Jon, I think it's a generational problem. Even in marketing, they talk about this. I'm sure that we could find an internet forum with marketers around our age complaining about their management not listening to their qualitative market research. We'll just have to wait for these people to retire and then we'll get to force our "old" ideas onto the next generation.
I see the change all over the place now. I see this struggle as part of a larger social change. I think 20 years ago, people generally thought that everything could be reduced down to an easy spreadsheet. Absolute predictions could be made for everything. I think September 11 (and the varied crisis since then) cracked that open. Academics are shifting to studying things that can be roughly predicted, but never absolutely. This kind of mind set is dripping over into popular media and it will seed the next generation of management.
Sadly, I can not give you an absolute date when one of those managers more open to qualitative user or marketing research will call you.
"Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end, an end which it was already but too easy to arrive at...." Thoreau