Jay W. Lorsch

American organizational theorist

Jay William Lorsch (born 1932) is an American organizational theorist and the Louis Kirstein Professor of Human Relations at the Harvard Business School, known for his contribution of contingency theory to the field of organizational behavior.


  • When a firm chooses to allocate its most valuable resources away from clients and to young stars, the economic consequences are real and visible.
  • I think a lot more decisions are made on serendipity than people think. Things come across their radar screens and they jump at them.
    • Jay W. Lorsch, quoted in: Peter Barge (2006), The Little Book of Big Decisions, p. 12
  • Most of the time when these things go public... private-equity firms want to get the hell out of there. They want to monetize their investment and get their guys off the board, because they don't want to be caught in a conflict of interest.
  • Because the activists usually cash out their holdings shortly after their demands are accepted or rejected, the question remains whether most of them are committed to companies’ future success. The risk is significant that their initiatives can weaken a company’s competitive position, to the detriment of long-term shareholders, and the high-leverage financing structures they often propose may put companies in jeopardy in the event of an economic downturn.

Organization and environment: Managing differentiation and integration, 1967


Paul R. Lawrence and Jay W. Lorsch, Organization and environment: Managing differentiation and integration (1967).

See here

Quotes about Jay W. Lorsch

  • Paul Lawrence and Jay Lorsch, pioneers in contingency theory of organizations, acknowledge that their notions are really an outgrowth of systems theory.
    • V. K. Narayanan, ‎Veekay Narayanan, ‎Nath Raghu (1993). Organization theory: a strategic approach. p. 96
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