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

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March, J. G., & Augier, M. (2004). James March on Education, Leadership, and Don Quixote: Introduction and Interview. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 3, 169-177.

Quixote reminds us that if we trust only when trust is warranted, love only when love is returned, learn only when learning is valuable, we abandon an essential feature of our humanness. –James March

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 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.

In 1970, March came to Stanford University where he is currently professor emeritus in business, political science, sociology, and education. In addition to his professional books and articles, March is also the author of six books of poetry. While it is impossible to cover all his contributions in this introduction, I will focus on some of the central ideas in his early years and his contributions to organization theory and his most recent research on leadership, education, and the relevance of Don Quixote to management learning, elaborated in the interview that follows.

March’s research has spanned 5 decades and (at least) as many disciplines, centering on questions relating to organization theory, learning, and human behavior (in organizations and elsewhere). The most consistent theme in his work–one that runs through the entire publication list–is the study of organizations. And while we can’t easily classify him as a "sociologist," "psychologist," "political scientist," or "economist," there can be no question of his greatness as an organization theorist. For example, he was a coauthor of perhaps the first seminal contributions to the field (March & Simon, 1993/1958; Cyert & March, 1992/1963) as well as the first editor of the Handbook of Organizations (March, 1965). And many of his early contributions stand out for their embrace of several disciplines. Starting off in political science and then moving through several disciplinary domains such as management theory, psychology, sociology, economics, organization and institutional theory, March’s academic career has been focused on understanding and analyzing human decision making and behavior. The basic thesis that he has pursued is that human action is neither optimal (or unboundedly rational) nor random, but nevertheless reasonably comprehensible (March, 1978, 1994, 1999). The ideas that were developed to understand human behavior in organizations in March’s early work in the analysis of how people deal with an uncertain and ambiguous world included, among other things, the concepts of bounded rationality and satisficing (March & Simon, 1993/1958).

Despite its interdisciplinary character, economists often see A Behavioral Theory of the Firm as the work of an economist eager to reform economics (see, e.g., Day, 1964; Winter, 1964). Political scientists are likely to point to March’s training in political science and his general interest in issues such as power and democracy. Sociologists may see his work on rules and institutions as a foundation stone of the practice of modern sociological perspectives on organizations. In this way, modern divisions within current March scholars have their counterpart in splintered historical interpretation and difficulty with seeing March’s work in its entirety.(n1) His willingness also to engage seriously with more extreme views, such as postmodernism and social constructivism on the one side, and game theorists and simulation modeling on the other, shows him to be no knee-jerk moderate, since here, too, he finds things to appreciate.

However, the consistent theme in March’s work can been seen through the underlying vision that he holds about understanding human action in often complex situations. The early ideas and collaborations led him into more careful studies of decision making and to his work on the behavioral theory of the firm (Cyert & March, 1992/1963), an attempt to provide a set of concepts that could be used to understand actual decision making in firms. March sees the firm as an adaptive political coalition (March, 1962; Cyert & March, 1992/1963), thus as confronting internal conflicts of interest: "Since the existence of unresolved conflict is a conspicuous feature of organizations, it is exceedingly difficult to construct a useful positive theory of organizational decision making if we insist on internal goal consistency. As a result, recent theories of organizational objectives describe goals as the result of a continuous bargaining-learning process. Such a process will not necessarily produce consistent goals" (Cyert & March, 1992/1963: 28). Another insight from the behavioral theory of the firm is the idea of the firm as an adaptive system, the experience of which is embodied in a number of "standard operating procedures" (routines), procedures for solutions to problems that the firm in the past has managed to solve. As time passes and experience changes, the firm’s routines change through processes of organizational search and learning. As a result, the firm is seen not as a static entity, but as a system of slack, search, and rules that changes over time in response to experience, as that experience is interpreted in terms of the relation between performance and aspirations. Elements of this view of the firm can now be found in modern developments, such as transaction cost economics (Williamson, 1985, 1996) and evolutionary theory (Nelson & Winter, 1982).

