The Academy of Marketing is sad to report the passing of Professor Nigel Piercy. Professor Piercy was a long standing member of the Academy, and Chaired the 1991 MEG conference when it was hosted by Cardiff Business School.
Professor Malcolm McDonald has contributed the following.
Obituary for Professor Nigel Piercy BA MA PhD DLitt
Nigel Piercy was a great friend and professional colleague. I met him when he was teaching at Newcastle upon Tyne Polytechnic in the 1970s and I had the great good fortune to have him visit me at Cranfield School of Management to ask my advice about his academic career, something he did regularly for a number of years. Little did I know at the time that he would go on to become perhaps the UK’s greatest Professor of Marketing, with a towering influence over the development of our discipline.
To me, he was all that a world class Professor of Marketing should be, so it is impossible to do justice to such a great man in these few brief words. But I will do my best.
His scholarly publications are too numerous to enumerate, but much of his substantial output was published in leading international journals such as The Journal of Marketing, The Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, the Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management, The Journal of International Marketing, The Journal of World Business, The European Journal of Marketing, The British Journal of Management and so on.
His main achievement, however, with his scholarly output, was that he never forgot that his market was not only other scholars and the discipline he loved, but also the community of practicing marketing managers.
But there was a lot more to it than this. Nigel was not one for the vacuous language that has crept into the marketing community over the past twenty years. Not for Nigel nominalisations, forming nouns from verbs and adjectives to give gravitas to his work. He balanced impact factors with intelligibility and never considered teaching to be a tedious irrelevancy. His mastery of the English language, written and spoken, was of the highest order and this, combined with his superb intellect and scientific approach to our discipline will be sorely missed.
His other major talent was his teaching ability. He was perhaps the best example of what we refer to in our community as scholarly teaching. Secure in his in depth knowledge of his subject, he was the embodiment of what Shelby Hunt meant when he referred to marketing excellence as lying in the rich soil of management science rather than in the sloppy and abused concepts of simplistic management fads. (Hunt Shelby D . 2002. Foundations of Marketing Theory: Towards a General Theory of Marketing. M E Sharpe, New York). He was a genius at being an informed generalist, seeing the big picture and highlighting the right solution unencumbered by his specialist knowledge, which he was always able to use in the right context. Together, we did lecture tours around the world, just as Peter Doyle and I did (and I knew at the time how lucky I was to be on the same platform as these two great men) and at conferences for directors and senior managers, Nigel was always the star speaker, a master of wicked irony and standing nonsense from no one.
More than anything else, however, to me he was the perfect example of someone who really understood the following chiasmus, or antimetabole: “Not everything that can be counted counts. Not everything that counts can be counted” (often attributed to Einstein rather than to William Bruce Cameron).
Nigel was often a controversial character, but in my view he brought decency and sophisticated scholarship to the world of marketing.
To repeat myself, Nigel, you were to me all that a world class Professor of Marketing should be and although you will be sorely missed, your work and achievements will live on.
Emeritus Professor Malcolm McDonald MA(Oxon) MSc PhD Dlitt DSc