Instructing undergraduates in marketing strategy: from hindsight to foresight
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We are very good at instructing our students with explanations of the past. Unfortunately, prior research has noted that many business postgraduates misuse theory, as they tend to apply concepts they have been taught in the past, rather than adapt and apply foresight to a particular present context. Highly controversial work published earlier exposed the misuse of the popular Boston Consulting Group (BCG) matrix. Empirical evidence revealed that the BCG matrix leads to poor strategic marketing decisions causing managers to focus upon market share rather than profitability. In this present study, the earlier work is extended, using more controls and a larger suite of experimental conditions. A series of experiments were conducted, working with a sample of 221 executives in-training and experienced practitioners, in North America and New Zealand. A threefold contribution of this work includes; first, the earlier work is confirmed using a more rigorous methodology; second, the pattern of responses come from a wider cultural and educational spectrum than before; third, and most important, incompetent decision-making can be countered by training in foresight using heuristics and sensemaking tools. Management is thereby enabled to synthesize effective marketing strategy. Completion of the study was followed by application of the findings to undergraduate classes (N=240) in Marketing Strategy. Initial anecdotal results are reported in the epilogue to this study including feedback regarding student ability to adapt heuristics to employment in a practitioner environment.