The Asiatic mode of marketing

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College of Business


This article was developed especially for the inaugural issue of the new journal ʻJapan Marketing History Reviewʼ. The senior author of this article, Nikhilesh Dholakia (Nik), was invited in 1992 to teach at Chuo Daigaku – indeed, the rst foreign professor that Chuo invited to teach a course in English language. In addition to an undergraduate course, Nik also offered a postgraduate seminar. Professor Kazuo Usui (Kaz) – even though a faculty member at Saitama University with a part-time faculty af liation at Chuo University – joined Nikʼs postgraduate seminar as a participant. The rest, as they say, is history – a deep friendship between Nik and Kaz, extending to the families, has evolved; and this article is a tribute to this relationship. In this paper, the authors use the phraseology of the ʻAsiatic Modeʼ, of Karl Marx, in a playful mode to reect on the Asiatic Mode of Marketing. The article offers a very brief review of the ʻAsiatic Mode of Productionʼ ideas of Marx, including a summary of the critique of these ideas. What becomes apparent is that, with the passage of time, Marx was willing to evolve and adapt his ideas – moving from a somewhat admiring view of colonial inuence on Asian nations to a more balanced view of the predations of colonial rule. In the discipline of marketing, with some occasional exceptions, the scholars remain mired in an ʻAsiatic Modeʼ of thinking: The West is Best; and the Rest better learn from the West. Practitioners also remain in this mode, though they sometimes venture forth with oft-innovative non-western practices; and even occasionally back-inuence the marketing practices of the West. In this paper, the authors offer their views of marketing histories of the two Asian countries of origin of the authors – India and Korea. Then they turn to a general critique of the way marketing history is studied – or, in many cases, neglected – in Asian settings. A critical scholarly project for the future, the authors believe, is to break out of the ʻgauze of Othernessʼ that characterizes western and even Asian views of Asia. It is time to move to (to create) a world where the West is just a region, in the same way Asia or Africa or Latin America are regions; the West becoming co-equal to them.

Publication Title

Japan Marketing History Review