March received his B.A. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1945 in political science. He received his M.A. in 1950 and Ph.D. in 1953 from Yale University, both in political science.
James March is an honorary doctor at numerous universities:Copenhagen Business School (then: Copenhagen School of Economics), 1978
Hanken School of Economics (Helsinki), 1979
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 1980
University of Bergen, 1980; (Economics)
Uppsala University, 1987; (EkDhc, Faculty of Social Sciences)
Helsinki School of Economics, 1991
Dublin City University, 1994; (Economics)
Göteborg University, 1998
University of Poitiers, 2001
University of Trento, 2000
University of Southern Denmark, 2003
Budapest University of Economics, 2003
York University (Toronto), 2007
Hautes Etudes Commerciales (HEC Paris), 2007
Ramon Llull University (Barcelona), 2007
Lappeenranta (Finland) University of Technology, 2008
Stockholm (Sweden) Stockholm School of Economics, 2009
From 1953 to 1964, he has served on the faculties of the Carnegie Institute of Technology as a Senior Research Fellow and Assistant Professor, and later Professor of Industrial Administration and Psychology.
From 1964 to 1970, March University of California, Irvine as Professor of Psychology and Sociology, and was Dean of the School of Social Sciences from 1964-1969.
In 1970 March moved to Stanford University where he remains as Professor Emeritus. During his time at Stanford, he has held several titles including Professor of Political Science and Sociology, David Jacks Professor of Higher Education (1970-1978), Professor of Management (1978-1979), Fred H. Merrill Professor of Management (1979-1992), Jack Steele Parker Professor of International Management (1992–present). He has also served as a Senior Fellow at Hoover Institution (1978-1987) and the director of the Scandinavian Consortium for Organizational Research (Scancor)(1989-1999).
He has been elected to the National Academy of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Education, and has been a member of the National Science Board. He is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.
He has received numerous teaching awards such as the Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1995 from Stanford University. He interacts and communicates in many different forms as books, articles, interactive seminars, films and poetry.
March is highly respected for his broad theoretical perspective which combined theories from psychology and other behavioural sciences. As a core member of the Carnegie School, he collaborated with the cognitive psychologist Herbert A. Simon on several works on organization theory.
March is also known for his seminal work on the behavioural perspective on the theory of the firm along with Richard Cyert (1963).
In 1972, March worked together with Johan Olsen and Michael D. Cohen on the systemic-anarchic perspective of organizational decision making known as the Garbage Can Model.
The scope of his academic work is broad, but focused on understanding how decisions happen in individuals, groups, organizations, companies and society. He explores factors that influences decision making, such as risk orientation, leadership and the ambiguity of the present and the past; politics and vested interests by stakeholders; the challenges of giving and receiving advice; the challenges of organizational and individual learning and the challenges of balancing exploration and exploitation in organizations.
James March is the father of four children and is a grandfather.