Book Review: The Accidental Scholar

The book offers important lessons to those trying to make a career in marketing.

The Accidental Scholar

Dr. Jagdish Sheth

Publisher: Sage India

Pages: 240; Price: Rs.695

 Jagdish Sheth is the Charles Kellstadt Professor of Marketing at the Goizueta Business School of Emory University. He is an internationally recognised business consultant and his clients include

​AT&T, Bell South, Ford, GE, Motorola, Square D, Whirlpool and Sprint​.​

He is an authority on consumer behaviour, relationship marketing, competitive strategy and geopolitical analysis. He has bagged several prestigious awards from the American Marketing Association. He has written over 40 books and published over 400 research papers on different disciplines. Sheth has been helped in the writing of this book by John Yow who is a researcher and writer.

Sheth was a prominent member of the core team during the initial years of Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, the first Indian Institute of Management​. Sheth is recipient of the P.D. Converse Award, Charles Coolidge Parlin Award and the Irwin McGraw Hill Distinguished Marketing Educator Awards by the American Marketing Association.

During the mid-1960s Sheth studied and researched at MIT Columbia and the University of Pittsburgh, where he received his PhD in 1966 from its Katz Graduate School of Business. It was during this period that he started developing his “Theory of Buyer Behavior.” This book that he co-authored with his mentor Professor John Howard provided the foundation for the future of research in the field of consumer psychology and marketing.

In addition to his academic research, research, teaching and consulting, Sheth contributes his time and financial resources to the community through various philanthropic foundations. The “Madhuri and Jagdish Sheth Foundation” focuses on building a strong community of academic marketers and developing the next generation of marketing academics. The “Sheth Family Foundation” helps the general.

Atlanta community in its various social, cultural, and religious activities, and contributions to Emory University to promote research and general understanding in the fields  of religion, culture, business, and other aspects of life in South Asia. The Sheths have established various International Awards at Emory, the University of Illinois, and the University of Pittsburgh’s University Center for International Studies.

Sheth is also a founding Chairman of the Academic Council of Mumbai Business School, a Business School located in Mumbai, India. This book is a fascinating story of a young Indian who realized his dream in America and became a recognized educator and thinker. In his “Foreword” Philip Kotley has declared, “His writings, speeches and research reveal great intellectual breadth and depth along with a great caring about others and about the state of the world.” Sheth’s travels exposed him to many of the finest minds in the world of marketing and business and helped him in formulating many of his own original ideas.

 “The Accidental Scholar” is his autobiography and delineates his role as a thought-changer and deals with his life, work and business. Sheth is a faculty builder, an academic entrepreneur who established new courses and new centres.

The book under review brims with significant ideas and experiences which would certainly help academicians and professors and companies, intending to train young students and transform them to first class professionals. Each chapter concludes with a Life Lesson that Sheth learned and together they offer a grandiose plan to aspirants to reach Olympian heights. Sheth was inspired to write his autobiography by the classic work of David Aaker, “From Fargo to the World of Brands: my biography so far”— which has become the Bible of marketing experts.

The author hails from a family making jewellery boxes in Kutch. The family moved to Madras where he was allowed to “study”. This resulted in an MBA from Pittsburgh. He went on to become an assistant to John Howard, a giant in the field of marketing and there was no looking back for Sheth. Howard invited him to help him develop his theory of “Buyer Behaviour”. Their combined efforts led to the “Howard — Sheth Theory of Buyer Behaviour”, which acquired world renown. After studies in Pittsburgh Sheth went to Columbia as a full-time research assistant.

MIT appointed him as Assistant Professor researching Consumer Behaviour”. He returned to Columbia in 1968 and moved on to Illinois. He conducted several research programs through the Institute for Advanced Technology. He brought out his first book— “Winning Back Your Market”. Each chapter in this book took a mature brand or product and explained the steps to create a new growth. The 1990s proved a highly productive period of academic excellence. His “Handbook of Relationship Marketing” has become a text-book for graduate seminars.

Sheth has provided a list of the books and articles published by him. The book offers important lessons to those trying to make a career in marketing.

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