Charles J. McMillan, Professor of Strategic Management & International Business, is the author of nine books and monographs related to international business & strategic management, including the Japanese Industrial System, published in English, Japanese, Malaysian and Russian editions, and The Strategic Challenge: From Surfdom to Surfing in the Global Village. He has written and lectured extensively on globalization, Japanese science and technology policy, and Canadian innovation, and authored more than 90 technical articles and papers in such prestigious academic journals as McGill Law Review, Academy of Management Journal, Canadian Public Policy, California Management Review, Journal of Management History, and Journal of Knowledge Management, as well as in publications such as The New York Times, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, the Central Asia Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post and The Toronto Star.
Active in Public Affairs, he has served as Senior Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister of Canada, working on trade agreements, regional development, Pacific Rim strategies, energy policy, science and technology, and foreign investment legislation. He now consults widely to governments, multinationals, and international organizations around the world. From 1990-1995, Dr. McMillan served as a Board Member of Yamaichi (International) Canada Ltd, and advisor to Yamaichi International America in New York, and Yamaichi Securities Tokyo, and a Board Member of Boeing Canada, Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, and Chairman of Canada World Youth. He is the joint author (with George Stalk of Boston Consulting Group), Seizing the Continent: Opportunities for a North American Gateway, available from the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada. He was awarded the Queen’s Jubilee Medal in 2013.
Carton, G., McMillan, C. and Overall, J. (2018), "Strategic Capacities in US Universities – The Role of Business Schools as Institutional Builders", Problems and Perspectives in Management, 16(1), 186-198.Keywords
The global expansion of the higher education and professional faculties like business schools offers a case study in the strategic capabilities of universities and professional schools like business to build academic strength, reputation, and legitimacy. The expansion of business schools reflects novel strategies like ecosystems collaboration and network advantages, presenting new challenges for quality, relevance, and competitive threats from the consulting industry, corporate universities, MOOCs, and highly-specialized business schools. The paper concludes with recommendations for business education.
Bhandari, A. and McMillan, C. (2017), "Asset Resource Strategies – An Integrated Framework to Orchestrate Long Term Competitive Advantage", International Journal of Strategic Management, 17(2), 75-96.
The paper reviews the literature on the adoption and implementation (A&I) process of activity-based costing (ABC). The paper finds that the majority of the studies have tried to identify technical, behavioral, organizational and other contextual factors that result in the adoption and successful implementation of ABC. However, findings have been inconclusive and only found few specific factors for instance top management support, implementation training, non-accounting ownership and business size, to be associated with a successful process. Only few studies challenge the well-behaved adoption and implementation process assumed in the factor studies, as the process actually includes legitimization issues, power struggles among individuals and pressure from certain institutions. To advance the research within the adoption & implementation of ABC, a future research agenda is proposed.This includes a request for research within new geographical regions and organizational sizes, a demand for a new research framework in contingency-theory related factor studies and a call for research within alternative management accounting research perspectives to illustrate the complexity of the adoption & implementation process.
McMillan, C.J. and Overall, J. (2016), "Wicked Problems: Turning Strategic Management Upside Down", Journal of Business Strategy, 37(1), 34-43.Keywords
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to critique the existing decision-making models of organizational theory and the ability of strategic managers to address unconventional problems using these models. Strategic management models presume reasonable stability in the task environment and the organizational design features. However, complex problems, or wicked problems, are prolific in a global world. They change profoundly the nature of strategic management, where management faces a deep paradox – an environment of unprecedented interdependence, yet unpredictable forces of chaos and volatility, a landscape of wicked problems. In this paper, the authors address wicked problems within the context of strategic management.
Design/methodology/approach – The authors review and critique the organizational theory literature, namely, microeconomics, bounded rationality, organizational failure and the theory of creative destruction within the context of wicked problems.
