Kim Cameron: the William Russell Kelly Professor of Management & Organizations at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan

My NativAdVantage:


Kim Cameron is the William Russell Kelly Professor of Management and Organizations at the Ross School of Business as well as Professor of Higher Education in the School of Education, both at the University of Michigan.  Past assignments include serving as Associate Dean of Executive Education for the Ross School, serving as Dean and Albert J. Weatherhead Professor of Management in the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, and Associate Dean and Ford Motor Company/Richard E. Cook Professor in the Marriott School of Management at Brigham Young University.  He has also served as a department chair at the University of Michigan, and served on the faculties of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Ricks College.   He organized and directed the Organizational Studies Division of the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems in Boulder, Colorado.

Kim helped co-found the Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship at the University of Michigan, which in 2012 was awarded the Research Center Impact Award by the Academy of Management.  This award recognizes researchers/ research centers that have made a major impact on real world management practice and organizational performance. Kim’s past research on organizational virtuousness, downsizing, effectiveness, quality culture, and the development of leadership excellence has been published in more than 130 academic articles and 15 scholarly books.  He was recently recognized as being among the top 10 scholars in the organizational sciences whose work has been most frequently downloaded from Google.  He currently serves as the program chair for the 2015 World Congress for the International Positive Psychology Association.

What do you do best?

I try to find empirical evidence for the prescriptions and advice that I and others provide to leaders and managers.  Much of what is published in leadership books lacks empirical validity and credibility. Because leadership has such a powerful impact on organizational performance and employee well-being, it behooves us to make certain that the guidance is legitimate.

What makes you the best?

I doubt that I am the very best at anything, but I have very supportive colleagues who help me continually learn and who motivate me to raise my standards.

What are your aspirations?

I aspire to help create a multi-generational impact with the scholarly work that I and my colleagues are conducting.  This means that the work has staying power, is not merely a fad, and has developed an empirical and theoretical foundation upon which scholars and managers can build for generations to come.

Biggest successes?

Aside from marrying an extraordinary woman and rearing seven spectacular children, one of my successes is helping to found the field of Positive Organizational Scholarship.  This has now become a worldwide movement with hundreds of scholars, leaders, and managers studying and applying positive practices and virtuous principles.

Most challenging moment?

My most challenging moments are always facing failure, criticism, coming up short, or disappointing others.  I’ve had several of these kinds of incidents over the last several decades, and the test is always to learn the lessons being taught, develop better resilience, and build a more positive future future.  A CEO once said to me that he would never hire a senior executive in his firm who had not been fired at least once.  The introspection and self-examination that results is highly valuable and usually occurs in no other way.

Favorite motto?

"It ain’t over ‘til it’s over."

Favorite people?

In a professional setting, my favorite people are my colleagues associated with the Center for Positive Organizations at the University of Michigan:  Wayne Baker, Jane Dutton, Shirli Kopelman, Dave Mayer, Bob Quinn, Gretchen Spreitzer, and Lynn Wooten.

Favorite places?

Other than my home or visiting children and grandchildren,  I can’t think of many places I have visited that I have not liked—China, Taiwan, Philippines, Okinawa, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Turkey, France, Germany, Austria, Italy,  Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, UK, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Panama, Canada, South Africa, Namibia., and, of course, Hawaii and Guam.

Favorite products?

Washtenaw Dairy ice cream cones.

Current Passions?