The Behavioral Theory of the Firm was an attempt to understand how individuals make decisions and behave in the real world. Like classical economists, March sees action as involving statements, or "guesses," about future consequences of actions as well as preferences for those actions (March, 1978, 1994). However, he believes that neoclassical orthodoxy gives too little attention to the institutional and cognitive constraints on economic and organizational behavior and on individual decisions, and too little room for human mistakes, foolishness, the complications of limited attention and other results of bounded rationality, and the changing, endogenous nature of preferences.

March and his early coauthors thus proposed to include a more inclusive range of limitations on human knowledge and human computation that prevent organizations and individuals in the real world from behaving in ways that approximate the predictions of neoclassical theory. For example, decision makers are sometimes confronted by the need to optimize several, sometimes incommensurable, goals (Cyert & March, 1992/1963), goals that are unclear, changing, and to some degree endogenous (Cohen, March, & Olsen, 1972; March, 1978). Furthermore, instead of assuming a fixed set of alternatives among which a decision maker chooses, March postulated a process for generating search and alternatives and analyzing decision processes through the idea of aspiration levels (March & Simon, 1993/1958), a process that is regulated in part by variations in organizational slack (Cyert & March, 1992/1963).

The concept of rational action starts from the idea that individuals should not make systematic mistakes. Agents are not stupid; they learn from their mistakes and draw intelligent inferences about the future from what is happening around them. Although Herbert Simon was the first promoter of bounded rationality, and the early view was embedded in the work of Organizations (March & Simon, 1992/1958), the initial focus on methods for improving the behavior of boundedly rational agents subsequently changed (in particular in March’s work) to accommodating (and perhaps even expanding) the boundaries of rationality, rather than trying to fix them. This focus led March to develop themes (some of which are discussed below) such as foolishness, intelligences, adaptive aspirations, and search, and to address their relation to organizational behavior, and their relation to an emphasis on learning.

Individuals and organizations often rely on routines or rules of thumb learned from experience or from others, as opposed to seeking to calculate the consequences of alternatives. This idea was central to March’s later work on institutional and political theory (March & Olsen, 1989, 1995). Here, institutions and organizations are viewed as fundamentally social in nature, embedded in the larger institutional and historical context of which they are part, and vital to the functioning of a political system. Like the more general work, their work on political institutions emphasizes the inefficiency of history, the ways in which the meander of history is path-dependent, and the ways in which action stems from social identities as much as from incentives. The notion that rules are central is brought to the fore through an emphasis on action as stemming not from a calculation of consequences but from matching a situation to rules of behavior associated with an identity or an organizational code. This focus on rule-and identity-driven behavior leads naturally to a concern with the ways in which rules change over time. In recent work with Martin Schulz and Xueguang Zhou, March has explored the development of rules through a quantitative study of rule change over an extended period of time (March, Schulz, & Zhou, 2000).

As March mentions in the following interview, a key theme in his later work (and a theme underlying his recent movie on leadership) is examining the problems of achieving a balance between exploration and exploitation (see, in particular, March, 1991, 1996a). Exploiting existing capabilities is full of rewards in the short run, but doesn’t prepare people for changes in technologies, capabilities, desires, tastes, and identities. For such preparation, exploration is necessary. Exploration involves searching for things that might come to be known, experimenting with doing things that are not warranted by experience or expectations. In all areas (in research as well as in life) we need both sides; illustrating, perhaps, a variation of Milan Kundera’s discussion of the ambiguous issue of the lightness-weight opposition, the combination of which is the source of numerous contradictions and difficulties; yet also the essence of being (Kundera, 1984).

Thus, March advocates a "technology of foolishness" (1971) and advises us to engineer choice in such a way as to strike for a balance between exploration and exploitation (1991,1996a), avoiding the dynamic traps of learning that lead to imbalance (Levinthal & March, 1993). He also has examined the determinants of risk-taking behavior, particularly the ways in which risk taking is a situational, rather than trait, phenomenon and the effects of adaptive aspirations, learning, and competition on risk taking (March, 1988a,b, 1991, 1996a; March & Shapira, 1987, 1992).

