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Interfaces of Product Manager

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Interfaces of a Product Manager

Author(s): David J. Luck

Source: The Journal of Marketing, Vol. 33, No. 4, Part 1 (Oct., 1969), pp. 32-36

Published by: American Marketing Association

Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1248670 .

Accessed: 16/06/2011 11:10

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Interfaces of a Product Manager


The author provides an insightful

discussion regarding

the role of product managers

and their importance to the

organization. He indicates the

many inter and intra company

interfaces and problems

associated with the product

manager position. Recommendations

are given for improving

product management effectiveness.

Journal of Marketing, Vol. 33 (October,

1969), pp. 32-36.

HE position of product manager was established over 40 years

ago in a prominent marketing organization, that of Procter and

Gamble. Despite this long history, scholarly research and writing

have seemingly ignored the product management organization.

Literature specifically treating product management organization

is confined to perhaps three or four monographs or thin volumes

which are largely descriptive.'

Does this obscurity imply that the product manager is a rare or

unimportant functionary in modern business? Evidence points to

the contrary. This writer's experience and that of other observers

indicates that most large multiproduct companies have initiated

the product management plan of organization.

Product managers operate on a horizontal plane, in contrast to

the primarily vertical orientation of most marketing personnel.

Their specialization is cross functional with primary focus on a

specific product line or brand. They have numerous titles such as

brand manager, product planning manager, or product marketing

manager. These titles frequently denote varying emphases, but

do not alter their basic responsibilities. The position of "product

manager" is a radical departure in management that is not easily

slotted into and absorbed by the existing organization. Consequently,

it is not readily defined, staffed, and implemented.

Objectives of the Product Manager

Enthusiasts for product management have envisioned this position

to be the answer to the needs of large enterprises to create

true profit centers within the organization. This vision has proved

generally impracticable.2 Product managers are seriously hampered

by ambiguity of authority in the execution of their plans and decisions,

in addition to the problems of a new type of position asserting

its intended role. Undefined authority precludes clear-cut,

enforceable responsibility. Despite such problems, the main purposes

of product managers are seemingly being accomplished. They


1. Creation and conceptualization of strategies for improving

and marketing the assigned product line or brands.

1 The more thorough analyses of product manager's work are in:

Gordon H. Evans, The Product Manager's Job (New York: American

Management Association, 1964) and Gordon Medcalf, Marketing and

the Brand



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