James G. March (1928-2018)

Professor Emeritus, Organizational Behavior
Contact Info
JamesG.March (1928-2018)
Academic Area: 
Organizational Behavior


James G. March was a Professor Emeritus at Stanford University, where he’d been on the faculty since 1970. He held appointments in the Schools of Business and Education and in the Departments of Political Science and Sociology. Before that, he was on the faculty of the University of California, Irvine, and the Carnegie Institute of Technology. He received his B.A. degree from the University of Wisconsin and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale University. He leaves behind four children and 16 grandchildren.

He has received honorary doctorates and honorary professorships from several European and North American universities and has been elected to membership in the National Academy of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the National Academy of Public Administration, and the National Academy of Education, as well as several overseas academies.

He received the Wilbur Cross Medal from Yale University in 1968, the Academy of Management Award for Scholarly Contributions to Management in 1984, the Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching from Stanford University in 1995, the John Gaus Award from the American Political Science Association in 1997, the Distinguished Scholar Award from the Academy of Management in 1999, the Viipuri Award from the Viipuri Society in 2004, the Aaron Wildavsky Award from the Public Policy Society in 2004, the Herbert Simon Award from Laslo Raik College (Budapest) in 2005 and the Society for Progress Medal from INSEAD in 2016. In 1995 he was made a Knight First Class in the Royal Norwegian (Olav V) Order of Merit, and in 1999 he was made a Commander of the Order of the Lion of Finland.

He was a member of the National Science Board (1969-1974) and the National Council on Educational Research (1975-1978), as well as a member or chair of a number of committees for the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences and the Social Science Research Council. From 1984 to 1994 he was a member, and from 1991 to 1993 Chair, of the Board of Trustees of the Russell Sage Foundation. He had also been a member of the Board of Directors of Sun Hydraulics Corporation (1989-1992 and 1996-2000), the Scandinavian Consortium for Organizational Research (1988-1999), and Wally Industries (1996-2001). From 1994 to 2001 he was a member of the Board of the Citigroup Behavioral Sciences Research Council (Chair 1994 to 2000).

He was best known professionally for his writings on decision making and organizations, including Organizations, A Behavioral Theory of the Firm, Leadership and Ambiguity, Ambiguity and Choice in Organizations, Decisions and Organizations, Rediscovering Institutions, The Pursuit of Organizational Intelligence, Democratic Governance, A Primer on Decision Making, The Dynamics of Rules, Explorations in Organizations, On Leadership, and The Ambiguities of Experience.

He also wrote nine books of poetry and two films.

Academic Degrees

  • PhD, Yale University, 1953
  • MA, Yale University, 1950
  • BA, University of Wisconsin, 1949

Academic Appointments

  • At Stanford University since 1970, Emeritus since 1995
  • Professor of Political Science and Sociology, Stanford University, 1970-1995
  • Jack Steele Parker Professor of International Management, Stanford GSB, 1991-1995
  • Fred H. Merrill Professor of Management, Stanford University, 1979-1991
  • David Jacks Professor of Higher Education, Stanford University, 1970-1978
  • Professor of Psychology and Sociology and Dean, School of Social Sciences, UC Irvine, 1964-1970
  • Assistant Professor to Professor of Psychology and Industrial Administration, Carnegie Mellon University, 1953-1964

Awards and Honors

  • Society for Progress Medal Laureate, 2016
  • Herbert A. Simon Award, Budapest University of Economics, 2005
  • Aaron Wildavsky Enduring Contribution Award, American Political Science Association, 2004
  • Viipuri Prize, Viipuri School of Economics, 2004
  • Commander of the Order of the Lion, Finland, 1999
  • Distinguished Scholar Award, Academy of Management, 1999
  • John Gaus Award, American Political Science Association, 1997
  • Knight First Class, Royal Norwegian (Olav V) Order of Merit, 1995
  • Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching, Stanford University, 1995
  • Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal, Yale University, 1968


Journal Articles

James G. March (1928-2018), Robert I. Sutton. Organization Science. 1997, Vol. 8, Issue 6, Pages 697-706.


James G. March (1928-2018), Mie Augier Stanford University Press, 2011.
James G. March (1928-2018) Cornell University Press, 2010.
James G. March (1928-2018), Martin Schulz, Xueguang Zhou Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000.

Stanford Case Studies

Hyundai Motor Company | SM122
William Barnett, James March, Mooweon Rhee2003

Service to the Profession


  • Society for Progress, INSEAD
  • National Academy of Sciences
  • American Academy of Arts & Sciences
  • American Philosophical Society
  • National Academy of Education
  • Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

In the Media

The Economist, July 24, 2009
San Francisco Chronicle, June 29, 2001

Insights by Stanford Business

October 5, 2015
Innovative companies often see creativity dwindle over time.
February 19, 2014
A scholar discusses literature, power, and "the two most important things to know about innovation."
May 31, 2013
The survivors can both manage existing business lines and prepare for change.
May 31, 2012
Professor Emeritus James March takes a look at the lessons of Tolstoy’s War and Peace for leadership, examining the limitations of heroic visions of leaders that Tolstoy exposed.
May 1, 2003
Drawing on classical literature and contemporary film, Jim March creates a movie produced in Europe and America based on the idealism in Cervantes' novel.

School News

October 29, 2018
A revered yet humble teacher whose research profoundly impacted many disciplines, he found exquisite beauty in both math and poetry.