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Dealing with challenges to methodological pluralism: the paradigm problem, psychological resistance and cultural barriers

Midgley, Gerald; Nicholson, John; Brennan, Ross


John Nicholson

Ross Brennan


This paper calls for methodological pluralism in industrial marketing research. We discuss three challenges that proponents of methodological pluralism have to address if their practice is to be seen as credible: the paradigm problem; psychological resistance; and lack of cultural readiness to accept pluralism. We review the works of a variety of authors from other disciplines who have tackled these problems, and identify useful ideas to take forward into a model of learning. This addresses the paradigm problem by making it clear that no pluralist methodology can exist without making its own paradigmatic assumptions. It deals with psychological resistance by talking in terms of learning, starting from wherever the researcher is currently situated (a large knowledge base is not needed to begin practicing methodological pluralism). However, this model does not deal with the question of whether the time is right, culturally, for methodological pluralism. We argue that the time will be right when it is widely appreciated that methodological pluralism adds value to industrial marketing research practice. The next step for our research community must be the accumulation of a body of empirical evidence to demonstrate that this added value does or does not exist.


Midgley, G., Nicholson, J., & Brennan, R. (2017). Dealing with challenges to methodological pluralism: the paradigm problem, psychological resistance and cultural barriers. Industrial marketing management, 62, 150-159.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 27, 2016
Online Publication Date Oct 14, 2016
Publication Date 2017-04
Deposit Date Sep 7, 2016
Publicly Available Date Oct 16, 2018
Journal Industrial marketing management
Print ISSN 0019-8501
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 62
Pages 150-159
Keywords Critical systems thinking; Methodological pluralism; Mixed methods; Paradigm incommensurability; Multimethodology; Industrial marketing methods
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the accepted manuscript of an article published in Industrial marketing management, 2017. The version of record is available at the DOI link in this record.


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