Whereas most of March’s work has been descriptive, rather than prescriptive (or in other words, emphasizing the way things actually happen rather than how they ought to happen; see March 1994), his recent work on Don Quixote’s ideas incorporates ideas that are more normative. However, going back to at least the ideas in "Technology of Foolishness" (March, 1971), this line of thought can be seen as a continuation of the themes he has elaborated throughout his work and must be understood against the background of his whole, integrated work. As March says, "We live in a consequentialist world. We are always justifying things by their consequences. But many of the more important human actions are significant precisely because they are not justified by their consequences…. Any religion that can be justified is hardly a religion" (1996b:2). Thus, follows the basic lesson from Don Quixote: "For a knight errant to make himself crazy for a reason merits neither credit nor thanks–the point is to be foolish without justification."

So what does this have to do with leadership? In March’s most recent academic venture–a movie produced with filmmaker Steven Schecter on this theme, titled Passion and Discipline: Don Quixote’s Lessons for LeadershipMarch provides an intellectually stimulating interpretation of the contemporary meaning of Don Quixote, using interviews with modern leaders, wine drinking in Spain, and numerous episodes drawn from the novel to demonstrate the significance of joy, commitment, and imagination.(n2)

In keeping with this message, March, sees teaching "as a calling of faith, not a consequential act." As elaborated in the interview below, Don Quixote’s basic message remains important to teachers, leaders, and the rest of us. As March says, "Quixote reminds us that if we trust only when trust is warranted, love only when love is returned, learn only when learning is valuable, we abandon an essential feature of our humanness." I spoke with Professor March in his office, January 9, 2003:

The purpose of this journal is to discuss education and leadership. Do you have any wise thoughts on these matters?

I leave wisdom to others. I think of myself simply as a teacher. That’s not a deep statement–it’s just what I am. I’m also, in the same way, a researcher. Those two go together. I don’t think either is subordinated to the other. Over the years I’ve been interested in how to teach things. The book that Charlie Lave and I wrote on models (Lave & March, 1975) was a teaching book, though I think it had some twists in it that have been useful in research. It was a book designed to teach how to play with models. It grew out of a grand educational experiment, which was a course to teach modeling to freshman, first-year students. Over the years I’ve taught a fair number of different kinds of courses. The leadership course is an example. I started out trying to use some of the standard leadership material from social science, found that that was not really satisfactory, then tried to step back and identify a few central issues of leadership in organizations.

One of these is leadership appreciation. Ultimately, leaders are evaluated in terms of whether they have done good, that is, whether their actions have contributed to improving the human estate. Contributing constructively to the social and political process by which leadership reputations are shaped involves understanding the ways evaluations of leaders are formed and how they might be made more meaningful. How do we come to believe that a leader has succeeded or failed? That one leader is better than another? How should we? What should we value in leadership and in individuals who are leaders? What are the ethics and aesthetics of leadership? What makes it beautiful or just? How can we attach sublime evaluative meaning to the mundane features of organizational life?

Another issue is what I call cleverness, innocence, and virtue. Commentators on leadership are ambivalent about sophistication and cleverness. On the one hand, leaders are often portrayed as astute manipulators of resources and people, praised for their use of superior knowledge and adroitness. They are frequently described as intelligently devious, secretive. We honor their superior abilities to outsmart others. On the other hand, leaders are often pictured not as sophisticated in the usual sense but as possessing an elemental innocence that overcomes the fatuous convolutions of clever people and goes instinctively to the essentials. This capability for simplification is associated not with education, intelligence, and propriety but with an ability to connect, in some uncomplicated way, to the fundamentals of life. In this spirit, leaders are often praised for their naivete and openness, and for their ability to use honesty as a basis for inspiring and extending trust. What is the place of cleverness, innocence, intelligence, and ignorance in descriptions of, or prescriptions for, leadership?

A third issue involves genius, heresy, and madness. Great leaders are often portrayed as geniuses. They transform organizations through their imagination, creativity, insight, and will. These descriptions of great leaders seem, however, to portray greatness as being associated with heresy, thus to be at variance with the needs of organizations for safer, more reliable behavior. Though heresy sometimes proves, retrospectively, to be the basis for desirable change, most bold new ideas are foolish and properly ignored. They are more likely to destroy an organization than to lead it to new heights of achievement. Thus, great leaders are characteristically heretics who are associated with a transformation of orthodoxy, but most heretics would be disasters as leaders. What is the relation between genius and madness? How do we recognize great leaders among the crazies? How do we nurture genius if we cannot recognize it?

