James G. March's research while affiliated with Stanford University and other places

Publications (89)

Article
https://calhoun.nps.edu/handle/10945/55154 Much of intellectual history is punctuated by the flaring of intellectual outliers, small groups of thinkers who briefly, but decisively, influence the development of ideas, technologies, policies, or worldviews. To understand the flaring of intellectual outliers, we use archival and interview data from t...
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One of the misfortunes of aging is the way in which the polite willingness of others to tolerate superannuated homilies reinforces a proclivity to pontificate. As one ages, one moves from writing papers that have something to say to writing papers that have nothing to say but say it with great seriousness. Unfortunately, awareness of the self-indul...
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The main task of scholars is to help good ideas forged by their predecessors find a new life in the imaginations of their successors. In this essay, we consider some aspects of this process from our experience with garbage can ideas of organizational decision making. We record our memories of initial encounters with them, impressions of their curre...
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Management and Organization Review Special Issue on ‘Ambiguity and Decision Making in Chinese Organizations and Thought’ - Volume 8 Issue 2 - Mie Augier, James G. March, Mooweon Rhee, Xueguang Zhou
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Management and Organization Review Special Issue on ‘Ambiguity and Decision Making in Chinese Organizations and Thought’ - Volume 8 Issue 1 - Mie Augier, James G. March, Mooweon Rhee, Xueguang Zhou
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The main task of scholars is to help good ideas forged by their predecessors find a new life in the imaginations of their successors. In this essay, we consider some aspects of this process from our experience with garbage can ideas of organizational decision making. We record our memories of initial encounters with them, impressions of their curre...
Chapter
The main task of scholars is to help good ideas forged by their predecessors find a new life in the imaginations of their successors. In this essay, we consider some aspects of this process from our experience with garbage can ideas of organizational decision making. We record our memories of initial encounters with them, impressions of their curre...
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Full-text available
As teorias políticas contemporâneas tendem a retratar a política como um reflexo da sociedade; os fenômenos políticos como as conseqüências agregadas do comportamento individual; a ação como o resultado de escolhas baseadas no interesse pessoal calculado; a história como sendo eficiente no alcance de desfechos singulares e adequados e a tomada de d...
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The papers in this special issue focus on ideas associated with a book published 45 years ago, A Behavioral Theory of the Firm (Cyert, R.M., March, J.G., 1963. A Behavioral Theory of the Firm. Endlewood Cliffs. Prentice Hall, NJ). The book proposed the introduction of a few more realistic behavioral assumptions into the economic theory of the firm....
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The correspondence between Herbert Simon and Oliver Williamson reveals a history of disagreement ultimately resolved by a reinstatement of mutual respect and agreement. On the surface, the disagreements concern questions about the appropriate trade-offs between realism and comprehension in economic theory, on the extent to which the theory should b...
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Contemporary theories of politics tend to portray politics as a reflection of society, political phenomena as the aggregate consequences of individual behavior, action as the result of choices based on calculated self-interest, history as efficient in reaching unique and appropriate outcomes, and decision making and the allocation of resources as t...
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Henrik Ibsen wrote his first play in 1850 and wrote three plays in verse, Love's Comedy (Kjarlighedens Komedie) (1862), Brand (1866), and Peer Gynt (1867), before he began the cycle of twelve prose plays written from 1877 to 18991 that assured his fame. The intent in this essay is to explore the implications for students of organizations of some of...
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Scholarship is less an individual than a collective activity. The history of A Behavioral Theory of the Firm illustrates two key aspects of the collective nature of scholarship. The first aspect is the dependence of scholarship on the institutions of scholarship. For a period of about 10 years beginning around 1954, The Graduate School of Industria...
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The history of North American management education can be viewed as an extended debate over the proper balance between experiential knowledge and academic knowledge in the pursuit of relevance. This article explores some features of that debate, including arguments that relevance is usually ambiguous and myopic and consequently potentially pernicio...
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The history of organization studies is embedded in its times and the ways those times affect different regions differently. In particular, significant features of the field were molded by the moods and prejudices associated with academia after three critical events in 20th-century history: (1) the Second World War, (2) the social and political prot...
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Classical theories of omniscient rationality in organizational decision-making have largely been replaced by a view of limited rationality, but no similar concern has been reflected in the analysis of organizational learning. There has been a tendency to model a simple complete cycle of learning from unambiguous experience and to ignore cognitive a...
