James G. March

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James G. March (born 1928) is an American business theorists and professor emeritus in management, sociology, political science, and education at Stanford University. Widely recognized as a pioneer of organization and management theory, March coauthored the classic books Organizations and A Behavioral Theory of the Firm.


  • Unfortunately, the gains for imagination are not free. The protections for imagination are indiscriminate. They shield bad ideas as well as good ones—and there are many more of the former than the latter. Most fantasies lead us astray, and most of the consequences of imagination for individuals and individual organizations are disastrous. Most deviants end up on the scrap pile of failed mutations, not as heroes of organizational transformation... There is, as a result, much that can be viewed as unjust in a system that induces imagination among individuals and individual organizations in order to allow a larger system to choose among alternative experiments. By glorifying imagination, we entice the innocent into unwitting self-destruction (or if you prefer, altruism)
    • March cited in: Robert I. Sutton (2002) Weird Ideas That Work: 11 1/2 Practices for Promoting, Managing, and Sustaining Innovation. p. 192
  • They [human beings] are unwilling to gamble that God made those people who are skilled at rational argumentation uniquely virtuous. They protect themselves and others from cleverness by obscuring their preferences.
    • Jame G. March "How Decisions Happen in Organizations"; Human-Computer Interaction, 1991, Volume 6 pp. 95-117

Ideas as Art (2006)[edit]

James G. March & Diane Coutou "Ideas as Art". Harvard Business Review 84 (2006): p. 83-89
  • If a manager asks an academic consultant what to do and that consultant answers, then the consultant should be fired. No academic has the experience to know the context of a managerial problem well enough to give specific advice about a specific situation.
    • On academic consultants.
  • No organization works if the toilets don't work, but I don't believe that finding solutions to business problems is my job.
    • On artistic sensibility.
  • … we sometimes find that such heresies have been the foundation for bold and necessary change, but heresy is usually just crazy. Most daring new ideas are foolish or dangerous and appropriately rejected or ignored. So while it may be true that great geniuses are usually heretics, heretics are rarely great geniuses.
    • On leadership and the relation between madness, heresy, and genius.
  • I am not now, nor I have ever been, relevant.
    • Said each year during the beginning of classes at Stanford.

About James G. March[edit]

According to a 2003 survey for Harvard Business Review conducted by Laurence Prusak and Thomas H. Davenport, March is second in prominence only to Peter Drucker.

External links[edit]

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