A fourth issue is what I called pleasures of the process. Leadership and leaders are generally justified and understood in instrumental terms. Leaders evaluate themselves, are evaluated, and are (to some extent) compensated in terms of their contributions to organizational outcomes. At the same time, it is frequently noted that there are pleasures associated with the processes of leadership: the glories of position, the joys of commitment, the excitements of influence, the exhilaration of conflict and danger. These pleasures are, to a substantial extent, independent of their outcomes. As a consequence, understanding leadership often involves recognizing the ways in which the pleasures of the process fit into the calculus of leadership and how they ought to do so. What are the major pleasures of being a leader? How do they affect recruitment into leader roles and behavior within them? How do they affect the way we think about leadership?

And finally, there is the question of the relations among great actions, great visions, and great expectations. Within a consequential logic, leaders need to have expectations of great consequences to justify the great commitments demanded of them. They need to believe they can make a difference. We need to ask whether this is an adequate description of leadership behavior or an adequate moral foundation for it. In particular, we need to examine the implications of justifying great actions by great hopes in a world in which causality is obscure and effectiveness problematic. Within an ethic of consequentiality, how do we sustain commitment in the face of adverse or ambiguous outcomes? How do an organization and a society maintain illusions of efficacy among its leaders? What are the consequences? Are there alternatives?

Those are the kinds of issues that it seems to me you have to address if you are going to talk about leadership. They are not the only important issues, but they are representative of a larger class. And they turn out to be mostly dilemmas of one sort of another. They involve fairly deep questions about "the nature of trust" and "the nature of love" and things of that sort. So you can’t really talk about them as though they are unique to the chief executive’s office. All the practical problems of organizing meetings, giving orders or whatever, are important. Leadership involves plumbing as well as poetry. But questions such as these are fundamental to being a leader or understanding leadership…. So, if you want to teach leadership, you ask, where are these discussed? And for the most part, that turned out to be great literature, such as Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace ; William Shakespeare’s Othello, and Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote. When the course was taught, of course, I used to bring in various aspects of social science. Social science has some important things to say about such things. But the key dilemmas of leadership are addressed rather well, or rather better, in great literature than they are in most books on "leadership."

So that takes you from models in social science to the relevance of Don Quixote rather fast … as themes, many would see them as quite opposite and belonging to different sides of the great divide of rationality.

Well, they are quite different I suppose in some respects. But they are both focused on getting across some basic ideas about what we’re doing as teachers. Actually, of course, a course on models and a course on Quixote are quite similar in at least one sense. Both are essentially art courses.

How did you become interested in the education side … is research always educational?

For me those are so intimately tied that I can’t pull them apart. Some of the best ways of trying to develop your ideas is by trying to teach them. One of the best places to find new ideas is in the course of teaching. I said I was a teacher and that is fundamental. I don’t think I ever decided to become a teacher in a meaningful sense. I just discovered I was. And research was much the same. Many people see teaching and research as contenders for time and energy–that teaching takes away time from research and vice versa. I never saw it that way.

You also wrote that "teaching is a calling and an act of faith not a consequential act" (and "research is a testament").

Yes, and I think that’s right. I try to be a good teacher and I try to be a good researcher but if you ask me why I am either, my rationalizations would be invented. It is simply what I am.

What do you see as the major issues in education, leadership, and management?

Well … I would not claim that I know the major issues of anything. As for education, I think all teaching is contextual in the sense that you are always dealing with a particular student or a group of students who are at a particular place and you are trying to move them to a slightly different place. You will teach different things and you will say different things to different students at different times. Just as you would say different things to your children at different times.

I’ve spent a lot of my time over the last few decades talking about foolishness and the importance of developing goals. That’s because the students that I face most of the time are overtrained in rationality. If I were dealing with students who were overtrained in foolishness, I would teach them rationality. You teach people to work who are lazy and you teach people to be lazy when they are workaholics. That’s what a teacher does.

