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EMAC 2020 Annual Conference

Empirical Generalizations in Marketing Performance Management

Published: May 28, 2019


Alexander Edeling, University of Cologne; Tammo Bijmolt, University of Groningen


The current state of marketing research is characterized by two ongoing trends. The first trend is an increasing tendency to carve out the value relevance of strategic marketing initiatives. The marketing function is running the risk of losing influence compared to other corporate functions (Homburg et al. 2015), and marketing expenditures are among the first corporate outlays to be cut when the economic situation worsens (Van Heerde et al. 2013). Hence, it comes at no surprise that the demonstration of the impact of marketing actions on financial outcomes is the number one C-suite communication challenge for marketers (The CMO Survey 2019).

The second trend refers to the self-conception of the field as a “science”, i.e., a discipline that “seeks to provide generalized explanatory statements about disparate types of phenomena” (Bass 1993, p. 2) and thus pursues to identify “lawlike relationships” (Ehrenberg 1968, p. 280). The aim of a particular stream of research within marketing science is to derive empirical generalizations, i.e., patterns or regularities that occur in different circumstances (Bass 1995). For managers, empirical generalizations are valuable since they allow a synthesis of an almost unmanageable amount of “single-case empirics” (Hanssens, 2018, p.6) and thus a condensed dissemination of scientific knowledge into practice. Hanssens (2015) compiles 123 of such empirical generalizations, which are based on large-scale empirical studies or meta-analyses of primary research. For scientific research, such systematic reviews are equally important as they provide platforms for novel conceptual frameworks, offer other (especially novice) researchers a “state-of-the-art” snapshot, and provide directions for future research (Palmatier, Houston, and Hulland 2018).

The core objective of this special session is to bring together researchers interested in the most recent empirical generalizations related to marketing decision-making and firm performance. The first article, titled “What Drives Online Touchpoint Effectiveness? A Meta-analytic Comparison of Different Touchpoint Types” by Lütjens and Eisenbeiss, integrates results on the determinants of the effectiveness of major digital marketing touchpoints, including corporate websites, search engine advertising, and social media advertising. The second article “A Meta-Analysis of Firm Crisis and its Performance Outcomes” by Borah, Sharma, and Rubera is a quantitative synthesis of the firm-crisis literature, testing a comprehensive framework that captures the multiple paths through which firm crises influence firm performance. The third paper is titled “The Impact of Sports Sponsorship on Shareholder Value: A Meta-Analysis of Event Studies”, and co-authored by Bijmolt, Gijsenberg, Koning, and Walraven. The study is the first meta-analysis of event studies in the marketing literature and focuses on sports sponsorships. Finally, the fourth paper “Evolution of Research on the Marketing-Finance Interface: New Metrics, Methods, Findings, and Future Directions” by Edeling, Srinivasan, and Hanssens is an updated systematic review article on the so-called marketing-finance interface, i.e., the area of research that investigates the relationships between marketing-related variables and metrics incorporating the behavior of financial-market participants.