Author(s): Levitt T
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Abstract For all the talk about management as a science, experienced executives know that strategic decisions and tactics depend heavily on context. No one understood this better than Theodore Levitt (1925-2006). A Harvard Business School professor renowned as a founder of modern marketing, he sought above all to use his knowledge to serve the needs of businesspeople. In a series of powerfully insightful--and delightfully written--essays in Harvard Business Review, he provoked readers to reexamine their settled thinking about vital issues so that they could better meet the needs of customers. Levitt had the gifts of provocation and generalization, offering ideas that startled readers but compelled them to think creatively and intelligently about their companies. Writing in a period when business was held in far less esteem than it is today, he rejected the easy contempt that many intellectuals had for managers and consumers. Levitt carried that practical approach to his tenure at Harvard Business Review from 1985 to 1989. As one of HBR's most intellectual and most populist chief editors, he understood that the magazine's main purpose was to serve as a kind of sophisticated translation, clarifying authors' raw-and sometimes rough-ideas for impatient, time-pressed readers. This tribute, a look into one of business's great minds, offers excerpts from six of Levitt's most influential HBR articles: "Marketing Myopia" (July-August 1960) "After the Sale Is Over..."(SeptemberOctober1983) "Marketing Success Through Differentiation-of Anything" (January-February 1980) "Production-Line Approach to Service" (September-October 1972) "The Globalization of Markets" (May-June 1983) "Creativity Is Not Enough" (May-June 1963).
This article was published in Harv Bus Rev
and referenced in Industrial Engineering & Management