The Association for Qualitative Research
The Hub of Qualitative Thinking

William "Bill" Schlackman (1930-2019)

Bill Schlackman sadly passed away on Friday May 31, 2019 at the age of 88.

Bill was born in the Bronx, New York, on December 24, 1930. He graduated in Psychology from Brooklyn College, and then received his Master’s in Psychology from City College, New York. Bill first practised clinical psychology at the Marlboro State Hospital, New Jersey, gaining experience in psychoanalysis — skills that he later used and adapted in his market research career.

In 1956, after completing his military service, Bill joined Ernest Dichter’s Institute for Motivational Research in Croton-on-Hudson, New York. Two years later he was sent by Dichter to London to support David Collins’ Motivational Research Centre. The following year Dichter sent him back to London again to set up and run Ernest Dichter Associates. This time the move was permanent, and he and his wife Jone stayed in England for the duration of his market research career.

In 1961 Schlackman set up William Schlackman Ltd. ‘Schlackman’s’ became known to many as ‘the academy’ and gave rise to many successful qualitative researchers in the UK. He was was an active supporter in the founding of the AQR, speaking at its first one day conference in 1980. He also give papers at many MRS conferences.

People who worked with Bill at Schlackman’s, and who later influenced the development of qualitative research over the subsequent three decades, include Peter Cooper (who founded CRAM), Wendy Gordon, Pat Cockett, Colleen Ryan, Roddy Glen, Lawrence Bailey, Susie Fisher, Freda Bear, Peter Lovett, Prosper Riley-Smith and more.

Bill played a major role in the development of qualitative research in the UK. His experience in psychotherapy, clinical psychology and motivational research, as well as his relationship with Ernest Dichter, helped form what we know as qualitative research today. He ran various workshops on the use of projective techniques, for which he is widely remembered, as well as presenting a number of papers at MRS Conferences between 1961 and 1986.

Schlackman’s passion and enthusiasm for experimental research design, and the use of projective and motivational techniques in market research, helped propel qualitative research to achieve a deeper understanding of consumer motivations.

His most celebrated work on Sensitivity Panels was presented at the MRS Conference in 1984, and later featured in IJMR in 1997.

Schlackman retired in the mid 1980’s and returned to the US where he enjoyed a comfortable retirement alternating between New York and Fort Myers.

He was the subject of an Oral History interview and short film in 2013, and an IJMR paper on his influence on qualitative research in 2015. He received an Honorary Fellowship of the MRS in 2016 in recognition of his contribution to the UK Market Research industry.

 


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