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This article examines what Joseph Schumpeter said on the emergence of novelty in economic institutions, what Sidney Winter did to build on and deviate from that foundation, and what puzzles remain. Winter built a framework for answers to a puzzle that Schumpeter could not solve—how novelty emerges in a system based on routines. He identified two ma...
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Technologies of model-based rationality are the core technologies of strategic management, having largely replaced earlier technologies that placed greater reliance on traditional practice or on communication either with the stars or with the gods. The technologies used by organizations in their pursuit of intelligence can be imagined to change ove...
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An exploration of William Butler Yeats's poem Easter 1916 as an illustration of the proposition that poetry is a natural medium for expressing and contemplating doubt, paradox, and contradiction—features of life, well-known to experienced managers, but normally banished, perhaps with reason, from the public language of management.
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The history of international political orders is written in terms of continuity and change in domestic and international political relations. As a step toward understanding such continuity and change, we explore some ideas drawn from an institutional perspective. An institutional perspective is characterized in terms of two grand issues that divide...
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Since the Second World War, the field of organizations studies has grown substantially in the number of researchers, number of publications, and amount of research produced. It has moved from being a combination of established disciplines to becoming a quasi-discipline of its own, with its own journals and professional associations. It has establis...
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To sketch an institutional approach, this paper elaborates ideas presented over 20 years ago in The New Institutionalism: Organizational Factors in Political Life (March and Olsen 1984). Institutionalism, as that term is used here, connotes a general approach to the study of political institutions, a set of theoretical ideas and hypotheses concerni...
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James G. March (born 1928) received his PhD in political science from Yale University in 1953 and went to Carnegie Mellon University (then Carnegie Tech) where he contributed to the origins of modern organization and management theory, initially through his coauthorship of the two classic books, Organizations (March & Simon, 1958) and A Behavioral...
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The logic of appropriateness is a perspective that sees human action as driven by rules of appropriate or exemplary behavior, organized into institutions. Rules are followed because they are seen as natural, rightful, expected, and legitimate. Actors seek to fulfill the obligations encapsulated in a role, an identity, a membership in a political co...
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The organizations research community is a multidisciplinary, multinational and multilingual association of scholars with all the paraphernalia of international exchange. Nevertheless, it is a community that is organized in a geographically fragmented way, with linguistic, national, cultural and regional boundaries separating relatively autonomous s...
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Organizations learn from experience. Sometimes, however, history is not generous with experience. We explore how organizations convert infrequent events into interpretations of history, and how they balance the need to achieve agreement on interpretations with the need to interpret history correctly. We ask what methods are used, what problems are...
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I Economics of choice: the behavioural theory of the firm in action, Lars Engwall, Rickard Danell corporate governance, executive compensation and the the theory of the firm, Sok-Hyon Kang, Praveen Kumar dynamic capabilities, competence and the behaviour theory of the firm, J. Lamar Pierce, Christopher S. Boerner, David J. Teece. II Information and...
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All leaders will face difficult circumstances. These will frequently have little or nothing to do with anything the leader created or can influence. Administrators of community colleges, particularly presidents, are commonly neither prepared nor trained to face a tougher, and perhaps meaner, job than in earlier years; those who would lead should un...
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This paper surveys Herbert A. Simon’s work over more than five decades of research, focusing particularly on his early publications and his contributions to behavioral economics, including the importance of the interdisciplinary research program with which he was associated at Carnegie Mellon University in the1950s and early 1960s. We argue that al...
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Individuals and social systems are often portrayed as risk averse and resistant to change. Such propensities are characteristically attributed to individual, organizational, and cultural traits such as risk aversion, uncertainty-avoidance, discounting, and an unwillingness to change. This paper explores an alternative interpretation of such phenome...
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Most studies of organizational performance define performance as a dependent variable and seek to identify variables that produce variations in performance. Researchers who study organizational performance in this way typically devote little attention to the complications of using such a formulation to characterize the causal structure of performan...
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This article examines some basic assumptions about the nature of political institutions, the ways in which practices and rules that comprise institutions are established, sustained, and transformed, and the ways in which those practices and rules are converted into political behavior through the mediation of interpretation and capability. We discus...
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Predictions of the future of organizations are variations on a theme of fantasy: reliably incorrect and usefully seductive. To illustrate a few general points about the role of imagination in human existence, some predictions about the future of organizations are developed from an interpretation of the environments that will shape organizational su...
