Mad Men don't innovate

December 15, 2011

The i-Map study ("i-Map finds too many weeds in the portfolio garden", 8 December) found an order of waste in UK universities' new course development, but subjecting new course ideas to conventional market research would merely dampen down innovation and intensify the damaging homogeneity in the sector.

Serious innovation - from Henry Ford's Model T to Akio Morita's Sony Walkman and Steve Jobs' iPhone - depends on cultural leadership, not market research. Universities are nothing if not content creators in a cultural industry, and creative content has little to do with what the market thinks it wants. Academics, not consumers or marketing departments, must continue to be the source of content innovation in this sector.

Chris Hackley, Professor of marketing, Royal Holloway, University of London

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