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Theodore Levitt, 81; Economist First to Use the Term 'Globalization'

July 09, 2006|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Theodore Levitt, 81, the former Harvard Business Review editor who coined the term "globalization," died June 28 at his home in Belmont, Mass., after a battle with prostate cancer.

Levitt first earned fame in 1960 after publishing "Marketing Myopia," a Harvard Business Review article in which he called marketing a "stepchild" in most corporations, which he said concentrated too much on creating and selling products. He said certain companies and industries were declining because management defined the scope of their businesses too narrowly.

Levitt first used "globalization" in a 1983 Harvard Business Review article about the emergence of standardized, low-priced consumer products. He defined the term as the changes in social behaviors and technology that allowed companies to sell the same products around the world.

Levitt was born in 1925 in Vollmerz, Germany. His family moved to Dayton, Ohio, in 1935 to escape the Nazis. After serving in Europe during World War II, he attended Antioch College and earned a doctorate in economics from Ohio State University in 1951. He taught at the University of North Dakota and worked as a consultant in the oil industry before joining Harvard's business school in 1959.

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