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Most social scientists agree with the statement that institutions matter. However, they disagree over the extent to which they matter. This review focuses on the fundamental disagreements between rational choice, sociological, and historical institutionalists over the value of structural, cultural, and action-based explanations of social phenomena....
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Organizational learning has many virtues, virtues which recent writings in strategic management have highlighted. Learning processes, however, are subject to some important limitations. As is well-known, learning has to cope with confusing experience and the complicated problem of balancing the competing goals of developing new knowledge (i.e., exp...
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Empirical investigations of decision making indicate that the level of individual or organizational risk taking is responsive to a risk taker's changing fortune. Several nonstationary random-walk models of risk taking are developed to describe this phenomenon. Models portray a risk taker's history as the cumulated realizations of a series of indepe...
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Empirical investigations of decision making indicate that the level of individual or organizational risk taking is responsive to a risk taker's changing fortune. Several nonstationary random-walk models of risk taking are developed to describe this phenomenon. The models portray a risk taker's history as the cumulated realizations of a series of in...
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This essay is a story about how we might think about decisions and decision making in organizations. The story is divided into three major parts. The first part is based on a vision of decisions as resulting from intendedly rational choice. Such a vision is the dominant portrayal of decisions in social science. This vision of decisions is elaborate...
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Examines the correlation between the exploration of new possibilities and the exploitation of old certainties in organizational learning. Also discusses the difficulty in balancing resource management between gaining new information about alternatives to improve future returns (i.e., exploration) and using information currently available to improve...
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Some of Lou Pondy's closest colleagues were invited to submit letters and articles, as a starting point for this special issue. Many letters were received from leading scholars at some of the most respected institutions in the world, capturing Lou's human qualities and his unique analytic style. A selection of these letters are included here.
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This paper reviews the literature on organizational learning. Organizational learning is viewed as routine-based, history-dependent, and target-oriented. Organizations are seen as learning by encoding inferences from history into routines that guide behavior. Within this perspective on organizational learning, topics covered include how organizatio...
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Observations of human decision making indicate that risk preferences depend on the values of possible outcomes relative to levels of aspiration. A model of such variable risk preference is specified. It suggests that some risk averse behavior may result from a human tendency to focus on targets and from the adaptation of those targets to experience...
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This paper argues that theories of choice, as reflected in micro economics, n-person game theory, or statistical decision theory, are incomplete and potentially misleading bases for thinking about and modifying the design of information systems, including accounting systems. The argument stems from recent behavioral research on the ambiguities surr...
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This paper explores the relation between decision theoretic conceptions of risk and the conceptions held by executives. It considers recent studies of risk attitudes and behavior among managers against the background of conceptions of risk derived from theories of choice. We conclude that managers take risks and exhibit risk preferences, but the pr...
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Contemporary research on organizations has cast doubt on the extent to which organizations can be expected to adapt to their environments through rational, anticipatory action. Incremental experiential learning has been suggested as an alternative form of organizational intelligence, less demanding cognitively yet capable of considerable power. Thi...
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This paper is about criteria for assessing alternative political institutions in a society committed to popular sovereignty. The issues are classic, and we do not attempt a comprehensive review of the ways in which they run through political and economic thought since Aristotle. An aggregative perspective on political institutions, which describes...
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Organized anarchies are organizations characterized by problematic preferences, unclear technology, and fluid participation. Recent studies of universities, a familiar form of organized anarchy, suggest that such organizations can be viewed for some purposes as collections of choices looking for problems, issues and feelings looking for decision si...
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Submitted to the Graduate School Business. Copyright by the author. Thesis (Ph. D.)--Stanford University, 2003.
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Submitted to the Graduate School of Business. Copyright by the author. Thesis (Ph. D.)--Stanford University, 2003.
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major focus of the chapter is on a technological failure—the failure of senior managers to use computer-based technologies (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Citations

... In many universities, business schools provide a steady, significant, and robust source of income (predominantly from international student fees) for the wider university. Business and management studies are highly popular globally (Augier & March, 2011) and include leadership studies. The social constructivist approach adopted in this paper differs from the North American and Western European positivism that dominates management research and scholarship (Grey & Willmott, 2002). ...
