Behavioural economics and qualitative research a marriage made in heaven?

Wendy Gordon

Acacia Avenue Limited

Introduction

The relationship between academic theory and practice in the social sciences and commercial qualitative research has changed dramatically in the last five years. There used to be a huge and seemingly unbridgeable chasm between the two disciplines. A hefty 700-page textbook, The Handbook of Qualitative Research (Denzin & Lincoln 1994), was completely unknown to practising researchers, and probably still is. It makes no reference at all to commercial qualitative research or indeed any commercial context, and even fails to mention the ‘father’ of qualitative methods, the motivational researcher Ernst Dichter.

By 1997, the author predicted that although the worlds of academia and commercial research appear to be two worlds existing in different galaxies, ‘the two planets have influenced each other indirectly and will do so more directly in the future, due to the efforts being made today by many academic institutions and commercial organizations to exchange learning and practice’ (Gordon 1999, p. 20).