Negotiating incommensurability in marketing theory

Mark Tadajewski*, Jaqueline Pels, Michael Saren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This paper reviews the recent paradigm debates in marketing and reflects on the current pluralism of paradigms. It makes the case that a future important direction for marketing theory is multiple paradigm research; an avenue that has been widely explored in organisation studies, but as yet has had little extended treatment in marketing or consumer research. As a first movement in this direction, we review the debates that have taken place in organisation studies showing how the so-called “paradigm mentality” has been seen to hamper constructive debate across paradigms, whereby researchers from different paradigms can fail to agree on inter-paradigm standards of evaluation so that theory choice between the divergent outputs of two different paradigms cannot easily be resolved. We then turn to the incommensurability thesis. We question the veracity of the early incommensurability thesis apparent in Kuhn’s writing and the subjectivism that follows from Feyerabend’s interpretation of incommensurability, negotiating these arguments by drawing upon the Kuhnian concept of taxonomical lexicon, to suggest that learning alternative paradigms is similar to learning another natural language. By way of a conclusion, we reflect on the possibilities and problems associated with undertaking doctoral research using a multiple paradigmatic team brought together to contribute the distinct insights that each paradigm brings to the project.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances In Doctoral Research In Management
PublisherWorld Scientific
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9789812707246
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2006 by World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd.


  • Marketing theory
  • Multiple paradigm research
  • Paradigm incommensurability
  • Pluralism
  • Politics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Negotiating incommensurability in marketing theory'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this