You say that teaching is a matter of balancing exploration and exploitation …

Yes, and avoiding a competency trap. If you get to be too good at something you should consider taking off in another direction. You can make the other argument; you can certainly argue that you should push a person as hard as you can in the direction in which they have already developed talents. But I’m inclined most of the time to encourage tennis players to play football and football players to play basketball even though I admire people who become true professionals, who know how to do what they are supposed to do and do it right–with precision and beauty. Exploration involves being an amateur for a while, but only as a step on the way to being a professional.

What changes do you see in management education over the years?

In this country (which is not the only country in the world), management and management education really grew out of engineering. The first professional managers were army engineers who were hired to run railroads. Engineering training and management training were really the same. In the United States, business schools are a phenomenon of the last 100 years at most. The Harvard Business School started in 1908, I believe. The Stanford Graduate School of Business started in the 1920s. The content and academic standing of management education changed after the second world war. Prior to that time, a fair number of business school teachers were not researchers; they were experienced business people. Partly as a result of that (but also for other reasons), the academic standing of business schools was low. As a result of the changes in business schools that took place mostly in the 1960s and 1970s, they now have more significant academic standing.

One of the questions that we face now in business education is, to what extent should we encourage researchers and students to work with practice–corporate involvement and case studies?

I have a simple picture of university education. I think what you do is get the brightest, smartest, most discipline-trained people you can get and you tell them to teach what they think is important and interesting. And the curriculum consists of the collection that turns out as a result of that. My sense is that different good teachers use different methods. Some of them use cases, some of them use models, some use field work, some use equations. And the good ones are scattered all over that map. And any time you try to make a principle of doing one or the other, you are almost certainly wrong. In my "dream business school" there would be a collection of good scholars, and they would be the teachers, and what they taught would be the curriculum. Whatever that would be. If they are really teachers, they would want to teach what they genuinely thought these students should have.

You have also pointed to the difficulties in explaining what constitutes good teaching. Teaching, you say, is "part of the process not the process. … If you want to sail from Manila to Acapulco, you aim for Portland. Sailing is an activity in which you do not aim for where you want to go–there are currents, winds, etc."

Yes, that’s another and maybe more poetic way of saying what I said before about context. The most you can do with students is to move them a little bit and direct them a little bit. If you are teaching statistics you have to teach the central limit theorem and how to work with it … that’s a fairly straightforward thing to teach, though it’s clear that some teachers are much better at it than others. But if you’re trying to teach people how to think about management or leadership, that’s not nearly such a straightforward process. What you’re trying to do is to find a way to get them to think about the issues of life that carry over into management.

You’ve sometimes said that leadership is a combination of poetry and plumbing. Does that mean you should teach both?

Yes, I think so, though you should also recognize that we know more things to teach with respect to the plumbing than the poetry. You should teach how to keep the toilets working, how to keep the system functioning, accounting, marketing, production–all these things. Because without those, nothing happens. But then you also need to teach how you think about these larger issues. Those are both honorable kinds of teaching. I think I’ve done both kinds. And any reasonable school should have a mix.

So, if you were in Europe, your movie would have been pure rational choice theory?

If I take your premises as given (Europe is a much more complicated place but on average nonrational, less consequential thinking is more encouraged there) I would certainly say that there are places where I am less likely to give a talk about Don Quixote, than to give a talk about learning or risk and risk analysis.

So taking parts of your work on, say, foolishness and garbage cans and treating that as representative of your thinking is probably misleading? Some might get the sense from seeing the movie that you are really opposed to all ideas of consequential thinking.

The issue is one of balance. It is inconceivable that we would abandon the careful consideration of consequences in action. But such a vision needs to be balanced with one that emphasizes acting in the name of an identity. In the United States, we teach the importance of pursuing success and of having realistic expectations. One of the lessons from Don Quixote is that he was not successful (in the conventional sense of the term); nor did he have realistic expectations. But he learned from failure, and he was persistent because he knew who he was. This kind of self-knowledge can serve modern leadership.

Can you explain a bit about your movie and how the idea grew out of your class?

Well, the class I taught was popular and some people at the Stanford Business School, in particular Joel Podolny and David Kreps, thought it would be good to do something to continue that class. And they thought it would be good to make a movie. I didn’t know what they had in mind, but my initial reaction was that I didn’t want to do a movie because I didn’t want to make a film of my lectures; and the ideas I tried to communicate in the course didn’t seem to me to be very visual. Translating ideas into some kind of visual images can be difficult and there was no obvious way to do that. But they recruited Steve [Steve Schecter], and we decided to try it.(n3) After considering various other alternatives, we decided to focus on Quixote.

