01 Jun 2007
James McKenney RememberedTopics:
HBS professor emeritus James L. McKenney,an expert in management information systems and the use of computer systems for teaching management, passed away on March 28in Belmont, Massachusetts. He was 77 years old.
Born and raised in Chicago, McKenney graduated from Purdue University in 1952 with a BS degree in mechanical engineering before receiving his Ph.D. from UCLA. Shortly thereafter, in 1960, McKenney was the first information systems expert appointed to the Harvard Business School faculty. He became a full professor in 1968 and was named the John G. McLean Professor of Business Administration in 1989. He retired from the active faculty in 1996.
McKenney introduced the first computer-based simulation exercise, the Business Game, to the required first-year MBA curriculum in the 1960s and later created the first online computing facility at HBS. His research focused on managing the implementation and growth of intelligent terminal communications systems, knowledge-based systems, and the design and management of private communications systems. The author or coauthor of several books, including Waves of Change: Business Evolution through Information Technology, McKenney also wrote numerous case studies, among them the first on airline-reservation systems and inventory management across the consumer-products supply chain. Active in all the School’s educational programs, he taught many courses on information and computer systems, control, environmental and nonprofit management, and production and operations management (POM). He was POM chairman from 1968 to 1972. In retirement, McKenney continued his research on management information systems; one project involved a longitudinal study of consumers and the grocery industry.
An avid fly fisherman, McKenney loved the outdoors. “His second home, in Montana, was part of a large working cattle ranch, and at times my father was actively involved in running it,” his son William recalled. “He was as much at ease working with cowboys on broken fences and going to rodeos as he was sitting on the boards of major companies like Continental Airlines.”
Donations may be made to the Memory Disorders Unit, c/o Dr. John Growden, Massachusetts General Hospital, 15 Parkman St., Boston, MA 02114.