Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 161–168 | Cite as

Focus group research dynamics and reporting: An examination of research objectives and moderator influences

  • William J. McDonald
Research Notes


While focus groups enjoy wide popularity in marketing practice, the methodological complexities of this form of qualitative research are largely ignored. One such issue concerns how different moderators interact with alternative approaches to focus group research to affect group processes and reporting. This study applies a philosophy of science perspective to understanding the theoretical and practical importance of interactions between moderator research philosophies and qualitative information-gathering objectives. The findings from an analysis of 66 moderators show that the conceptual framework used here describes important aspects of focus group work. However, they also show that the distinctions in the framework are not being practiced by marketing researchers.


Focus Group Group Session Moderator Type Group Approach Scientific Moderator 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Boice, Robert. 1983. “Observational Skills.”Psychological Bulletin 93 (January): 3–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Calder, Bobby J. 1977. “Focus Groups and the Nature of Qualitative Marketing Research.”Journal of Marketing Research 14 (August): 353–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Carmines, Edward G. and Richard A. Zeller. 1979.Reliability and Validity Assessment. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  4. Fern, Edward F. 1982. “The Use of Focus Groups for Idea Generation: The Effects of Group Size, Acquaintanceship, and Moderator on Response Quantity and Quality.”Journal of Marketing Research 19 (February): 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Fowler, J. Floyd and Thomas M. Mangione. 1990.Standardized Survey Interviewing: Minimizing Interviewer-Related Error. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  6. Goldman, Alfred E. 1962. “The Group Depth Interview.”Journal of Marketing 26 (July): 61–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Goldman, Alfred E. and Susan S. McDonald. 1987.The Group Depth Interview: Principles and Practice. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  8. Gordon, Wendy and Robert T. Langmaid. 1988.Qualitative Marketing Research: A Practitioner’s and Buyer’s Guide. Aldershot, England: Gower Publishing.Google Scholar
  9. Greenbaum, Thomas. 1988.The Practical Handbook and Guide to Focus Group Research. Boston: D. C. Health and Company.Google Scholar
  10. Krueger, Richard A. 1991.Focus Groups: A Practical Guide for Applied Research. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  11. McDaniel, Carl. 1979. “Focus Groups—Their Role in the Marketing Research Process.”Akron Business and Economic Review 10 (June): 14–19.Google Scholar
  12. McDonald, William J. 1980. ‘Group Research: Applications and Philosophies.” Unpublished working paper. University of Illinois at Chicago Circle.Google Scholar
  13. Morgan, David L. 1991.Focus Groups as Qualitative Research. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  14. Stewart, David W. and Prem N. Shamdasani. 1991.Focus Groups: Theory and Practice. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  15. Templeton, Jane. 1988.Focus Groups: A Guide for Marketing and Advertising Professionals. Chicago: Probus.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Academy of Marketing Science 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • William J. McDonald
    • 1
  1. 1.Hofstra UniversityUSA

Personalised recommendations