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Anderson Honored for Research Proving Marketers Matter in Study with Ugandan Entrepreneurs

Assistant Professor of Marketing Stephen J. Anderson, winner of the 2021 AMA/MSI Paul Root Award for research with Ugandan entrepreneurs.

For work that isolates a marketer’s significance in helping entrepreneurs, Stephen J. Anderson, assistant professor of marketing at Texas at McCombs, received the 2021 Paul Root Award.

This award is cosponsored by the American Marketing Association and the Marketing Science Institute and conferred yearly to a paper that has made a significant contribution to the advancement of the practice of marketing.

The winning article, Do Marketers Matter for Entrepreneurs? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Uganda,” presented the results of a randomized control trial of nearly 1,000 Ugandan entrepreneurs, comparing those offered virtual business coaching with those who received no coaching. Beyond that, the authors randomized for the kinds of business professionals providing the coaching — whether marketers, consultants, or mentors from other fields of business.

Those entrepreneurs with access to marketers saw on average 32.5% growth, as measured in monthly sales and profits, total assets, and paid employees. It was the marketers’ advice on product differentiation that had the greatest impact, allowing the small business owners to charge a premium price for their goods and services.

“By coding for the coaches’ business backgrounds, we were able to design a study within a study, which allowed us to isolate a marketer’s effect on a firm’s performance. That’s never been done before.” — Stephen J. Anderson

In congratulating Anderson, Andrew Gershoff, professor and chair of marketing, said, “These findings have enormous implications for theory of how marketing influences firm growth, and also highly practical implications for bringing growth to those in developing economies.”

The award’s selection committee said the research “ticks all the boxes”: “It addresses a fundamental marketing question in an entrepreneurial context that matters for millions of people living in poverty. We admired the powerful causal evidence of entrepreneurship as a tool to fight poverty in Uganda, and for bringing marketing to the table.”

As a result of this work, organizations charged with fighting poverty through business interventions have adjusted their view, said Leonardo Iacovone, a lead economist at the World Bank.

“In the past, organizations such as mine did not give marketing and marketers much thought. [This] article has significantly changed our thinking regarding the importance of the marketing function in driving firm growth and, in turn, the role that marketers can play in helping emerging market entrepreneurs to succeed.” — Leonardo Iacovone

Anderson and his coauthors, Pradeep Chintagunta of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Frank Germann of the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, and Naufel Vilcassim of the London School of Economics and Political Science, will accept this prestigious award at the Summer AMA Academic Conference.

Story by Judie Kinonen

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News from the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin

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Texas McCombs

Texas McCombs

News, business research, and ideas from the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin. Learn more at www.mccombs.utexas.edu

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