Ruth N. Bolton: Autobiographical reflections

Ruth Bolton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: My goal is to describe my life in marketing over more than 36 years and to help readers better understand (from my personal perspective) the history of marketing. I also aim to lift the curtain on some aspects of service within the marketing community. Design/methodology/approach: This paper is an autobiographical sketch. It describes some key moments in my career, as well as describing how my most cited articles came to be written. It emphasizes the contextual factors at work in different periods, so readers can better understand how and why my research evolved in certain ways. I aim to convey the nature and variety of career experiences that were (and are) open to marketing academics. I discuss my experiences at the Journal of Marketing and the Marketing Science Institute. Findings: Marketing changed rapidly between 1974 and 2017. Although change can be uncomfortable, I urge marketers to seek exposure to new ideas and practices; they are essential to learning and growth. Unexpected opportunities will come along and an alert individual can learn much from them. My time in industry was a learning experience for me. There are many kinds of interesting and successful careers. Practical implications: The marketing field advances, not by the work of a single individual, but from the accumulated work of the entire marketing community. Everyone has a role to play. I encourage each individual to look for ways to contribute. I offer thoughts on how to build a research career based on my own experience. Social implications: My thoughts may shed some light on the experiences of a woman academic and the globalization of marketing academia between 1974 and 2017. Originality/value: My hope is that this paper contributes to a better understanding of the history of marketing, when it is considered together with other articles on this topic. It may also be useful to people who are embarking upon a career, as well as those seeking to understand the work of earlier marketing scholars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)244-263
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Historical Research in Marketing
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2017


  • Autobiography
  • History of marketing ideas
  • Journal of Marketing
  • Marketing
  • Marketing Science Institute
  • Marketing history

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing


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