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  • Writer's pictureLina Altenburg

Who is P.K. Kannan?

Written by Lina Altenburg, Ph.D candidate at KU Leuven (Belgium)

I don’t believe that P.K. Kannan really needs an introduction. Especially not to you, our readers of the IJRM newsletter. You know P.K. as a former editor-in-chief of IJRM. He took over the editorship from Ronald Rust in 2018 and handed it over to our current editorial team in 2021. During his time as an editor, he helped publish 139 papers (yes I counted them), spread over 12 issues, including one special issue and three special sections. The journal's impact factor skyrocketed due to his editorship, reaching its highest level of 8.047 in 2021.

P.K. is also the editor for the special section on “Global Marketing Strategy”, which was published in the June issue of IJRM in 2022. The special section covers a fast array of topics, with a focus on how developments in technology, data, and business models advance global marketing strategies and thereby help firms to compete and grow globally.

This all sounds great on paper, but the question remains: Who is P.K.? I had the chance to interview him about the special section on “Global Marketing Strategy” for this newsletter, and then, a few weeks later, coincidentally got seated next to him on our flight to the European Marketing Academy (EMAC) conference in Denmark. This is how I would describe P.K.:

P.K. is...

... a visionary

P.K. has a great view of developing the research field. He has published a few groundbreaking papers himself. The paper “Digital marketing: a framework, review and research agenda” (IJRM best paper award winner in 2017) which he wrote together with Hongshuang “Alice” Li, has received more than 1600 citations on google scholar / more than 500 citations on Scopus and sparked research ideas that are now published in the major marketing journals.

"Because more and more interactions are going online, the impact of privacy and cyber security on marketing elements will be very interesting topics to examine"

- P.K. Kannan

For the special section on Global Marketing Strategy, it was especially important for him that the papers provide future research directions. But since the publication of the special section, new research topics emerged. As P.K. points out, research in the domain of cyber security or global supply chain are important topics that complement the research of the special section.

“In retrospect I wish we had added a paper focussing on supply chain aspects. Global strategy and supply chain; marketing strategy and supply chain. This is a very important topic

- P.K. Kannan

... a mentor

P.K. has supervised many Ph.D. students during his career and he keeps on supporting starting scholars by generously sharing his expertise. In 2018, he was also awarded the distinguished Scholar-Teacher award from the University of Maryland.

For the special section on “Global Marketing Strategy”, a focus is put on providing unique opportunities for PhDs and young academics. The special section emerged from a conference organized by Raj Srivastava and V. Kumar. The conference invited thought leaders in the domains of important marketing topics and grouped them with starting researchers and more senior academics to develop a paper for IJRM. This gave the junior scholars the possibility to learn from well-known research experts in the field and contribute to an IJRM publication.

“The idea was giving a chance to younger [scholars], so they get a chance to publish at IJRM”

- P.K. Kannan

P.K. Kannan during the Reviewer Workshop at EMAC 2023

... a rigorous researcher

P.K. had a very clear vision regarding the quality of the papers and review process for the special section. It was very important for him that the papers are of high quality, even if they were invited papers. At the beginning of the project, the authors of the papers received detailed feedback on their ideas, and the papers were then sent to reviewers who did not know about the special section and evaluated them like regular research papers.

... a realist

P.K. was very realistic about the fact that every paper has a shelf life and that the goal of editors should be to publish papers with a shelf life and impact on research to last as long as possible. This was his main reason for pushing the authors of the special section to include future research directions, that can be valuable sources for research ideas.

However, he admits, nobody can perfectly predict the future. Sometimes the world-order changes and not everything develops as expected. Research streams change and new research opportunities emerge. Looking back on his 2017 Digital marketing paper, he reflects that he still likes the papers and sees their value for the research community. However, Covid 19 has changed some of the paper’s claims and predictions. This should not be a disappointment, but rather an encouragement to further research in this area!

... an optimist

During our conversations, I was amazed by how many research ideas P.K. has and how excited he gets when he is talking about them.

“Any new things that happen in technology and society have marketing implications”

- P.K. Kannan

One of the upcoming projects that should also be noted is the special issue on Video Gaming in Marketing, which he organizes together with Michael Haenlein from ESCP Business School in France. The special issue will be published at IJRM and the submission deadline is only at the end of 2023. So check out the call for papers, maybe your research is the missing piece of the puzzle for this special issue!

... the best person to be randomly seated next to on an airplane

I hope P.K. forgives me for keeping him awake after his transatlantic flight, but I am very grateful to have had the chance to talk to him during that journey. It was a lovely conversation, and the time of the flight went by without noticing. He is a person that up-and-coming researchers, like me, can learn a lot from and he is more than willing to share his insights.

... full of surprises

After we chatted for about one hour, P.K. ended our conversation with an almost perfect "Auf Wiedersehen" - I didn’t know he was learning German in school but it was a nice surprise to find out.

Special Issues of IJRM

Are you interested in upcoming special issues? Visit the overview of past and upcoming special issues of IJRM here.

Read the papers

Are you interested in reading or citing the papers of the Global Marketing Strategy special section? The special section was included in the second Issue of 2022. You can find the full issue here.


This article was written by

Lina Altenburg

Ph.D. candidate at the KU Leuven (Belgium)

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