The Role of Marketing in the Corporation: A Perpetual Work in Progress
Frederick Webster Jr.
Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth
Alan J. Malter
University of Arizona - Eller College of Management
University of Arizona - Department of Marketing
April 10, 2004
Tuck School of Business Working Paper No. 2004-07
This study critically examines the widely-held view that the role of marketing in corporations is in decline. Based on interviews and discussions with top marketing executives and chief executive officers from a broad sample of leading U.S. and global corporations, we describe major changes that are occurring in the organization and management of marketing activities in large manufacturing firms and compare these findings with earlier predictions. We find that there is still a wide range of opinion about the meaning of marketing, which increases the difficulty of assessing marketing performance and justifying the support and resources for marketing activities from top managers focused on shortterm financial objectives. At the same time, marketing as a distinct function with its own bureaucratic structure has become a more dispersed set of activities and responsibilities. One result of these developments, contrary to trends that appeared to be emerging in the early 1990's, is that marketing in many firms has "lost a seat at the table" as marketing expenditures have been reduced and marketing activities decentralized. At the same time, marketing in some firms continues to play an influential role in corporate strategy, suggesting a range of possible influence of marketing in the corporation. Marketing's ambiguous position raises significant questions for the future of marketing as management practice and academic discipline.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 71
Keywords: Marketing, Marketing performance, Marketing strategy
JEL Classification: M31
Date posted: April 14, 2004