Thomas S. Robertson

Thomas S. Robertson
  • Joshua J. Harris Professor
  • Professor of Marketing
  • Academic Director, Jay H. Baker Retailing Center
  • Executive Director, Wharton INSEAD Alliance

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    769 Jon M. Huntsman Hall
    3730 Walnut Street
    University of Pennsylvania
    Philadelphia, PA 19104

Links: CV

Overview

Thomas S. Robertson is the Joshua J. Harris Professor and Professor of Marketing at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. An expert in marketing strategy and competitive behavior, his recent research has focused on ephemerality in retailing and the forecasting of retail sales. Dr. Robertson is author, co-author or editor of a dozen books and almost 100 scholarly articles and book chapters. He has won numerous awards for his scholarship and has lectured widely in North and Central America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa.

In 2014 Dr. Robertson completed a seven-year term as Dean of the Wharton School. In this role he raised substantial financial resources for the School, while championing global engagement, a strong culture of innovation, and business as a force for good. Under his leadership Wharton implemented a new MBA curriculum, a new initiative in public policy, creation of modular courses which run in ten countries, a research and teaching campus in Beijing, a commitment to lifelong learning for Wharton alumni, and the design of a portfolio of online courses reaching over two million participants worldwide.

Prior to his Wharton deanship, Dr. Robertson held posts at Emory University. He was Dean of Emory’s Goizueta Business School and is widely credited with positioning the school to compete as an international leader in business education. He also served as Chair of International Strategy, and founding Executive Faculty Director of the Institute for Developing Nations, a joint-venture research initiative with The Carter Center and President Jimmy Carter.

From 1994 to 1998, he served as Deputy Dean of the London Business School in charge of the School’s portfolio of degree and non-degree programs. In addition to his appointments at Wharton, Emory and London Business School, Dr. Robertson has held faculty positions at UCLA’s Anderson School and Harvard Business School.

Dr. Robertson is an active board member in the university and corporate domains. He serves on the Advisory Board of the Sorbonne, and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Carlyle Group. Formerly, he was a director of CRA International, a trustee of Singapore Management University, and served on the Advisory Boards of Tsinghua University, Guanghua School of Management (Peking University) and Indian School of Business.

Born in Scotland, Robertson holds an M.A. in sociology and a Ph.D. in business from Northwestern University. He is married to Diana C. Robertson, Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics at the Wharton School, who serves as Wharton’s Vice Dean for Undergraduate Education. They have three grown children.

Continue Reading

Research

  • Thomas S. Robertson (2018), Business Model Innovation: A Marketing Ecosystem View, Academy of Marketing Science Review, Volume 7 (Issue 3-4), pp. 90-100.

  • Thomas S. Robertson (2018), Pop-ups, Ephemerality, and Consumer Experience: The Centrality of Buzz (with Hubert Gatignon and Ludovica Cesareo), Journal for the Association of Consumer Research , 3 (3).

    Abstract: Pop-up stores are retail solutions that suddenly appear and then disappear—whether days, weeks, or months later. Multiple brands have created pop-ups across a range of product categories in major international markets. They are characterized by their ephemerality but also by the experience realized during the consumer’s visit to the store. Our thesis is that positive response to pop-ups depends on two major factors: (1) the benefits received by consumers who visit pop-ups and (2) the buzz that is generated, especially through social media, where consumers share their pop-up visit experiences. Although little research has investigated pop-ups, we build on the literature from different fields, especially consumer behavior, sociology, marketing, psychology, modeling of social media, and economics to develop theoretical propositions. The ephemerality of pop-ups and the emotional responses they provoke are critical explanations in our conceptualization of consumers’ response.

  • Thomas S. Robertson (2005), Winning The Take-Off Battle (with Sabine Kuester), European Business Forum.

  • Thomas S. Robertson (2002), Entry Strategy for Radical Product Innovations: A Conceptual Model and Propositional Inventory (with Elisa Mintagut and Sabine Kuester), International Journal of Research in Marketing, 19, pp. 21-42.

  • Thomas S. Robertson (2001), Defense Strategies for New Entrants (with Sabine Kuester, Christian Homburg and Heiko Schafer), Zeitschrift Fur Betriebswirtschaft, 71, pp. 1191-1215.

  • Thomas S. Robertson (1999), Retaliatory Behavior to New Product Entry (with Sabine Kuester and Christian Homburg), Journal of Marketing, 63, pp. 90-106.

  • Thomas S. Robertson (1998), Technology Development Mode: A Transaction Cost Conceptualization (with Hubert Gatignon), Strategic Management Journal, 19, pp. 515-531.

  • Thomas S. Robertson (1997), Incumbent Defense Strategies Against Innovative Entry (with Hubert Gatignon and Adam Fein), International Journal of Research in Marketing, 14, pp. 163-176.

  • Thomas S. Robertson (1996), Technology Adoption: Amplifying vs. Simplifying Innovations (with Bruce G. Hardie and William T. Ross, Jr.), Marketing Letters, 7, pp. 355-370.

  • Thomas S. Robertson (1995), New Product Announcement Signals and Incumbent Reactions (with Jehoshua Eliashberg and Talia Rymon), Journal of Marketing, 59, pp. 1-15.

    Abstract:   The authors focus on NPA signals, which they define as new product announcements in advance of market introduction. They develop a set of hypotheses regarding incumbent reactions to NPA signals and test them in a field study among managers in the United States and the United Kingdom. The authors' findings provide a characterization of the factors affecting the likelihood of competitive response to NPA signals and suggest a set of managerial implications.  

