ISMD grew out of two primary foundations: a fast developing interest in the field of marketing and development, and the building of a critical mass and collegiality among scholars from around the world. The Macromarketing Seminar was the starting point.
A small group of individuals wanted to begin with a focused conference on marketing and economic development. Initial attempts early in the 1980s did not succeed. The idea received a strong boost when Professor Melmet Oluç of Istanbul University offered to host the conference and Professors A. Fuat Firat and Erdogan Kumcu took the initiative and responsibility of organizing the First International Conference of Markets and Development (ICMD-I) in 1986.
Sponsored by the Journal of Macromarketing, NOMAD (Newsletter of Markets and Development), Association for Consumer Research, Istanbul University, Ball State University and Appalachian State University, the first conference achieved a great success. In keeping with the objectives instituted by the founding coordinators, the conference stressed not just the economic but multidimensional perspectives on development, and worldwide participation. It attracted academics, public policy makers and practitioners.
Supported by renowned scholars in marketing, the success of the first conference led to requests for additional conferences by participants. Forming an association was felt to be premature, but the endorsement for future conferences was very strong.
The interest in the role of marketing in development was evident at ICMD-II held in Budapest, Hungary, at the then Karl Marx School of Economics in June 1988. Coordinated by James E. Littlefield from the United States and Magda Czath from Hungary, the site attracted many Eastern Bloc scholars and offered many scholars the opportunity to address issues critical to market transformation in that part of the world.
Although the lack of formal organization posed some difficulties, it was decided that Erdogan Kumcu of Ball State University would continue to be the focus of information exchange and correspondence. The network of past conference committee members, instituted through Kumcu, evaluated eight proposals and selected New Delhi as the site for ICMD-III.
New Delhi was proposed by Professor Labdhi Bhandari of IIM-Ahmedabad and Ruby Roy Dholakia of the University of Rhode Island, U.S.A. The unfortunate death of Dr. Bhandari created many challenges which were overcome by the efforts of Professor Kiran Bothra of IIM-Calcutta. Attended by over 300 faculty and managers from India in addition to scholars from around the world, this successful conference confirmed the strong appeal of marketing and development issues.
A small group was charged in New Delhi to prepare the incorporation documents for the International Society for Markets and Development. The Society was registered in Indiana in December 1992. The incorporation papers were presented at the Fourth Conference held in San Jose, Costa Rica, in 1993, chaired by Luis Dominguez and Carlos Sequeira.
Members (constituted of all participants to ICMD-IV) then elected the Society’s first Board of Directors. The Board reflected the global diversity and varied interest of members. Conferences have since been held in Beijing, China , Mangalia, Romania (1997), Accra, Ghana (2000), Bangkok, Thailand (2003), Thessaloniki, Greece (2005), Washington, DC (2007) and Hanoi, Vietnam (2010). Future conferences are planned for Morocco (2012), London, UK (2014), Lima, Peru (2016).