Marketing Science Institute

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Founded in 1961, the Marketing Science Institute (MSI) is a corporate-membership-based organization dedicated to bridging the gap between marketing theory and business practice. MSI is unique as the only research-based organization with an expansive network of marketing academics from the best business schools all over the world as well as marketing executives from 60+ leading companies.

As a nonprofit institution, MSI financially supports academic research for the development—and practical translation—of marketing knowledge on topics of importance to business performance. Every two years, MSI asks the Board of Trustees to provide input to help set priorities for the research that will guide activities for the next few years. These priorities enable MSI to engage in its most critical mission: moving the needle on important marketing problems. MSI supports studies by academics on these issues and disseminates the results through conferences, workshops, webinars, publications, and online content.

In the past 10 years, MSI has sponsored 70+ conferences and workshops. MSI's Working Paper Series includes more than one thousand working papers, many of which have garnered the marketing field’s most prestigious awards. The "Relevant Knowledge" book series includes over a dozen monographs on topics including marketing ROI, consumer insights, innovation, and branding.

MSI headquarters are located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The primary governing body of MSI is the Board of Trustees, which is made up of representatives of each of MSI’s member companies. MSI's staff of 11 employees are responsible for membership and research programs, conferences, publications, and all other operations.


In 1961, Scott Paper Company President Thomas B. McCabe founded the “Institute for Science in Marketing” with input from leading thinkers John Howard, Albert Wesley Frey, and Wroe Alderson. Twenty-nine companies responded to his membership appeal, establishing MSI as a nonprofit organization that would “contribute to the emergence of a definitive science of marketing” and “stimulate increased application of scientific techniques to the understanding and solving of current marketing problems.” Offices were established in Philadelphia near the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, and Wendell Smith became its first president.[1]

MSI's founding coincided with a period of booming growth in the U.S. marketing systems, fueled by pent-up demand from war-years restrictions on production of consumer goods, and an explosion in population growth. Key marketing concepts, such as the “4 Ps” (product, price, place, promotion) of marketing were introduced. Management science theory, methods, and tools were infused into marketing, and consumer behavior emerged as an area of study within marketing.[2]

In its first decade, MSI supported the development of new tools for marketers, such as multidimensional scaling, stochastic modeling, causal modeling, and decision calculus marketing. It also provided the foundation for advances in new product development.[3][4] In 1968, MSI moved to Cambridge and began a 15-year association with the Harvard Business School.

In the early 1970s, MSI launched and managed the Profit Impact of Marketing Strategy project which, in conjunction with General Electric, created and analyzed a cross-sectional database that described marketing strategies and profitability across hundreds of business units. The results, widely reported, demonstrated the value of a scientific approach to marketing.[5]

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, MSI assembled teams to shape policy at the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. MSI also played an important role in introducing qualitative consumer research methods, including the Consumer Behavior Odyssey, a summer-long road trip in 1986 that laid the foundation for the field of consumer ethnography.[6]

By the 1980s, MSI research on services marketing reflected a growing awareness that consumer service businesses required a reappraisal of marketing approaches originally developed in the packaged goods context. In 1986, a consortium of MSI member companies contributed funding and data to support a stream of research that culminated in SERVQUAL, a scale for measuring customer perceptions of service quality that has been widely adopted by service businesses. During this time, the role of marketing in strategic planning received increased attention. MSI research introduced key concepts such as market orientation and marketing capabilities.[7]

The conceptualization and measurement of brand equity originated in MSI-sponsored research in the early 1990s. The impact of marketing activities on firm performance and shareholder value (termed marketing ROI, marketing accountability, and return on marketing investment) has been an area of sustained MSI research interest. Through the 1990s and early 2000s, MSI's research agenda also included product and service innovation, as well as innovation in business models and processes.

Current Research[edit]

Beginning in the 2000s, new technologies, analytic capabilities, and social media platforms have dramatically altered the marketing landscape. Current research priorities include: quantitative models to understand causality; integrated, real-time customer experiences; changing decision processes (B2C and B2B); new data and analytic approaches; and innovation, design, and strategy in an age of disruption.[8]


The Marketing Science Institute sponsors three major marketing awards annually.

The Alden G. Clayton Dissertation Proposal Competition recognizes the best doctoral dissertation proposals on important marketing subjects. Each year, MSI grants up to five awards of $5,000 each for the best proposals.

The MSI H. Paul Root Award is given by members of the Journal of Marketing editorial review board to a paper that has made a significant contribution to the advancement of the practice of marketing. It is cosponsored by the American Marketing Association.

