Publications

Jonathan Knowles is the coauthor of five articles in the Harvard Business Review and twelve in the MIT Sloan Management Review (six of which form “The Strategy of Change” series). His articles have also appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Professional Investor, Intellectual Asset Management, the Review of Marketing Research, the Journal of Interactive Marketing, The Marketing Journal and the AMA’s Marketing Management.

He has coauthored chapters on “The Marketing Implications of Financial Accounting” (2021) and “Orientation and Marketing Metrics” (2009), as well as a Marketing Science Institute working paper on “The Value Implications of Corporate Branding in Mergers” (2011).

He is coauthor of the book “Vulcans, Earthlings & Marketing ROI” (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2008).

His writing focuses on three main topics – business strategy (especially the role of purpose, reputation, and brand in value creation); mergers (intangible assets, post merger integration, brand architecture); and measurement (economics vs accounting, performance metrics, valuation).

Article Strategy

HBR - March 2022: What is the Purpose of Your Purpose?

In this feature article from the March/April 2022 issue of Harvard Business Review, we unpack the different meanings of “purpose” and identify the four business agendas that are impacted by it. We lay out a five step process for ensuring that your corporate purpose is defined in a way that is authentic and actionable.

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Article Strategy

MIT SMR - March 2022: Leading Change Means Changing How You Lead

In the sixth article of “The Strategy of Change” series in the MIT Sloan Management Review, we explore how the focus of the three key tasks of leadership vary according to the type of change you are trying to achieve.

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Article Strategy

MIT SMR - Oct 2021: Effective Innovation Begins with Strategic Direction

In the fifth article of “The Strategy of Change” series in the MIT Sloan Management Review, we explore how your innovation efforts need to be informed by the type of change you are trying to achieve.

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Article Strategy

MIT SMR - Aug 2021: Great Strategy Considers More Than Customers and Investors

In the fourth article of “The Strategy of Change” series in MIT Sloan Management Review, we explore how a focus on creating value for a broader range of stakeholders can result in much better strategy.

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Article Strategy

MIT SMR - May 2021: Most Businesses Should Neither “Pivot” Nor “Double Down”

In this third article in our MIT Sloan Management Review series, we share three key insights emerging from the MADStrat research – the proportion of companies for which change in magnitude vs. activity vs. direction are appropriate; the need to be both relevant and distinctive; and the requirement to consider the interests of multiple stakeholders in order to develop truly sustainable strategies.

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Article Strategy

MIT SMR - Dec 2020: The Essence of Strategy is Now How To Change

In our second article in the “strategic management of change” series in the MIT Sloan Management Review, we identify how traditional approaches to strategy development embody two assumptions (industry stability; and shareholder primacy) that limit their usefulness now that a dynamic, multi-stakeholder approach is required. We describe how a focus on fit to purpose and relative advantage provides the key to identifying what form of change is appropriate to the specific context of a business.

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Article Strategy

MIT SMR - Aug 2020: Changing How We Think About Change

The word “change” covers a broad spectrum of possibilities – in the first article of “The Strategy of Change” series in the MIT Sloan Management Review, we identify the three major forms that change can take: magnitude, activity or direction.

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Article Measurement

Review of Marketing Research - Sept 2021: The Marketing Implications of Financial Accounting

We argue that marketers’ obsession with achieving balance sheet recognition for brands is misplaced because the purpose and practices of financial accounting involve requirements that brands cannot meet. Rather, we see a significant opportunity for marketers to propose changes to management accounting so that the internal accounts of the business better reflect economic reality.

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Article Strategy

MIT SMR - Oct 2018: Why Brand Trumps Reputation

Commentary on Nike’s masterful alignment of its brand with a social cause that was authentic for the company to champion – and that drove purchase consideration among its target customers, even as it provoked a negative response from peripheral customers.

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Article Strategy

MIT SMR - Feb 2018: Selling Solutions is Not Enough

Coauthored with two senior marketing executives, we explore how B2B businesses have to go beyond talking about their capabilities (aka solutions) and focus on the outcomes that they enable their customers to achieve. We identify five areas in which change is required in order to reflect this orientation towards customer outcomes.

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