Big Data Myth: Faith in Magical Power of Data in Marketing Management

Big Data Myth: Faith in Magical Power of Data in Marketing Management

Agata Mardosz-Grabowska (Jagiellonian University, Poland)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9100-9.ch010


Organizations are expected to act rationally; however, mythical thinking is often present among their members. It refers also to myths related to technology. New inventions and technologies are often mythologized in organizations. People do not understand how new technologies work and usually overestimate their possibilities. Also, myths are useful in dealing with ambivalent feelings, such as fears and hopes. The text focuses on the so-called “big data myth” and its impact on the decision-making process in modern marketing management. Mythical thinking related to big data in organizations has been observed both by scholars and practitioners. The aim of the chapter is to discuss the foundation of the myth, its components, and its impact on the decision-making process. Among others, a presence of a “big data myth” may be manifested by over-reliance on data, neglecting biases in the process of data analysis, and undermining the role of other factors, including intuition and individual experience of marketing professionals or qualitative data.
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Myths In Organizations

There are many definitions of a myth. It is hard to select and to quote one or two most popular, as the main focus and semantic scope of definition is determined by researcher’s perspective. Differences in approaches can be huge, depending on whether the definition was formulated by a sociologist, anthropologist, ethnologist, linguist, historian, psychologist or religious scholar. One of the best known is Claude Levi-Stauss structural approach, who stated, that a myth reflects the thought structures which are common to all people and which construction is based on unconscious logic (Klik, 2016, p. 77). Joseph Campbell (2004, p. 7) defines a mythological order as a system of images, that gives consciousness a sense of meaning in existence. For Ernst Cassirer (1946, cited in Kostera, 2010, p. 29), myth is a language, which enables describing human experience related to a spiritual sphere. Monika Kostera (2016, p. 156), who specializes in organizational myths, highlights that a myth does not tell about material reality but refers to consciousness and psyche.

People use myths to describe, explain or justify situations and experience. Their functions are – according to Percy D. Cohen, (1969, cited in Eriksson-Zetterquist, 2008, p. 26) – to express, explain, maintain solidarity and cohension; to legitimize actions; to communicate unconscious wishes and conflicts; to mediate contradictions; and to provide a narrative, anchoring the present to the past.

The role of myths in organizations is analogous. Organization itself can be a symbol – like Apple is a symbol of breaking the schemes or Ikea is a symbol of Sweden and Scandinavian design. Organizations might be mythologized to highlight their main idea, virtue or skill (Kostera, 2008b). The very popular form of an organizational myth is a founder myth, especially, when a founder of an organization was a visionary with strong personality – such persons were for example Steve Jobs or Walt Disney. Organizations’ members and stakeholders might use also archetypes which can be described as frames or empty spaces ready to be filled with images, figures or stories, important for culture and individual development (Kostera, 2010, p 33). Archetypes comes from the theory of Carl Gustav Jung who believed in the existence of collective unconsciousness. They are universal in time and space. Archetypes are also strongly motivating and inspiring (Kostera, Sliwa, 2012, p. 198).

In organizations, myths are used both by managers – to create the desired narration, to emphasize the uniqueness of the organization and its main values ​​and to motivate employees – and by its members or stakeholders. Organizations are social. People, who create them, need myths as an expression of something new or unknown, as an explanation of something inexplicable and as a way of communicating things, thoughts or experiences, which are hard to describe.

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