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Honorary degree citation - Henry Mintzberg

By: Mohsen Anvari, June 2001

Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you Dr. Henry Mintzberg, an original thinker in the field of managerial practice, whose back-to-the-basics management philosophy challenges conventional myths about what makes successful organizations.

Born in Montreal, he earned his Bachelor of Engineering degree from McGill University, his Bachelor of Arts degree from Sir George Williams University, and his Master's and PhD degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Since 1968, he has been a professor in the Management Faculty at McGill, where he holds the Cleghorn Chair in Management Studies. He is a founding director of the International Master's in Practicing Management Program, offered jointly by McGill University, England's Lancaster University, Hitotsubashi University in Japan, the Indian Institute of Management, and l'Institut européen d'administration des affaires in France, known as INSEAD. The program brings together 40 managers from different countries for an executive education on management with a strong international focus.

In addition to his research on international management and supervision of doctoral students at McGill, Dr. Mintzberg has been a visiting professor at the Université d'Aix Marseille in France, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, l'Ecoledes Hautes Etudes Commerciales in Montreal, and the London Business School in England. He holds a joint appointment at INSEAD, and has also served as a consultant and lecturer to businesses and governments around the world.

Dr. Mintzberg is a distinguished contemporary management author whose work is widely disseminated. Over more than 30 years, he has written extensively on management, the structuring of organizations and the strategy planning process. He is the author or co-author of seven books, including The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning, which won the best book award from the Academy of Management in 1995.

Dr. Mintzberg has devoted his career to observing and understanding how people actually manage their organizations. He remains at the forefront of research into strategic development and managerial practice because of his powerful insight into the field. Indeed, his vision continues to be as relevant in the new economy as it was when he began.

Some of these ideas are shaping today's corporate functioning, ideas such as: Leadership cannot exist in the absence of potential and experience. Top managers must know their businesses intimately - unlike so many today who parachute from industry to industry. Mid-level managers should step out of their offices and talk to customers-rather than relying on reports from underlings. And junior employees should feel free to act creatively. Effective leadership is low key, engaging and interactive. Effective strategies are not hatched by top management, but emerge when an organizations culture promotes learning and the free flow of information across all levels.

Dr. Mintzberg demonstrates that effective strategic management today relies on ideas and practices that originate from collaborative contact, competition and confrontation, from rethinking old ideas, as well as from sheer creativity. His current research interests include the interpersonal, informational and decisional roles of managers, the process of strategy formation, and the impact of design on organizations.

Dr. Mintzberg was the first Fellow to be elected to the Royal Society of Canada from the field of management. He became an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1997. He is a recipient of the 1996 Léon-Gérin Prix du Québec, and two-time recipient of the McKinsey Prize awarded by the Harvard Business Review. Dr. Mintzberg is past president of the Strategic Management Society, an organization which he helped found.

Mr. Chancellor, on behalf of Senate and the Board of Governors, it is my privilege and an honour to present to you Dr. Henry Mintzberg, so that you may confer upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

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