Foundations of Marketing Thought: The Influence of the German Historical School, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Foundations of Marketing Thought

The Influence of the German Historical School, 1st Edition

By D.G. Brian Jones, Mark Tadajewski


214 pages

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The study and teaching of marketing as a university subject is generally understood to have originated in America during the early 20th century emerging as an applied branch of economics. This book tells a different story describing the influence of the German Historical School on institutional economists and economic historians who pioneered the study of marketing in America and Britain during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Drawing from archival materials at the University of Wisconsin, Harvard Business School, and the University of Birmingham, this book documents the early intellectual genealogy of marketing science and traces the ideas that early American and British economists borrowed from German scholars to study and teach marketing. Early marketing scholars both in America and Britain openly credited the German School, and its ideology based on social welfare and distributive justice was a strong motivation for many institutional economists who studied marketing in America, predating the modern macro-marketing school by many decades.

Challenging many traditional beliefs, this book provides an authoritative new narrative of the origins of marketing thought. It will be of great interest to educators, scholars and advanced students with an interest in marketing theory and history, and in the history of economic thought.


The Foundations of Marketing Thought: The Influence of the German Historical School provides a fitting prequel and welcome addition to Bartels’ renowned History of Marketing Thought. Foundations significantly extends Bartels’ intellectual genesis of marketing in the academy to the teachers who influenced the earliest pioneers of marketing thought in the United States as well as the United Kingdom. The authorsalso offer extensive new details into the lives and careers of the marketing pioneers themselves. The book delivers a superbly illuminating origin story of academic marketing. As such, this work belongs on every marketing historian’s bookshelf.

Erik Shaw, Professor of Marketing, College of Business, Florida Atlantic University, USA.

Which intellectual traditions influenced significantly the approaches of the founders of the marketing discipline in the early 1900s? In Foundations of Marketing Thought, D. G. Brian Jones and Mark Tadajewski present detailed, well-sourced, and careful arguments that show that the German Historical School was much more influential than has hitherto been documented, or even acknowledged. No serious student of marketing’s intellectual history can—or should—ignore Foundations’ arguments.

Shelby D. Hunt, The Jerry S. Rawls and P.W. Horn Professor of Marketing, Rawls College of Business Administration, Texas Tech University, USA.

This path breaking monograph will almost certainly have a revolutionary impact on our understanding of the early history of marketing thought. Drawing upon their painstaking archival research, Tadajewski and Jones reveal areas where Bartels, previously the unquestioned authority in this area, was incomplete in his coverage and, as regards the importance of the German Historical School, just plain wrong. The myriad of linkages that existed between that School of Thought and American marketing's earliest scholars are both made clear by these authors and presented within a social and economic context that adds very significant additional value in its own right.

Stanley J. Shapiro, Professor Emeritus, Simon Fraser University, USA

The thought-provoking book makes us rethink the history of marketing. Beautifully crafted in an engaging and accessible style, the authors meticulously document the influence of the German Historical School of Economics on early marketing thought. Using extensive archival research, they track the genealogy of various marketing practices that existed long before they were formally institutionalised. The book is a must-read not only for marketing historians, but also for all scholars interested in the origins of marketplace phenomena.

Pauline Maclaran, Professor of Marketing & Consumer Research in the School of Management at Royal Holloway, UK.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables



Chapter One: Introduction

Historical Research in Marketing

Collegiate Education for Business – and Marketing

The Emerging Marketing Discipline

Origins in Economic Thought

Method and Overview


Chapter Two: The German Historical School of Economics


The Migration of American Students to Germany

Science in the Service of Industry

The German Historical School of Economics

The Older School

The Younger School

Influence of the German Historical School of Economics


Chapter Three: Foundations of Marketing Thought at the University of Wisconsin


The Conditions of Possibility for Richard T. Ely at Wisconsin

Ely Arrives at Wisconsin

Back to Classical Economics and Beyond

Ely’s Trial: Economic Heresy

Wisconsin Students of the German Historical School

Edward David Jones

Henry Charles Taylor

Economics and Commerce at Wisconsin


Chapter Four: Foundations of Marketing Thought at the University of Illinois


Simon Litman and the Foundations of Marketing Thought

University of California (1902 – 1908)

University of Illinois (1908 – 1948)


Appendix 4.1 Outline of "Mechanism & Technique of Commerce"

Chapter Five: Foundations of Marketing Thought at the University of Birmingham, UK


William James Ashley (1860 – 1927)

Business Education in Britain

Ashley – Economic Historian and Business Educator

Moving to Birmingham

Business Economics and Marketing

Teaching Commercial Policy (Marketing):

"Business Policy" and the "Commerce Seminar"


Chapter Six: Foundations of Marketing Thought at Harvard and Beyond


Cambridge, Massachusetts

Formative Influences on the Harvard Business School

Edwin Francis Gay

What to Teach?

Scientific Management and German Historicism

Arch W. Shaw on Frederick Taylor

Methodology for Teaching Marketing

Research in Marketing at Harvard – A Simple Scientific Endeavor

Arch W. Shaw - The Functions of Marketing


Chapter Seven: Conclusions


Rewriting Marketing History

The Influence of the German Historical School

Being Perceived as Unorthodox in a Time of Social Pressure


Chapter Eight: Epilogue: The Contradictions of Progressivism and Future Research


From Accusations of Socialism to Patriotism

Complexity and Marketing History: The Dark Side

Ways Forward

Marketing and Deflation of Prejudice

Discussion and Conclusion




About the Authors

D.G. Brian Jones is the founding Editor of the Journal of Historical Research in Marketing and co-editor of the Routledge Studies in the History of Marketing. His research focuses on the history of marketing thought and has been published widely.

Mark Tadajewski is the Editor of the Journal of Marketing Management, an Associate Editor of the Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, the co-editor of the Routledge Studies in Critical Marketing and the Routledge Studies in the History of Marketing series.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in the History of Marketing

It is increasingly acknowledged that an awareness of marketing history and the history of marketing thought is relevant for all levels of marketing teaching and scholarship. Marketing history includes, but is not limited to, the histories of advertising, retailing, channels of distribution, product design and branding, pricing strategies, and consumption behaviour – all studied from the perspective of companies, industries, or even whole economies. The history of marketing thought examines marketing ideas, concepts, theories, and schools of marketing thought including the lives and times of marketing thinkers.

This series aims to be the central location for the publication of historical studies of marketing theory, thought and practice, and welcomes contributions from scholars from all disciplines that seek to explore some facet of marketing and consumer practice in a rigorous and scholarly fashion. It will also consider historical contributions that are conceptually and theoretically well-conceived, that engage with marketing theory and practice, in any time period, in any country.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economic History
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Marketing / General
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Marketing / Research
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Corporate & Business History