How to Avoid Exploratory Research
Studies in marketing research often start with data rather than with a theory. This exploratory or inductive approach is at odds with the more preferred scientific method where the theory precedes the data in any single research study. (See, for example, the discussion by Francis, 1957) Because exploratory research is common, however, one might argue that it is of some value. A number of researchers have claimed that the exploratory approach leads to new and useful theories. But there is also the danger that the research will produce false leads or useless theories. An attempt is made in this paper to illustrate the dangers inherent in the exploratory approach. The question of whether the potential benefits are large enough to outweigh the dangers is left to the reader.
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