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Marketing Doctrine: A Principles-Based Approach to Guiding Marketing Decision Making in Firms

Marketing Doctrine: A Principles-Based Approach to Guiding Marketing Decision Making in Firms

Goutam Challagalla, Brian Murtha and Bernard Jaworski

JM Insights in the Classroom

Teaching Insight:

Rather than a complicated 50 slide presentation on the firm’s marketing strategy, a simple marketing doctrine of 5-7 principles (on one slide) frequently provides sufficient guidance and “guard rails” for marketers in the field to develop their go-to-market plans.

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Related Marketing Courses: ​
Principles, Core, and Intro to Marketing Mgmt Courses; Marketing Strategy​​​​​

Full Citation: ​
Challagalla, Goutam, Brian R. Murtha, and Bernard Jaworski (2014), “Marketing Doctrine: A Principles-Based Approach to Guiding Marketing Decision Making in Firms,” Journal of Marketing, 78 (4), 4-20.

Article Abstract
The authors introduce and examine a new marketing concept that a small set of leading firms has begun to adopt: marketing doctrine. Marketing doctrine refers to a firm’s unique principles, distilled from its experiences, which provide firm-wide guidance on market-facing choices. As such, marketing doctrine provides a firm-wide common approach to decision making. Importantly, marketing doctrine helps a firm address the classic consistency–flexibility conundrum by providing high-level guidance to all decision makers in the firm (thus ensuring consistency) but not specifying execution details (thus allowing for local flexibility). Across three samples, the authors explore the concept using a discovery-oriented, theories-in-use approach with 35 executives from several industries. This article makes four contributions. First, it offers a parsimonious definition of the marketing doctrine construct and contrasts it with related constructs. Second, it offers insight into how firms can develop marketing doctrine. Third, it develops a conceptual model that identifies the antecedents and consequences of marketing doctrine use. Finally, the authors explore the moderating effects of three unpredictable environments (competitive intensity, market turbulence, and structural flux) on the marketing doctrine use–performance relationship​. 


Special thanks to Kelley Gullo, a Ph.D. candidate at Duke University, for her support in working with authors on submissions to this program. 

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Brian Murtha is Alan F. and Irene Bloomfield Professor of Marketing, University of Kentucky, USA.

Bernie Jaworski is the Peter F. Drucker Chair at the Drucker School of Management. He has published extensively in the most highly regarded marketing journals and has been ranked among the most highly cited scholars in the field of marketing. He has won all three major awards from the Journal of Marketing—the Maynard, Alpha Kappa Psi, and Jagdish Sheth Award—as well as several other awards. For 10 years he was a senior partner at Monitor Group, a global management consulting firm, where he helped lead several large-scale transformations of marketing at Fortune 500 firms.