In memoriam: James G. March (1928-2018)

By Nils Brunsson

from Organization Studies Vol 40, Issue 2, 2019

One of the founders of modern studies of organizations and its leading scholar, Professor James G. March passed away on 27 September 2018 at the age of 90. He was the father of such concepts and ideas as organizational slack, standard operating procedures, organizational learning, sequential attention to goals, problemistic search, limitation of attention, the firm as a political coalition, the technology of foolishness, and exploration and exploitation – concepts and ideas that are currently standard in the field and often used without reference to their creator.

James March was a social scientist with a broad agenda; he made key contributions not only to the field of organization studies, but also to other disciplines and to social science in general. His significance for the field of organization studies cannot be overestimated. James March has left us with an extremely rich treasure of ideas, concepts, arguments and theories. To summarize his contributions is impossible in the format of a short article; a book would be needed. My goal is to remind the reader about Jim’s early path-breaking, now classic ideas about decision making, but even within this restricted area, I am forced to make a narrow selection.