Findings – The authors find that the contemporary models of strategic management are incapable of assisting managers in addressing the reality of wicked problems. They argue that organizational pathologies rest in executive action: pursuit of goals and objectives with a false sense of causation, feedback filters that exaggerate good news and restrict bad news and actions that give only token measures to correct faulty design decisions and faulty decision processes, including more emphasis on vertical channels than horizontal task interdependencies.
Originality/value – The authors conclude that wicked problem-solving is by temperament and time horizon, a multilayered, multitasked, organizational challenge, and requires fundamentally different mindsets for design and performance systems for senior executives. The study of wicked problems requires a new corporate mindset, new collaborative models to address them and new corporate processes and executive training tools who increasingly have to address them. This research is a first step toward extending our understanding of how to address the world of wicked problems.
McMillan, C.J. (2016), "On Docility: A Research Note on Herbert Simon’s Social Learning Theory", Journal of Management History, 22(1), 91-114.
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to address the core concept of docility in Simon’s learning theories and elaborate docility as a missing link in organizational performance structures. In his book, Administrative Behavior, first published in 1947 with three subsequent editions, Herbert A. Simon introduced a new concept to the emerging field of organizational theory, docility.
Design/methodology/approach: In Administrative Behavior, Herbert A. Simon introduced to management and organization theorists the concept of docility. Simon adopted the concept and meaning from E.C. Tolman’s (1932) classic work, Purposive Behavior in Animals and Men, and his novel views on learning processes and key concepts like purpose (goals), thought processes (cognitive psychology) and cognitive maps. This paper elaborates on docility mechanisms and the implications for social learning in organizations.
Findings: This paper addresses this lacuna in the organizational literature, and the implications for current theories of organizations and organizational learning. Practical implications Docility is a tool to link individual learning with organizational learning in complex environments and changing technologies.
Originality/value: The paper traces origins of Simon’s docility and learning theories.
McMillan, C.J. (2016), "Old Wine in New Bottles: Docility, Attention Scarcity and Knowledge Management", Journal of Knowledge Management, 20(6), 1353-1372.Keywords
Purpose: This paper aims to address the nature of docility in organizations, its practical role in attention scarcity and knowledge diffusion in complex organizations and the management implications for organizational learning and innovation to improve knowledge management. Design/methodology/approach: This paper examines knowledge organizations from the perspective of human resource strategies, their role in information abundance and attention scarcity and techniques to enhance docility mechanisms at different levels of the organization to increase innovation and performance. Findings: This paper, in reviewing the organization literature on attention scarcity, addresses the shortage of studies linking the need for docility – the desire to learn from workers and the desire to teach – in personnel practices of knowledge firms, where intense social interaction, social feedback and social learning are the norms. Practical implications: Knowledge management – scanning, creation, coordination, interpreting, transfer and integration – may well be the basis of competitive advantage, based on human resource strategies to mobilize explicit and tacit knowledge via docility mechanisms, including mentoring, teamwork, coaching and deep collaboration. Originality/value: Decades ago, Herbert A. Simon introduced this new concept, docility, which is now central to knowledge organizations that face information abundance and attention scarcity. Knowledge organizations require tools of docility to align human resource strategies to both strategic management and operational functions to enhance teaching and learning in design structures that are time-constrained.
McMillan, C.J. and Overall, J. (2016), "Management Relevance in a Business School Setting: A Research Note on an Empirical Investigation", The International Journal of Management Education, 14(2), 187-197.
In this research note, we address wicked problems within the context of business schools. Our aim is to understand if business schools fully reflect the needs of business. To achieve this, we assess the mission, vision, and stated strategies of the top 200 global business schools to determine if the MBA curriculum addresses wicked problems. From our findings, we demonstrate that the MBA curriculum does not address the nature of wicked problems or provide the intellectual and interdisciplinary frameworks to educate managers on serious competitive issues in a global context. In addition to challenging many premises of the MBA curriculum, we outline several areas of opportunities to assist business schools in adapting to the evolving needs of business and organizational problem-solving.
