Willem Smit

Assistant Professor of Marketing, Asia School of Business
International Faculty Fellow at MIT

Area of Expertise:

Marketing Strategy, Digital Marketing, Branding, International Business

Prof. Willem Smit is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at the Asia School of Business and an International Faculty Fellow at MIT Sloan. His main expertise lies in strategy making and managerial cognition, particularly in the areas of digital marketing, global branding and new venture marketing. Prof. Smit earned his doctorate in Marketing from the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Prior to joining ASB, he was at IMD in Lausanne, SMU and NUS in Singapore, where he designed and delivered MBA and executive development programs for multinational companies in the telecom, pharmaceutical and consumer-packaged goods industries.

Willem Smit, PhD is an international and multi-disciplinary marketing and entrepreneurship scholar, whose research focuses on Strategy Making and Managerial Cognition.

In particular, the newly revolutionized and digitized decision environments for marketers fascinate him. Connected to the academic field of managerial cognition, his scholarly work has been around the theme of “Marketing Strategy Heuristics in search of Superior Performance” over the past several years.

Interestingly, there is still little consensus on how to devise a strategy for discovering, creating and maintaining a sustainable — at least temporary — competitive advantage for brands and firms. This ties in with one of the biggest and longest debates as to whether heuristics/biases are good/productive or bad/unproductive: while some scholars would argue that “strategic leaders’ superior ability to manage the mental process necessary to pursue cognitively distant opportunities;” others consider local search and opportunities “nearby” much more obvious and more directly linked to performance. Organized in three streams of research, he has studies using a variety of methodologies: surveys, experiments, and archival data analysis, where he focuses on:

  • Exploration heuristics: are opportunities far-away more attractive?
  • Experimentation heuristics: are opportunities nearby more creational?
  • Decision-Maker herself: are opportunities “nearby” or “faraway” preferred?

Prior to moving to South East Asia in 2011, Willem earned his PhD from the RSM Erasmus University in 2006. He joined IMD as a research fellow and began lecturing at the Université de Lausanne. He held teaching positions at various schools in the region, among others: Singapore Management University, an MIT affiliate Malaysia Institute for Supply Chain Innovation, Taylor’s University, and Hult Shanghai. In his 7+ years in Asia, Willem has built a 700+ member community of junior brand managers, called So-You-Think-You-Can-Brand. To monitor the ASEAN region’s economic integration at a consumer-level, he launched the ALL-ASEAN brands (allaseanbrands.com) last year.

Willem has published his studies in the Harvard Business Review, Journal of Business Venturing, and the Financial Times among others. His work has also received media attention in publications, such as Times, Bloomberg and Newsweek.

Besides traditional print publications, Willem experiments with disseminating his research findings through new social media. His video clip series, “Which Chinese/South African/Singapore/Indian brands are Best for the World,” on brands from emerging economies can be found and viewed on YouTube.

He has designed and delivered executive development programs for multinational companies in the telecom, pharmaceutical and consumer-packaged goods industries. Most recently, his All-ASEAN Digital course (www.allaseandigital.com) is an MBA-ExecEd hybrid where companies join students in the classroom to fix their Digital Marketing strategies. The typical setting of Action Learning is inverted: “Action Learning Outside-In” so to speak.

As a co-owner of a 5th generation family business, he advises the top management team and supervisory board on strategy and marketing.

  • Read, Stuart, Michael Song, and Willem Smit (2009); “A Meta-Analytic Review of Effectuation and Venture Performance.” Journal of Business Venturing, 24 (6), 573-587
  • Smit, Willem, and Michael Sorell (2010); “Why China Still Can’t Build Global Brands.” Harvard Business Review, January-February 2010
  • Smit, Willem, Catherine Tucker (2017) “New Measures of Cross-Cultural Affinity in Global Branding” preparation for submission (Target: Journal of Marketing).
  • Smit, Willem, Rene Mauer, Bill Forster, Jeffrey York, and Jessica Jones (2018) “Time to Emergence: The Dynamics of Effectuation in Nascent Ventures” Resubmit (ETP).
  • Smit, Willem, and Stuart Read (2017); “Uncertainty and Managerial Decision Heuristic Transitions over Micro and Macro Time.” Submitted Special Issue (Strategic Management Journal)
  • Nair, Rajesh, Willem Smit, and Iking Corpus (2018). The Impact and Ripple Effect of Maker Training: A Longitudinal Study Among Young Latent Entrepreneurs in Rural India. (Target: JBV).
  • Behaviors of strategists: putting themselves at risk?
    Baquero, Guillermo, Willem Smit and Luc Wathieu (2016) “Fairness in Sharing Gains and Losses: The Generosity Effect” preparation for submission (Target: Management Science)
  • Meehan, Seán, Patrick T. Barwise, Mark Vandenbosch, and Willem Smit (2011); “Capability Leveraging powered by Resource Bundling: The Case of Market Orientation and Organizational Culture.” IMD working paper
  • Smit, Willem, Felicitas Morhart, Séan Meehan, and Sébastien Groux (2010); “A Lasting Marketing Impact at the Top: Individual and Organizational Factors Influencing CMO Tenure.” IMD working paper.
  • Smit, Willem, Gerrit H. van Bruggen, Berend Wierenga, and Manish Kacker (2009); “The Antecedents of Information Sharing in Marketing Channels.” ERIM Report Series.
  • Smit, Willem and Seán Meehan (2008); “Truth or Dare: A Study of Falsehoods in Market Intelligence Dissemination within Organizations.” IMD working paper
  • All in a Twitter over Facebook? Social Internet Use at Pragmaticase IMD-3-2138
  • Royal Selangor: the Evolution of a Brand over Four Family Generations IMD-7-1542
  • Singapore Airlines Scoots into the Low-Cost Long-Haul Category SMU-13-0026
  • Fattal Group: Positioning the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs IMD-7-1541
  • Massive Collective: Redefining Cool in Nightspots SMU-14-0027
  • Movie, Money, Marketing: Branding “3 Peas in a Pod” SMU-15-0016
  • KFIT’S Hyper-Growth For A Fit Asia-Pacific, But What About The Land Down Under? ASB-16-001
  • Resistir e Vencer: Branding Timor-Leste ASB-16-003
  • Aishah dan Rakan-Rakan Pergi Shopping ASB-17-001