In Memoriam: Louis “Pete” Bucklin – marketing professor emeritus

Louis “Pete” Bucklin, a business professor at the University of California, Berkeley, for more than 40 years, passed away on the morning of June 16, 2012, at the age of 83 at Cupertino, CA.

Bucklin joined UC Berkeley’s School of Business Administration in 1960 as an assistant professor of marketing. In 1967, he became associate professor and, three years later, chair of the Marketing and International Business Group. From 1971 to 1984, Bucklin served as director of the school’s Ph.D. program. He became associate dean for the school in 1981, a position he held until 1983.

As a senior faculty member, Bucklin was known to mentor assistant professors. “Pete was a guiding light in the Marketing group when I first arrived at Berkeley, a friend to all junior faculty, and a very pleasant man,” says Professor Andrew Rose, associate dean for academic affairs.  “He leaves a gap in our midst and I will miss him.”

Pete Bucklin’s contributions to the marketing group and the Haas School of Business have been tremendous. Bucklin was a pioneer in marketing distribution and channel theory. Bucklin’s colleagues say his ground-breaking research on the modern perspective of distribution systems in marketing has been highly influential.

“His seminal monograph, A Theory of Distribution Channel Structure, published in 1966, has been a mainstay of the distribution channels literature over the past 40 years,” says Haas Prof. Emeritus John Myers. “He contributed greatly to the reputation and prestige of the Berkeley marketing group and will be sorely missed by his many friends and colleagues. “

“In many ways, he can be seen as the father of the main ideas for the current research on distribution channels and industrial marketing,” says Professor J. Miguel Villas-Boas, chair of the Haas Marketing Group. 

A Theory of Distribution Channel Structure presented a general framework for the analysis of business networks and distribution systems, adds Villas-Boas. The book highlights the importance of considering the different types of functions carried out in a channel of distribution, and the costs of performing these functions with different patterns of organization in a channel. The overall costs depend on scale economies, interaction effects among activities, and incentives of the different economic agents.

“These ideas, and its implications for business networks as well as distribution channels, became central to the practice and research on distribution channels,” says Villas-Boas. “Pete was also a wonderful colleague, and great mentor, and will be immensely missed by us all.”

During the course of his career, Bucklin received several honors for his work, notably the American Marketing Association’s Paul D. Converse Award in 1986 for his significant and outstanding contribution to the theory and science in marketing. In 1993, the Journal of Marketing awarded Bucklin its Alpha Kappa Psi Award for significant contribution to the advancement of marketing practice made by his article, “Organizing Successful Co-Marketing Alliances, ” co-authored with Sanjit Sengupta. This article investigated why marketing alliances succeed or fail and linked the variation to imbalances in power and management capabilities between the organizations in an alliance.

Bucklin retired from the Haas School of Business in 1993 – the same year his daughter, Rhonda Bucklin, graduated from the school’s full-time MBA program – after more than 30 years of service to the university as a distinguished scholar and popular instructor.

After retiring, Bucklin continued teaching various marketing courses as a professor emeritus until spring 2001. In 1998, students in the full-time MBA program honored Bucklin with the Earl F. Cheit Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Bucklin graduated from Dartmouth College in 1950. In 1954, he earned his MBA at Harvard Business School. He studied at Northwestern University’s School of Management where he earned his Ph.D. in 1960. He was also the Sloan Teaching Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1959 through 1960.

Bucklin adored his family and friends.  He also had an enormous appreciation for the outdoors, exploring the world, and photography.  He could be heard saying, “I am blessed to have such an exceptional family,” alongside of “The trip was marvelous.” 

Bucklin was born on September 20, 1928 in New York, NY. In 1956 he married Weylene Edwards and together they raised two children, Rhonda Bucklin of Menlo Park and Randolph E. Bucklin of Los Angeles who is Professor of Marketing and the Peter W. Mullin Chair in Management at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. Mrs. Bucklin passed away in 2007. Bucklin is survived by his two children and five grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held on Monday, July 9, at 2:30 p.m. at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center, Community Hall, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd, Lafayette, CA. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to either the Lafayette Library and Learning Center Foundation or Planned Parenthood Shasta Pacific.