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James March on Education, Leadership, and Don Quixote: Introduction and Interview

Mie Augier
Academy of Management Learning & Education
Vol. 3, No. 2 (Jun., 2004), pp. 169-177
Published by: Academy of Management
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40214247
Page Count: 9
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James March on Education, Leadership, and Don Quixote: Introduction and Interview
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Abstract

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 or modern organization and management theory, initially through his coauthorship of the two classic books. Organizations (March & Simon, 1958) and A Behavioral Theory of the Firm (Cyert & March, 1963). March stayed at Carnegie until 1964 when he went to Irvine to become a professor of psychology and sociology and the dean of the School of Social Sciences at the University of California. There he began (with Michael Cohen) a study of leadership and ambiguity in the context of American college presidency (Cohen & March, 1974). This book discusses the loose coupling between decision-making problems and their solutions and gives reasons for leaders to encourage ambiguity, rather than prediction and control. The idea that choice is fundamentally ambiguous is a central theme to ideas about "garbage can decision processes" (Cohen, March, & Olsen, 1972) which also emphasizes the temporal sorting of problems and solutions. The general implications of such ideas were explored with Johan P. Olsen in the book Ambiguity and Choice in Organizations (1976), a collaboration that later led to two books exploring an institutional and organizational perspective on politics and governance.

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