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Madhu Viswanathan, Ph.D. - Loyola Marymount University. Los Angeles, CA, US

Madhu Viswanathan, Ph.D.

Professor of Marketing, College of Business Administration | Loyola Marymount University


Director, D.K. Kim Foundation Business for Good Program



Madhu Viswanathan, Ph.D. Publication Madhu Viswanathan, Ph.D. Publication Madhu Viswanathan, Ph.D. Publication Madhu Viswanathan, Ph.D. Publication Madhu Viswanathan, Ph.D. Publication Madhu Viswanathan, Ph.D. Publication






You can contact Madhu Viswanathan at Madhubalan.Viswanathan@lmu.edu.

Madhu Viswanathan (B.Tech, Mechanical Engineering, IIT, Madras, 1985; Ph.D. (Marketing), University of Minnesota, 1990) is Professor of Marketing, College of Business Administration at Loyola Marymount University, and Professor Emeritus, Gies College of Business, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His research programs are on measurement and subsistence marketplaces, where he has authored several books including Measurement Error and Research Design (Sage, 2005), Enabling Consumer and Entrepreneurial Literacy in Subsistence Marketplaces (Springer, 2008), Subsistence Marketplaces (2013), and Bottom-Up Enterprise (2016). He pioneered the area of subsistence marketplaces, a bottom-up approach to poverty and marketplaces (www.business.illinois.edu/subsistence). He teaches courses on research methods, subsistence, and sustainability reaching thousands of students in-person and online. He founded and directs the Marketplace Literacy Project (www.marketplaceliteracy.org), pioneering marketplace literacy education that has reached more than 100,000 women across four continents. He has received numerous awards and served on the Livelihoods Advisory Board of UNHCR.

Education (2)

University of Minnesota: Ph.D., Marketing 1990

Indian Institute of Technology: B.S., Mechanical Engineering 1985

Areas of Expertise (4)


Subsistence Marketplaces


Research Methods and Measurement

Accomplishments (3)

AIB Teaching Innovation Award (professional)


The inaugural 2021 Academy of International Business (AIB) Teaching Innovation Award was presented to Madhu Viswanathan for his efforts exploring "Global Virtual Immersion in a Post-Covid World.”

AMA Lifetime Achievement Award (professional)


The American Marketing Association’s (AMA) 2021 Marketing and Society Special Interest Group’s Lifetime Achievement Award was conferred on Madhu Viswanathan for his scholarship in subsistence marketplaces, marketplace literacy, and contributions to marketing and society/public policy disciplines.

AMA William L. Wilkie “Marketing for a Better World” Award (professional)


The William L. Wilkie “Marketing for a Better World” Award is presented by the American Marketing Association (AMA). This prestigious award honors marketing thinkers who have significantly contributed to our understanding and appreciation for marketing’s potential to improve our world, and from whose work notable advances have ensued.

Affiliations (4)

  • Academy of Management
  • American Marketing Association
  • Association for Consumer Research
  • Society for Consumer Psychology

Articles (5)

Negotiated Agency in the Face of Consumption Constraints: A Study of Women Entrepreneurs in Subsistence Contexts

Journal of Public Policy and Marketing

Srinivas Venugopal, Madhubalan Viswanathan


Millions of women entrepreneurs in subsistence contexts face consumption constraints while embedded in strongly patriarchal social institutions. In these contexts, the place for women is believed to be within the home as homemakers and not in the market as entrepreneurs. Yet these women are able to overcome gender-based institutional barriers and engage with the marketplace as entrepreneurs as a way to overcome consumption constraints. The authors conducted a longitudinal qualitative study of women entrepreneurs in low-income neighborhoods of Chennai, India, to understand (1) what motivates women to overcome the gender-based institutional barriers to entrepreneurial action and (2) how they can overcome the “iron cage” of institutional norms to initiate and sustain entrepreneurial action. The findings help the authors theorize the process of negotiated agency and elaborate on the microprocesses that underlie its enactment. Substantively, they demonstrate how consumption constraints in poverty trigger entrepreneurial agency among low-income women. The authors build on the findings to offer welfare-enhancing policy recommendations.

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Implementation of Social Innovations in Subsistence Marketplaces: A Facilitated Institutional Change Process

Journal of Product Innovation Management

Srinivas Venugopal, Madhubalan Viswanathan


Implementation of social innovations in subsistence marketplaces often fails as a result of not bringing about institutional change. In this article, we study the process through which social enterprises facilitate local communities in effecting the process of institutional change as they introduce social innovations. Analyzing rich ethnographic data from 19 social enterprises, we develop the process of “facilitated institutional work” for implementing social innovation. We present a process model for implementing social innovation with four distinct stages involving social enterprises—(1) legitimating themselves within local communities, (2) disrupting aspects of the local institutional environment, (3) helping re‐envision institutional norms or practices, and (4) resourcing the institutional change process. The four stages relate to important concerns that local communities have in working with social enterprises implementing social innovations. These community‐level concerns revolve around the following questions: (1) Why should we allow an external social enterprise to be involved in our affairs? (2) Why do we need to change? (3) What should we change and what should we sustain? and (4) What role should we play in implementing change (such as in mobilizing resources)? This article demonstrates that bringing about institutional change is often necessary for implementing social innovations in subsistence marketplaces. The findings depict a participatory approach in which social enterprises work with local communities to bring about the institutional conditions necessary for implementing social innovation.

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"Unequal But Essential” How Subsistence Consumer-Entrepreneurs Negotiate Unprecedented Shock With Extraordinary Resilience During COVID19

Journal of Consumer Affairs

Viswanathan, Madhubalan, Hussein Aly, Ronald Duncan, and Namrata Mandhan


Extreme Marketplace Exclusion in Subsistence Marketplaces: A Study in a Refugee Settlement in Nakivale, Uganda

Journal of Consumer Affairs

Madhubalan Viswanathan, Arun Sreekumar, Robert Arias

Largely excluded from marketing literature are individuals in subsistence marketplaces. We synthesize prior research to identify a phenomenon we term “extreme marketplace exclusion.” We conduct a qualitative study in a refugee settlement to delineate how elements of such exclusion manifest and their interrelationships. We conclude discussing theoretical and practical implications.

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Marketplace literacy education and coping behaviors among subsistence consumer–entrepreneurs during demonetization in India

Journal of Consumer Affairs

Madhubalan Viswanathan, Saravana Jaikumar, Arun Sreekumar, Shantanu Dutta


We study the impact of marketplace literacy education on marketplace coping behaviors in the face of systemic shock due to demonetization, deriving important implications for consumer affairs from this radically distinct context. We study whether and how such education can have positive impact even in the face of such macrolevel disruption that disproportionately affects those with the least resources and renders them even more vulnerable. Marketplace literacy education encompasses awareness and knowledge about marketing as well as self‐confidence and awareness of rights as buyers and sellers. We examine the influence of marketplace literacy in urban and rural areas on coping behaviors of low‐income women consumer–entrepreneurs during demonetization in India, using a retrospective survey. We derive implications to mitigate the effect of future shocks on consumers and entrepreneurs at the vulnerable end of the income spectrum.

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