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Are marketing management decisions shaped during one's coming of age?

Paulo Cesar Motta (PUC‐Rio, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Charles Schewe (University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts, USA)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 1 August 2008




The purpose of this paper is to show the generational cohort gap in values and consequent decision making existing between younger and older marketing managers in Brazil. The study investigates how generational research can innovate in the analysis of marketing management decisions. The truly essential questions are, first, whether cohort analysis can help explain marketing decision contexts, and second, if older cohorts find the younger cohort of managers today confrontational.


The method used in this investigation involved three phases. The first phase explored the validity of the cohorts to explain values brought into the decision context by different cohort members. The second phase asked managers to verify the values that came from phase one. The third phase advanced two questions. The first question identified the most critical value associated with new cohorts today and its implications for the organization's decision making. The second question investigated marketing issues that may develop from the values of younger cohorts coming into the organization. Managers in different cohorts at middle and upper level management were interviewed in all three phases.


The results show very different values between four investigated cohorts. These values produce different considerations among the cohorts when making marketing decisions. The greatest differences were found between the youngest and oldest cohorts. The lack of the generational understanding within a corporation, or the misapplication of this same understanding, may precipitate age divisions.

Research limitations/implications

Data were gathered from small samples and the results should be considered exploratory and not conclusive.

Practical implications

Management has shown little investigation of cohort differences and their implications for management decision making. This study suggests attention should be prompt since there appears to be a growing schism between newer members of the workforce and their older managers. Younger Brazilian cohort members embrace a strong sense of individualism that they bring to their jobs. This flies in the face of the corporate collective that companies need to survive. Finally, there remains a warning that neither management history nor company's history should be forgotten since they both bear upon marketing decision making.


This paper investigates a perspective on marketing decision making in organizations that has never been addressed in the literature. The eye‐opening findings suggest the need for addressing an issue before it becomes a problem.



Cesar Motta, P. and Schewe, C. (2008), "Are marketing management decisions shaped during one's coming of age?", Management Decision, Vol. 46 No. 7, pp. 1096-1110.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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