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  • Writer's pictureMaciej Workiewicz

Mapping James G. March's ideas

Making sense of a vast set of literature is always a challenging, but ultimately rewarding experience. It helps to put often disjoint work into perspective and find hidden connections and tensions that normally escape our attention. It is an especially illuminating exercise when the subject of an analysis is someone life's work and few scholars can be so engaging in their work as James G. March. In preparation for an interview with Professor March, together with my friend Jiyang Dong, we read and summarized as many books and papers by James March as we could find. Then we went one step further and made two maps of the literature to guide us through the vast literature.

I learned the technique of mapping literature in the first year of my PhD during the course taught by Gabriel Szulanski. He explained the technique to us and I have been using it ever since. Maps are to some extent personal, as they reflect the creator's interpretation of the subject, which may not always be what the author of the mapped work intended. Yet, I think someone's maps may still be helpful as a road map to understanding a given subject.

The links in this paragraph will take you to two maps. The Literature Map assigns books and papers by James March to a "Circle of Choice" framework (by James March and Johan Olsen). The Theory Map is an interpretation of the grand theory that we have stitched together from all the ideas published over the years. Finally, the Bibliography list gives you the titles of the publications corresponding to the numbers on the Theory Map.

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