So was it your idea to focus on Quixote and not other parts of the course, say, Tolstoy?

Yes, … the business school was very open to what this might be and when Steve and I talked we decided fairly early that we couldn’t do everything. We did talk a little bit about Tolstoy, partly because Steve speaks Russian. But I thought that the issues that Quixote addresses are probably the ones that were more manageable.

How do we teach and encourage the balance between passion and discipline?

The most you can do in education as well as in raising children is to kick the ball in some direction; you can’t really control the story so if you believe that the current teachings are too rational, then you push as hard as you can toward foolishness and exploration. If you think the current teachings are too foolish, then you kick as hard as you can toward exploitation and rationality. Most of the time, if you teach in a business school, students are under considerable pressure to be efficient, to be rational, so you try to push them as hard as you can in the other direction. And if the balance changes, you change the focus, try to emphasize discipline and order. Both passion and discipline are elements of being a good teacher, as well as a good leader. You can’t really achieve a stable balance; Sisyphus is alive and well!

In the movie, we emphasize three major ideas that can be used to pursue a balance. Together, for Don Quixote, they produce a world of pleasure and beauty and meaning. The first idea is imagination. Imagination is like dreams; it constitutes the vision and the ability to refuse to accept the constraints of reality. Our vision helps us to accomplish wondrous things that would not be deemed possible in a "rational" world. Martin Luther King had a dream. The inventors of modern airplanes were using imagination. Imagination is vital to innovation, for innovation relies on a willingness to deviate from conventions and to persist in deviance. The second idea is commitment, and willingness to act without regard for consequences. This commitment allows us to keep trying, keep pursuing, even in the face of disappointment–provided the commitment is based on a sense of self, not on expectations of good consequences. We persist in doing things because we’re passionate about them; because they fulfill our identities. We discipline ourselves through a sense of who we are, rather than through incentives. The third issue is joy. In leadership (and life), we tend to think of joy in terms of victory and success. But leadership and education (and life) cannot depend on the joys of success and victory only. Joy is having a sense of humor; having a playful enthusiasm that transforms acts of leadership and education into acts of pleasure. The basic message from Don Quixote is to encourage both passion and discipline, to know who we are, and live consistent with who we are. He says, " Yo se quien soy "–"I know who I am."

So there are no wise implications or directions for the "design" of the business education?

I don’t believe in wise implications for anything but it is plausible to think of universities and business schools as preeminently the teachers of exploitation. They make people better on average, more reliable, less playful, more coherent and consistent, using conventional knowledge–all good things. And I think you might well conclude that that is the comparative advantage of universities and business schools, leaving other institutions to attend to sustaining the exploration side of the balance. On the other hand, you might conclude that since this is the natural instinct and capability of business schools and the individual students in them, then you as an individual teacher ought to push them a little bit the other way. Since I’ve never been able to choose between these two possibilities, I’ve gone through life happily teaching some courses that emphasize the exploitation of what we already know and teach other courses that emphasize imagining what we might come to know. I think that’s called hedging the bets.

What role do educational administrators have in all this?

An administrator’s role with an organization is like a teacher’s role with a student and a teacher’s role with an administrator. We are all trying to keep the world from becoming trapped in either excessive exploitation or excessive exploration. In a world in which most of the pressure is for efficiency and rationality, an administrator has to help sustain experimentation. In a world of craziness, an administrator has to sustain order. An administrator glorifies conventions while quietly stimulating violations of them, glorifies imagination while quietly keeping the toilets working.

Thank you very much for your time.

Address all correspondence to Mie Augier, Stanford University, 70 Cubberley, Stanford, CA 94305-3096.

I am grateful to Allen Bluedorn and two anonymous reviewers for comments and suggestions for improvement; and, in particular, to James G. March for his time and patience with my interests and questions. The research for this article has been supported by the Spencer Foundation and by the Copenhagen Business School.

