John U. Farley

JOHN U. FARLEY (1935-2018)

John Farley was a distinguished scholar and an institution builder. He was universally recognized as a “renaissance man.”  Russ Winer, William Joyce Professor of Marketing at New York University and a colleague recalls John as “one-of-a-kind.”

John earned his B.A. in Russian Civilization from Dartmouth, his M.B.A. from the Tuck School of Business, and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

John served as a professor and a scholar at Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania (Wharton), and Dartmouth College (Tuck School.) His large intellectual output included books and monographs, scholarly journal articles, commentaries, and reports. Calling John “a consummate scholar and an inspiring mentor,” Scott Neslin, Albert Wesley Frey Professor of Marketing at Dartmouth College, and a colleague has this to say about John’s contributions to scholarship: “He pioneered the application of meta-analysis in marketing, the econometric measurement of behavioral theories, and the role of organizational culture in firm performance.  John planted his feet squarely on the pedals of rigor and relevance.   He always asked, ‘what are the elasticities?’, to make sure the results were correct and meaningful.”

Echoing Scott, Sunil Gupta, Edward Carter Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, has this to say, “Along with Don Lehmann, he was the pioneer of meta-analysis in marketing. He was also one of the early scholars to leverage structural equation models (ala path analysis and LISREL) to connect behavioral and quantitative research in marketing. As a doctoral student at Columbia in the 1980s, I distinctly remember John asking almost every job candidate why they did or did not use structural equation models.”

Gurumurthy Kalyanaram (G.K.), a fellow junior academic in early 1990s, now an MIT global education counselor, and composer of this profile makes this observation. "John was a true globalist. The breath of his research output is remarkable for its boldness and insightfulness.  John explored the effect of belief in Karma in formation of consumer expectations in India (December 2008), assessed the use of marketing metrics in Vietnam (July 2008), studied the market orientation and firm performance in South Africa (June 2008), examined the evolution of Russian firms from production-orientation to market-orientation (April 2006), reported an empirical study on the state of interactive marketing in seven different countries including Brazil, China, European countries and the US (December 2005), reviewed the market orientation of firms in Hong Kong five years after transfer of power to China in 1997 (October 2004), and more. Only John could have done this. True to his global spirit, and as an exponent of meta-analysis, John (with Donald (Don) Lehmann, now George E. Warren Professor at Columbia University) argued the important role of meta-analysis in international research in marketing (February 2001).  As Frank Bass is for diffusion models, John Little for decision calculus, Paul Green for Conjoint Analysis, Glen Urban for new products market-testing models, John is for meta-anlaysis in marketing and social sciences -- a pioneer.  John and Don wrote this informative book in 1986 and introduced marketing scholars to the wonderful insights that can derived from meta-analysis: Meta-analysis in Marketing: Generalization of Response Models. Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Press, 1986."

Here is Patrick (Paddy) Barwise, Emeritus Professor, London Business School (LBS), on the research collaboration, process and outputs with John, “I’d recently done a global survey of marketing expenditure trends as a consulting project for the Paris-based marketing communications group Havas (2004.) We’d asked almost 900 CMOs in seven countries about their current and planned resource allocation across different activities, the reasons for any planned changes, their use of metrics, and some questions about market orientation and innovativeness (Marketing Expenditure Trends, Paris: Havas, December 2003.) It was completely a theoretical but the data were rich and John was interested to see if, working together, we could extract some more insights from them. We ended up writing three co-authored papers. The first reported the use of marketing metrics (“Marketing Metrics: Status of Six Metrics in Five Countries”, European Management Journal 22, 3 (June 2004), 257-262). The second compared the state of marketing (resource allocation, market orientation, etc) in the seven countries, with a particular focus on how the three European countries (Germany, France, UK) compared with the others (USA, Japan, China, Brazil) ( “How European Marketing Management Measures up to Take on the Future”, Organizational Dynamics, 34, 3 (September 2005), 273-284.)  The other paper reported the growing use of interactive marketing (IM) in all seven countries, mainly at the expense of traditional media advertising (“The State of Interactive Marketing in Seven Countries: Interactive Marketing Comes of Age”, Journal of Interactive Marketing 19, 3 (Summer 2005), 67-80.)  The between-country differences were surprisingly small and, based on the qualitative responses, we concluded that the worldwide growth in IM was likely to continue for the foreseeable future, as it certainly has. That conclusion in 2005 might now sound like a statement of the blindingly obvious, but after the 1990s internet bubble burst in early 2000, many senior marketers – despite still putting more resources into IM - thought it might be a passing fad.”

