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Madhu Viswanathan, PhD


Madhu Viswanathan is the Diane and Steven N. Miller Professor in Business at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he has been on the faculty since 1990. He earned a B. Tech in Mechanical Engineering (Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India, 1985), and a PhD in Marketing (University of Minnesota, 1990). His research programs are in two areas; measurement and research methodology, and literacy, poverty, and subsistence marketplace behaviors.

He founded and directs the Subsistence Marketplaces Initiative and has pioneered the area of enquiry and practice entitled subsistence marketplaces, taking a bottom-up approach to the study of the intersection of poverty and marketplaces and developing unique synergies between research, teaching, and social initiatives. He also founded and directs the Marketplace Literacy Project, a non-profit organization pioneering the design and delivery of marketplace literacy education to low-income consumers and subsistence marketplaces. Through his organization and partners, tens of thousands of women have received marketplace literacy education – with ongoing programs in India, Tanzania, Uganda, Argentina, Honduras, Mexico, and Illinois.

Madhu has also served as the chair of the Consumer Behavior Special Interest Group of the American Marketing Association, secretary-treasurer of the Society for Consumer Psychology, and associate editor for the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing. He has served as the director of graduate studies for the Department of Business Administration, University of Illinois. He taught the first course on Coursera out of the Gies College of Business, University of Illinois, and was the faculty advisor for the college’s online iMBA, leading a large team to launch the startup program, design and implement key curricular policies and innovations and enable sustainability.