(n1) A conference held in March’s honor in Lucca, 2002, demonstrated the fascinating intellectual family tree, and many of his students contributed papers ranging from game theory to garbage cans, to simulation modeling and institutionalism. Some of these papers are published in a special issue of Industrial and Corporate Change, August, 2003.

(n2) The movie, Passion and Discipline, can be purchased through Films for the Humanities and Sciences, www.films.com.

(n3) Steven Schecter was the filmmaker collaborating with James March in producing the movie. More information about Steven can be found at: http://schecterfilms.com/.

SELECTED WORK OF JAMES G. MARCH

March, J. G. 1953. Autonomy as a factor in group organization: A study in politics. PhD Dissertation. New York: NY: Arno Press. (Original published 1980.)

Cyert, R., & March, J. G. 1992. A behavioral theory of the firm, (2nd Ed.). Oxford, England: Blackwell. (Original published 1963.)

March, J. G. 1962. The business firm as a political coalition. Journal of Politics, 24: 662-678.

March, J. G. (Ed.). 1965. Handbook of organizations. Chicago, IL: Rand McNally, 1965.

March, J. G. 1971. The technology of foolishness. In J. G. March, (Ed.), Decisions and organizations. 253-265. New York, NY: Basil Blackwell.

March, J. G. 1978. Bounded rationality, ambiguity and the engineering of choice. Bell Journal of Economics, 9: 578-608.

March, J. G. (Ed.). 1988a. Decisions and organizations. New York, NY: Basil Blackwell.

March, J. G. 1988b. Variable risk preferences and adaptive aspirations. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 9: 5-24.

March, J. G. 1991. Exploration and exploitation in organizational learning. Organization Science, 2: 71-87.

March, J. G. 1994. A primer on decision-making. New York, NY: Free Press.

March, J. G. 1995. The future, disposable organizations and the rigidities of imagination. Organization, 2: 427-440.

March, J. G. 1996a. Continuity and change in theories of organizational action. Administrative Science Quarterly, 41: 278287.

March, J. G. 1996b. A scholar’s quest. Stanford Graduate School of Business Magazine.

March, J. G. 1999. The pursuit of intelligence in organizations. Oxford, England: Blackwell.

March, J. G., & Cohen, M. 1974. Leadership and ambiguity (2nd Ed.). Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

March, J. G., & Shapira, Z. 1987. Managerial perspectives on risk and risk-taking. Management Science, 33: 1404-1418.

March, J. G., & Olsen, J. 1989. Rediscovering institutions: The organizational basis of politics. New York, NY: Free Press.

March, J. G., & Shapira, Z. 1992. Variable risk preferences and the focus of attention. Psychological Review, 99: 172-183.

March, J. G., & Olsen, J. P. 1976. Ambiguity and choice in organizations. Bergen, Norway: Universitetsforlaget.

March, J. G., & Olsen, J. 1995. Democratic governance. New York, NY: Free Press.

March, J. G., Schulz, M., & Zhou, X. 2000. The dynamics of rules: Change in written organizational codes. Stanford, CA: Stanford

March, J. G., & Simon, H. A. 1993. Organizations (2nd Ed.). Oxford, England: Blackwell. (Original published 1958.)

OTHER WORKS CITED

Cohen, M. D., March, J. G., & Olsen, J. P. 1972. A garbage can model of organizational choice. Administrative Science Quarterly, 17: 1-25.

Day, R. H. 1964, July. Review of "A Behavioral Theory of the Firm." Econometrica, 32(3): 461-465.

Kundera, M. 1984. The unbearable lightness of being. New York, NY: Perennial Classics.

Lave, C. A., & March, J. G. 1975. An introduction to models in the social sciences. New York, NY: Harper and Row.

Levinthal, D. A., & March, J. G. 1993. The myopia of learning. Strategic Management Journal, 14: 95-112.

Nelson, R., & Winter, S. 1982. An evolutionary theory of economic change. Cambridge, MA: Bellknap Press.

Williamson, O. E. 1985. The economic institutions of capitalism. New York, NY: Free Press.

Williamson, O. E. 1996. Transaction cost economics and the Carnegie connection. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 31: 149-155.

Winter, S. 1964. Review of "A Behavioral Theory of the Firm." American Economic Review, 54 (2:1): 144-148.

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