The Robert D. Buzzell MSI Best Paper Award honors the authors of the MSI working papers that have made the most significant contribution to marketing practice and thought. The award serves to signal the kind of writing and research that is of lasting value to corporate marketing executives. Each year it is given for the best MSI paper issued during the calendar year two years previous.

In addition, the biennial Young Scholars Program brings together top young marketing academics in a four-day forum to discuss their research, to encourage future collaboration, and to foster their interest in solving real-world marketing problems.


Marni Zea Clippinger, 2016-present
Office of the President: Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Operating Officer, and Executive Director, 2002-2016
William H. Moult, 2000-2002
William A. Ghormley, 1998-2000
H. Paul Root, 1990-1998
F. Kent Mitchel, 1987-1990
Alden G. Clayton, 1977-1986
Thomas B. McCabe, Jr., 1972-1977
Edwin L. Morris, 1969-1972
Wendell R. Smith, 1962-1969

Executive Directors[edit]

Katherine N. Lemon, Boston College, 2015-present
Kevin Lane Keller, Dartmouth College, 2013-2015
John A. Deighton, Harvard Business School, 2011-2013
Ruth N. Bolton, Marketing Science Institute, 2009-2011
Russell S. Winer, New York University, 2007-2009
Dominique Hanssens, UCLA, 2005-2007
Leigh McAlister, University of Texas at Austin, 2003-2005
Donald R. Lehmann, Columbia University, 1993–95, 2001-2003
David J. Reibstein, University of Pennsylvania, 1999-2001
Rohit Deshpandé, Harvard Business School, 1997-1999
David B. Montgomery, Stanford University, 1995-1997
Richard Staelin, Duke University, 1991-1993
George S. Day, University of Pennsylvania, 1989-1991
Frederick E. Webster, Jr., Dartmouth College, 1987-1989
John U. Farley, Dartmouth College, 1985-1987
Louis W. Stern, Northwestern University, 1983-1985
E. Raymond Corey, Harvard Business School, 1981-1983
Stephen A. Greyser, Harvard Business School, 1972-1980
Robert D. Buzzell, Harvard Business School, 1968-1972

Executive Committee (2017)[edit]

Sean Bruich, Nike, Inc.
Edwin J. Buckley, Jr., UPS
Marni Zea Clippinger, Marketing Science Institute
John A. Deighton, Harvard Business School
Pamela Forbus, PepsiCo
Kevin Lane Keller, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College
Katherine N. Lemon, Marketing Science Institute and Boston College
Conor McGovern, Accenture
Pam Moy, Allstate Insurance Company
David F. Poltrack, CBS Corporation and CBS Vision
Daniel Slotwiner, Facebook, Inc.
Helen Lang Suskin, Pfizer, Inc.
Earl L. Taylor, Marketing Science Institute
Linda Vytlacil, Walmart

Academic Trustees (2017)[edit]

Kusum Ailadwadi, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College
David Bell, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
Alex Chernev, Kellogg School of Northwestern University
Peter Fader, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
Gavan Fitzsimons, Fuqua School of Duke University
Jacob Goldenberg, The Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) at Herzliya
Robert Kozinets, Marshall School of University of Southern California
Peter Golder, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College
Carl Mela, Fuqua School of Duke University
Wendy Moe, Smith School of University of Maryland
Michael Norton, Harvard Business School
Sharon Shavitt, University of Illinois - UC
Peter Verhoef, University of Groningen


  1. ^ Bloom, Paul (1987). Knowledge Development in Marketing: The MSI Experience. D.C. Heath and Company. ISBN 0-669-12581-4. 
  2. ^ Wilkie, William L.; Elizabeth S. Moore (Fall 2003). ""Scholarly Research in Marketing: Exploring the "4 Eras" of Thought Development". Journal of Public Policy & Marketing. 22 (2): 116–146. doi:10.1509/jppm. 
  3. ^ Bloom, Paul (1987). Knowledge Development in Marketing: The MSI Experience. D.C. Heath and Company. ISBN 0-669-12581-4. 
  4. ^ Bolton, Ruth (Summer 2011). "MSI 50: Years Ahead". Marketing Management: 44–47. 
  5. ^ Bolton, Ruth (Summer 2011). "MSI 50: Years Ahead". Marketing Management: 44–47. 
  6. ^ Bloom, Paul (1987). Knowledge Development in Marketing: The MSI Experience. D.C. Heath and Company. ISBN 0-669-12581-4. 
  7. ^ Bloom, Paul (1987). Knowledge Development in Marketing: The MSI Experience. D.C. Heath and Company. ISBN 0-669-12581-4. 
  8. ^ Marketing Science Institute (2016). 2016-18 Research Priorities. Cambridge, Mass.: Marketing Science Institute. 

External links[edit]