Teaching

Current Courses

  • MKTG277 - Marketing Strategy

    This course views marketing as both a general management responsibility and an orientation of an organization that helps one to create, capture and sustain customer value. The focus is on the business unit and its network of channels, customer relationships, and alliances. Specifically, the course attempts to help develop knowledge and skills in the application of advanced marketing frameworks, concepts, and methods for making strategic choices at the business level.

    MKTG277001 ( Syllabus )

  • MKTG890 - Advanced Study Project

    RETAIL ECOSYSTEM ACTION LEARNING PROJECTS: This course offers graduate students from Wharton and other Penn schools an opportunity to work on real-world projects for companies in the retail industry and in the wider retail ecosystem. It requires the exploration and analysis of actual business issues or opportunities identified by sponsoring/client companies, as well as the formulation of recommendations. It combines 1) academic principles, 2) application of prior business knowledge to the project at hand, and 3) a solutions-oriented mentality. In addition to supervised project work and regular updates to the corporate client/project sponsor, the course involves classroom meetings and discussions on topics pertaining to the projects. While this course focuses on "marketing" topics, projects might also incorporate topics from related disciplines such as operations, management of innovation & technology, data analytics, international management, design, and real estate. Indeed, the goal will be to constitute interdisciplinary teams from Wharton and other relevant Penn graduate schools. ADVANCED STUDY PROJECT (GENERAL): The principal objectives of this course are to provide opportunities for undertaking an in-depth study of a marketing problem and to develop the students' skills in evaluating research and designing marketing strategies for a variety of management situations. Selected projects can touch on any aspect of marketing as long as this entails the elements of problem structuring, data collection, data analysis, and report preparation. The course entails a considerable amount of independent work. (Strict library-type research is not appropriate) Class sessions are used to monitor progress on the project and provide suggestions for the research design and data analysis. The last portion of the course often includes an oral presentation by each group to the rest of the class and project sponsors. Along with marketing, the projects integrate other elements of management such as finance, production, research and development, and human resources.

    MKTG890001 ( Syllabus )

Past Courses

  • MKTG101 - INTRO TO MARKETING

    The objective of this course is to introduce students to the concepts, analyses, and activities that comprise marketing management, and to provide practice in assessing and solving marketing problems. The course is also a foundation for advanced electives in Marketing as well as other business/social disciplines. Topics include marketing strategy, customer behavior, segmentation, market research, product management, pricing, promotion, sales force management and competitive analysis.

  • MKTG277 - MARKETING STRATEGY

    This course views marketing as both a general management responsibility and an orientation of an organization that helps one to create, capture and sustain customer value. The focus is on the business unit and its network of channels, customer relationships, and alliances. Specifically, the course attempts to help develop knowledge and skills in the application of advanced marketing frameworks, concepts, and methods for making strategic choices at the business level.

  • MKTG777 - MARKETING STRATEGY

    This course views marketing as both a general management responsibility and an orientation of an organization that helps one to create, capture and sustain customer value. The focus is on the business unit and its network of channels, customer relationships, and alliances. Specifically, the course attempts to help develop knowledge and skills in the application of advanced marketing frameworks, concepts, and methods for making strategic choices at the business level.

  • MKTG890 - ADVANCED STUDY PROJECT

    RETAIL ECOSYSTEM ACTION LEARNING PROJECTS: This course offers graduate students from Wharton and other Penn schools an opportunity to work on real-world projects for companies in the retail industry and in the wider retail ecosystem. It requires the exploration and analysis of actual business issues or opportunities identified by sponsoring/client companies, as well as the formulation of recommendations. It combines 1) academic principles, 2) application of prior business knowledge to the project at hand, and 3) a solutions-oriented mentality. In addition to supervised project work and regular updates to the corporate client/project sponsor, the course involves classroom meetings and discussions on topics pertaining to the projects. While this course focuses on "marketing" topics, projects might also incorporate topics from related disciplines such as operations, management of innovation & technology, data analytics, international management, design, and real estate. Indeed, the goal will be to constitute interdisciplinary teams from Wharton and other relevant Penn graduate schools. ADVANCED STUDY PROJECT (GENERAL): The principal objectives of this course are to provide opportunities for undertaking an in-depth study of a marketing problem and to develop the students' skills in evaluating research and designing marketing strategies for a variety of management situations. Selected projects can touch on any aspect of marketing as long as this entails the elements of problem structuring, data collection, data analysis, and report preparation. The course entails a considerable amount of independent work. (Strict library-type research is not appropriate) Class sessions are used to monitor progress on the project and provide suggestions for the research design and data analysis. The last portion of the course often includes an oral presentation by each group to the rest of the class and project sponsors. Along with marketing, the projects integrate other elements of management such as finance, production, research and development, and human resources.

In the News

Knowledge @ Wharton

Activity

Latest Research

Thomas S. Robertson (2018), Business Model Innovation: A Marketing Ecosystem View, Academy of Marketing Science Review, Volume 7 (Issue 3-4), pp. 90-100.
All Research

In the News

Can Barnes & Noble Survive?

Customer disconnects and failed strategies have turned Barnes & Noble from a retail disruptor into a dinosaur, experts say.

Knowledge @ Wharton - 2018/06/7
All News