan 1979; Lutz 1991; and Wells 1993) and implicitly also pays tribute to Cialdini's (1976) concept of full-cycle research.

Representation does not eschew the use of other discipline's theories. It does, however, subordinate these theories to the role of instruments rather than the primary objects of empirical inquiry.

The ultimate objective of representation-based research is the development of theory about actual consumer behavior that may serve the needs of all markets interested in consumer research: academics, students, businesspeople, public policy officials, and society at large (see Figure 1). Representation thus converges with relevance insofar as both concepts are fundamentally concerned with impact. It, however, diverges from relevance in that representation recognizes its impact via the theories, concepts, and methods that evolve from research, whereas the traditional concept of relevance expects the findings from specific research undertakings to have actionable implications for end users. Moreover, the concept of representation, unlike that of relevance, fully accepts legitimate roles for laboratory research and other forms of research that some may consider impractical.

The concept of representation is idealistic in that it takes the position that the fundamental and abiding purpose of consumer research is to acquire understanding and knowledge of consumer behavior. Shelby Hunt (1991, p. 31) stated this position compellingly when describing the role of scholarly marketing research:

The prime directive for scholarly research is the same for marketing as for all sciences: to seek knowledge.... At some times, the knowledge may assist marketing managers in making decisions. At other times, the knowledge may guide legislators in drafting laws to regulate marketing activities. At still other times, the knowledge may assist the general public in understanding the functions that marketing activities perform for society. Finally, at the risk of 'waxing philosophical', the knowledge may simply assist marketing scholars in knowing, a not inconsequential objective.

The concept is pragmatic in that it endorses a close relationship between consumer researchers and practitioners. It fully accepts the value of working with practitioners, as well as with consumers themselves, to generate ideas about consumer issues and actual problems practitioners confront in their interactions with consumers. Wendell Garner (1972, p. 942) said as much when addressing the American Psychological Association two decades ago:

It is self-evident that the scientist doing applied research must maintain effective communication with the problem solvers, the people who apply the knowledge. I want to argue that it is just as valuable for the scientist doing basic research to have communication with the people who have problems that need solution.

My argument that representation is a more worthy pursuit for consumer researchers than relevance is not at odds with Bagozzi's (1992, p. 355) position that "we should resist the temptation to over-manage the direction of the field." The concept of representation offers a general approach to research, but it makes no effort to specify the types of issues or marketplace phenomena that consumer researchers should study. This determination must be made by each researcher on the basis of her or his personal and institutional utility functions. I also share Jacoby's (1985, p. 162) view that one is in an untenable position when arguing for a dominated research strategy. My position is not that other approaches (e.g., pure theory testing) are inappropriate. Rather, the point is that they have dominated consumer research and that more balance is needed at this juncture in the development of the discipline.


I want to return to the Appalachian metaphor for several closing thoughts.

First, the discipline of consumer research may now be experiencing some of the malaise that characterizes the economic depressed situation in Appalachia. Are we growing and getting better? Are young, creative, and bright people continuing to be drawn to the field? Is consumer research regarded with respect in colleges of business and elsewhere on campus? Are we even taken seriously by our nonbehavioral colleagues in marketing departments? My position is that the answer to all of the above will be affirmative so long as we employ a representation style of inquiry. In so doing we will address interesting questions about the incredibly dynamic and exciting marketplace in which consumer behavior occurs, and we will be developing insight into a consumer behavior that has a face rather them merely illuminating other disciplines' faceless theories.

A second closing thought returns me to the earlier point about generations of people leaving the mountains of Appalachia in pursuit of more prosperous lives in industrialized urban centers. Because those most likely to leave were the young and economically mobile, Appalachia suffered deeply from out-migrations. As a discipline dedicated to interdisciplinary research, we must assure that we retain our young and mobile by not mandating a certain form of research and stifling intellectual creativity. This likely will mean that those of us who are older (and tenured) will have to fight battles with college administrators, who ever-increasingly are insisting on managerially relevant research. We will have to convince them that the real issue is whether the research is representative, not relevant per se, and whether it holds promise of eventually impacting business practitioners and other important constituencies through any of the multiple channels of influence represented in Figure 2.

Third, consumer researchers need not depend on other disciplines to provide us with research grist or approbation for what we do. We have a lot of important things of our own to study. The mundane stuff we study (cf. Kassarjian 1978) is the stuff that determines in large part whether people are happy or sad, whether they have jobs or not, and whether they honor or destroy the environment. All we need do is turn to our own substantive domain to generate interesting ideas that will keep us gainfully occupied for as long as the marketplace remains dynamic.

Fourth, just like the infamous late-nineteenth century conflict between the Hatfields of Logan County, West Virginia and the McCoys across the river in Pike County, Kentucky (who fought and died for 15 years over the disputed ownership of a pig), the field of consumer research has had its periods of internecine throes: interpretivists versus positivists and critics versus adherents of laboratory research. Just as the Hatfield versus McCoy conflict led to no positive outcome, the same can be said when arguing for a dominated research methodology.

As a discipline, we need not tolerate any bias against laboratory research, ethnographic studies, or any other form of research on the ground that the method lacks relevance. The issue, rather, should be one of evaluating whether the subject matter is worthy of studying (i.e., is it representative?) and determining whether the method is suitable for tackling the question at hand. The discipline of consumer research is best served when alternative paradigms are accepted and respected. West (1991, p. 39) captured this philosophy when characterizing the persona of the independent-minded inhabitants of Appalachia:

Despite strong Calvinistic influences, and unlike Puritan New England, the mountaineers never tried to force their beliefs on others. No one was persecuted for holding different beliefs, nor for disbelief. No 'witches' were burned. One might be a church member or one might not. One might even be an outspoken unbeliever. That was a free man's right.

Finally, we consumer researchers, just like the Appalachians characterized in the next passage (Best in Ergood and Kuhre 1991, p. 3), must be careful that we are not defined by someone else for their interests:

[T]he worst thing that has happened to Appalachians in the past is that we have been deprived of our identify. We have been defined by missionaries for their purposes; coal, timber, and railroad barons for their purposes; government bureaucrats for their purposes; and lately by middle-class radicals for their purposes.

The beauty of the discipline is that we have been free to examine most any topic related to the phenomena of consummatory activities. We must be more representative in what we study. By being representative we will truly move toward better understanding actual consumer behavior. We will have impact, because our theories will have value for the various constituents who are interested in consumer research.

We need not, however, relinquish our freedom.

I say in closing, montani semper liberi! Hopefully, so too will consumer researchers!!

It has been my honor to serve as ACR president. Thank you very much.


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