John also contributed to the world of practice through his extensive consulting, particularly through Greenwich Associates and the Management Analysis Center.

As an institution-builder, John led the Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies at Wharton School to a broader global engagement and vision. John was a globalist.  He developed an insatiable appetite for travel, which led to published research in several dozen countries on six continents during four decades.  From 1997-2002, he was the Henkel Professor of Industrial Marketing at the Chinese European International Business School in Shanghai. John also served as an executive director of the Marketing Science Institute, strengthening the purposeful industry-supported research agenda and program. 

John was an intellectual and a renaissance man.  John’s deep knowledge of Russian history and culture attracted the attention of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) which was keen on recruiting him to its ranks.  Even during his undergraduate days, John served as historian and social chairman of Gamma Delta Chi, and Vice-President of the Russian Club. John became an accomplished birder, pursuing his hobby around the world.  He played viola with elegance and precision, and was a member of the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra.

Rohit Deshpande, Sebastian Kresge Professor of Marketing at Harvard Business School, and a colleague, captures John’s broad and eclectic interests thus, “Not only his intellectual depth but his emotional breadth made for great back stories… As a Russian major from Dartmouth he was offered a position by the CIA during the height of the Cold War. His lifelong interest in classical music included playing viola with the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra. His later in life passion for birding involved traveling in a commercial trawler to the Antarctic!” Scott echoes these attributes, “He played viola, was an avid bird watcher, and spoke Russian.” Russ, of course, speaks to these wonderful attributes as Rohit and Scott have done but Russ has this to add, “He always had an interesting point of view about topics of the day as well as research.  John was probably the most interesting person in the department at the time in Columbia University.” (Russ joined the Columbia faculty in 1977.)

John was also a wonderful mentor and guide, as Praveen Kopalle, Signal Companies’ Professor at Dartmouth College and a doctoral student at Columbia University recollects in a personal testimony, “John has been an inspiration for me.  I look back upon my life’s past 30 years and as I’m writing this note in memory of John Farley, I realized how much John’s thinking has been entwined in my professional work – my joys and sorrows of acceptances and rejections, my successes and failures, that it’s impossible to imagine what my career would have been like without John as my friend, mentor, colleague,—all rolled into one.”

For John’s sustained and broad contributions to global vision and purpose, the University of Linkoping in Sweden recognized him with an honorary doctorate.  For his scholarship, the American Marketing Association recognized him with the William O’Dell Award.

G.K. Kalyanaram observes, "While globalization became an integral element of scholarship and teaching in many fields such as Economics (for instance, see Jagdish Bhagwati and Nobelist Paul Krugman work from the 1970s), it has had a more chequered history in marketing. Now it is recognized as important market dynamic.  John was a pioneer in international marketing when the field was yet cohering together."  Paddy notes the chequered history, "International Marketing was listed as a priority for Marketing Science Institute in the early 2000s and then it disappeared ("Marketing ROI Tops 2002-04 Research Agenda", MSI Review, Winter 2002-03).”

What counsel would John offer?  Ask Praveen, “John gave me three pieces of advice that I am proud to pen here: (1) You only need one job, (2) There is always a home for a paper that you write, (3) Just keep it simple.”

Like others, Sunil calls John “a true international scholar,” and recalls this, “You could never walk away from a conversation with him without learning something about the world. The same was true of his intellectual breadth and depth.  His breadth of knowledge and international perspective will always remain an inspiration for me.

John was always lively, engaging and delightful company.  Russ recollects this of their conversation and lunches, “I cherished the lunches John, Don Lehmann, and I would have at the local dive called the CDR (Campus Dining Room).  He would always get a burger and a beer.  He would always complain about journal rejections so a few of us played a practical joke on him.  We composed a letter from a journal editor "pre-rejecting" his papers, i.e., disinviting him from sending papers there.  He took it well.  After Columbia, I interacted with him frequently at MSI (Marketing Science Institute) where he participated in our monthly research meetings.”

Scott recalls John as someone who made the world a better place, “He was a path breaking contributor to our field, and a huge contributor to the well-being of those who knew him, simply by being himself.”  Paddy, “He was approachable, intellectually engaged and interested to know what I was working on.”  And Russ is poignant and personal, “I miss him to this day.”

 Gurumurthy Kalyanaram (G.K.)
Dated: August 2021