... Second, states with limited bureaucratic capacity may also mimic the negotiating positions of counterparts with extensive negotiating experience and experience from defending international legal claims because they are seen as more "appropriate" than their own policies (March and Olsen, 1998). Administrative culture and foreign policies are core soft power assets (Nye, 2004), and for states with limited bureaucratic capacity, the negotiating positions of more experienced states might seem appealing to the extent that they choose to opt into them during negotiations, even though they started the negotiations with other positions. ...
... The premise of linearity suggests that transformations of whole systems can be accelerated by institutional reforms that will foster favorable "input" conditions (cf. March and Olsen 1998 ;Ruggie 1998a ). The assumption of ergodicity suggests that no matter how messy and noisy the local environment is, policymakers can utilize the above-mentioned knowledge and create plausible plans for its transformation. ...
... In many universities, business schools provide a steady, significant, and robust source of income (predominantly from international student fees) for the wider university. Business and management studies are highly popular globally (Augier & March, 2011) and include leadership studies. The social constructivist approach adopted in this paper differs from the North American and Western European positivism that dominates management research and scholarship (Grey & Willmott, 2002). ...
... Such specialisation is typically defined through close connections to a profession and/or a specific sector such as agriculture, business, medicine, theology, and technology and engineering. Studies of HEIs have occasionally also chosen a specific category for the object of study, such as investigations by Bennis and O'Toole (2005) and Augier and March (2011) that focused on business schools. However, such work has largely taken these categories of horizontal differentiation-and individual HEIs' positioning within these categories-as given. ...
... However, evidence from the literature is mixed regarding slack's effect on risk. Some studies suggest that slack provides discretionary resources that can be used for experimentation, innovation, and risk-taking (Schumpeter, 1950;Mansfield, 1961;March, 1981). Others provide evidence that slack leads to postponing risk-taking and searching for alternatives that will resolve performance shortfalls (Cyert & March, 1963;Meyer, 1982;Sharfman, Wolf, Chase, & Tansik, 1988;March, 1989). ...
... El tema de la gobernanza ha sido objeto de numerosos trabajos en el terreno de la administración pública, de la sociología y de la organización de los servicios de salud (14)(15)(16)(17)(18)(19). Estos trabajos prestan una atención explícita a los mecanismos que permiten producir en la sociedad la convergencia entre actores dispersos y los intereses potencialmente divergentes, con el fin de alcanzar objetivos colectivos (20,21). Clásicamente, en la ciencia de la administración, la gobernanza es definida en función de la relación desarrollada entre una organización y sus propietarios. ...
... Zo bevestigt (Lomi & Harrison, 2012): "[…] het garbage-can model werd gepresenteerd als een model van organisaties -maar, toegegeven, slechts één van zulke mogelijke modellen.", verwijzend naar (March & Olsen, 1986). Hierbij wordt er op micro-basis besproken hoe oplossingen en problemen elkaar vinden, eerder dan dat er een causale redenering aan te pas komt. ...
... Then, we discuss the implications for innovation by examining two cases-Apple Inc. and the AmorePacific Corp.-and discuss the main points derived from the Confucian approach and how they relate to and extend some ideas proposed by recent studies. Our paper contributes to the rapidly emerging collective efforts of management scholars to develop Asian theories of management (i.e., the exploration of new explanations for management phenomena, based on Asian perspectives and theories) rather than focusing on theories of Asian management (i.e., the exploitation of theories developed elsewhere for explaining the management phenomena in Asian contexts) (Barney & Zhang, 2009;Rhee, 2010), e.g., the Academy of Management Journal's special issue on BWest meets East: New concepts and theories^ (Barkema, Chen, George, Luo, & Tsui, 2015), Management and Organization Review's special issue on BAmbiguity and decision making in Chinese organizations and thought^ (Augier, March, Rhee, & Zhou, 2012), and Asia Pacific Journal of Management's special issue on BIndigenous management research in Asia^ (Li, Sekiguchi, & Zhou, 2016). We offer a Confucian approach to exploitation and exploration that generates two intriguing points: the balance between them should emerge spontaneously while striving for substantive learning to accomplish the mission with sincerity, and this balance should have a dynamic form of continuous alternation between exploitation and exploration. ...
... It is interesting that one of Jim's former students, Mooweon Rhee, also shares the view that Jim was not only interested in, but also highly consistent with, Chinese traditional thinking (Rhee, 2012). Further, despite my strong desire to do joint research with Jim, he told me he would not collaborate with anyone who had not had dinner with him. ...