Imagination is essential to marketing scholarship and practice. However, it is neither well understood nor sufficiently used. This paper encourages giving more attention to imagination by highlighting issues meriting further understanding. Readers are encouraged to ask questions such as: Why is imagination important? What job does it perform? Are people inherently imaginative? What forces enhance and dampen imagination? What do you have when you have an imaginative thought? Some initial observations regarding these and related issues are provided to stimulate the reader’s thinking.
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Many organizations have facilitated the arrangement of these interviews. Participants include both academics and practicing executives many of whom were engaged in executive education programs at HBS. Several clients of the research firm Olson Zaltman Associates have provided interviewees. Other firms have independently provided access to managers at different organizational levels and from different functions. Executives from a wide range of industries and global locations continue to participate.
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First, I would like to thank the four people whose thoughtful commentaries follow this paper. They are Robin Coulter (University of Connecticut), Alice Tybout and Bobby Calder (Northwestern University), and William Wilkie (Notre Dame University). Other people provided helpful critique at various stages in the development of the paper. They include Vincent Barabba (General Motors), Michael Beer (Harvard Business School), Nancy Cox (Hallmark), Ian Mitroff (UC Berkeley), Jerry Olson (Olson Zaltman Associates), Joseph Plummer (Columbia University and Olson Zaltman Associates), Malcom Salter (Harvard Business School), and Robert Spitzer.
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Zaltman, G. Marketing’s forthcoming Age of imagination. AMS Rev 6, 99–115 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13162-016-0082-3
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