McMillan, C.J. and Overall, J. (2016), "Crossing the Chasm and Over the Abyss: Perspectives on Organizational Failure", Academy of Management Perspectives, 31(4), 271-287 .Keywords
In this paper, we present an integrative perspective on organizational failure by conceptualizing three levels of failure—organizational learning processes (which can give rise to simple failures), organizational planning processes (which can give rise to complex failures), and strategic capacity for organizational agility (which can give rise to catastrophic failures)—as a Guttman-like model of escalating dysfunctions. Simple failures are the result of learning deficiencies stemming from single-loop decision making and weak learning competencies. Complex failures are caused by structural rigidities and intelligence pathologies. Catastrophic failures are a result of weak knowledge inclusiveness and weak organizational platforms, which occur from a downward spiral of events stemming from simple and complex failures. Areas for further study are suggested.
Li, X. and McMillan, C.J. (2015), "Impacts of Price Incentives, Costs and Management Awareness on Maize Supply in Two Regions of the USA", International Journal of Trade, Economics, and Finance, 6(5), 254-258.Keywords
This study analyzes the impacts of price incentives, costs and management awareness on maize supply in the North Central and the South regions of the United States. Diverting from previous studies, we convert Cobb-Douglas production functions to supply functions in the profit maximizing condition for two regions and use prices and costs to represent the incentives and management indices of farmers in our models. We examine the effects of prices and costs on the decision-making processes of farmers and the corresponding maize supply, where the models simultaneously consider climate and technology improvement elements in addition to price and cost elements. Given the background that climatic and socioeconomic conditions are different in the two regions, analyzing and understanding the regional impact divergence could have significant implications to the United States and the world in the context of securing the stability of the market price and food supply of the crop, as well as adapting to the progress of climate change. We found the South region in the short-term is more responsive to changes in maize prices than the North region, opposite from the results examined in the medium-term scenario and the long-term scenario, reflecting the differences in regional management awareness. While the changes in labor costs and machinery costs in the North region have larger impacts in all scenarios, changes in chemical fertilizer costs have larger impacts in the South region in all scenarios. All in all, further research should be conducted to ensure the stability of the long-term food security.
McMillan, C.J. and Overall, J. (2015), "Crossing the Chasm and Over the Abyss: Perspectives on Organizational Failure", Academy of Management Review, 31(4).
In this paper, we present an integrative perspective on organizational failure by conceptualizing three levels of failure-organizational learning processes (which can give rise to simple failures), organizational planning processes (which can give rise to complex failures), and strategic capacity for organizational agility (which can give rise to catastrophic failures)-as a Guttman-like model of escalating dysfunctions. Simple failures are the result of learning deficiencies stemming from single-loop decision making and weak learning competencies. Complex failures are caused by structural rigidities and intelligence pathologies. Catastrophic failures are a result of weak knowledge inclusiveness and weak organizational platforms, which occur from a downward spiral of events stemming from simple and complex failures. Areas for further study are suggested.
Li, X. and McMillan, C.J. (2014), "Corporate Strategy and the Weather: Towards a Corporate Sustainability Platform", Problems and Perspectives in Management, 12(2), 200-214.
The effect of weather and climate variation on complex manufacturing and the retail sector and their operations can be significant, unpredictable, and costly. This paper provides a novel conceptual framework for a sustainability platform for competitive advantage. It encompasses metrics of performance, business processes, and product and process innovation to encapsulate risk of weather conditions. A sustainable platform requires deep collaboration across the entire eco-system: the supply chain, the life cycle of production, processes, and managerial functions, and distribution end-points, including recycling and disposal. Sustainability platforms and their implications in practice are discussed.
Project Title Role Award Amount Year Awarded Granting Agency Project TitleComparative Healthcare Research RolePrincipal Investigator Award Amount$12,500.00 Year Awarded2006 Granting AgencyAsia Pacific Foundation