Interview with James March

12 October 2006 at 12:02 pm 2 comments

| Peter Klein |

The October 2006 Harvard Business Review features an interview with James March, one of the most important organizational theorists of the twentieth century. Here’s an online version (possibly behind a subscription firewall). Here’s a summary from the Jackson Library Blog (which I’m finding more and more useful all the time):

The article is called ‘Ideas as Art’ (pp. 82-89). In the introductory part, the author quotes the University of Chicago professor John Padgett who once wrote: “Jim March is to organization theory what Miles Davis is to jazz.” In the interview, March elaborates on the distinction he makes between the practical managerial needs and concerns and scholarly approach to new ideas. He values ideas which contain “some form of elegance or grace or surprise — all the things that beauty gives you” and not being relevant to the immediate needs of an organization manager in a short run. He also explains the essence of his rather famous and colorfully named theories: “garbage can theory”, “technology of foolishness”, and “hot-stove effect”. The interview reveals not only a great and original scholar but also the multifaceted personality of Jim March, a man with appreciation for literature, a poet himself and an author of several books of poetry. In his own words: “What might make a difference to us, I think, is whether in our tiny roles, in our brief time, we inhabit life gently and add more beauty than ugliness.”

Aside from being a brilliant and original thinker, March is also one of the funniest people I have ever met, a brilliant after-dinner speaker who has as many Wisconsin jokes as Garrison Keillor has Minnesota jokes.

Here’s a longer interview from 2000 by Mie Augier and Kristian Kreiner.

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Management Theory, Recommended Reading, Strategic Management, Theory of the Firm.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. march on march «  |  12 October 2006 at 6:30 pm

    […] I am grateful to Peter Klein today for linking to this HBR interview with the great Jim March. I didn’t realize that March was such a funny fellow. The interview is filled with quotable lines from March. Here are a few of my favorite (but please read the whole thing): You liked to begin your classes at Stanford each year saying, “I am not now, nor have I ever been, relevant.” What did you mean by that? […]

  • 2. sozlog » Blog Archive » March über March  |  15 October 2006 at 4:59 pm

    […] Im Harvard Business Review ist ein Interview mit Stanford Professor James March erschienen. I am grateful to Peter Klein at organizations and markets and to Brayden King at orgtheory for forwarding the message.     […]

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