Campus Directory: John Usher

University of Lethbridge

John Usher


B.I.A. (Organizational Development); M.B.A. (Personnel and Labour Relations); Ph.D. (Organizational Behaviour)


Organizational ecology - specifically niche-width theory, Strategic alliance formation, Complex adaptive systems, Institutionalization theory, Multi-unit organization strategy (franchises, chains), Industrial strategy in emerging economies, Organizational learning, Social responsibility, Social capital

Research Areas

Strategic alliance formation, Complex adaptive systems, Organizational learning, Social responsibility, Social capital

Previous Research Areas

Organizational ecology - specifically niche-width theory, Multi-unit organization strategy (franchises, chains), Organizational learning, Complex systems theory, Medical ethics

About Me

Dr. Usher is Professor of Management (Strategy & Organization Theory)

Fall 2019 - Spring 2020 Classes:

MGT 3031: Managing Responsibly in a Global Environment (three sections) - BMgt

MGT 4090: Management Policy & Strategy - BMgt


Dr. Usher is Professor of Organization Theory and a former President of the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA). He was Dean of the Faculty of Management from July 2002 until February 2004. Dr. Usher came to Alberta from St. John's, NL, where he was in the Faculty of Business Administration at Memorial University from 1994 until 2002, most recently as Associate Dean of Graduate Programs and Research. Dr. Usher served as a faculty member at the University of Alberta from 1988 until 1994 and was an academic coach and course developer with Athabasca University's distance EMBA program from 1994 until 2003. Dr. Usher has extensive expertise in the business world as a strategic planning specialist, production supervisor, senior factory accountant and quality control supervisor gained at General Motors of Canada over a ten-year period.

Research Interests

Dr. Usher's research interests and activities include the area of organizational ecology, specifically niche-width theory, which examines the success of organizational fitness strategies (specialism, generalism and polymorphism) under various conditions of spatial and temporal environmental heterogeneity. His more recent work has focused on the use of complex adaptive systems theory and an exploration of alternative food systems.


Usher, John M., Syed Hammad Ali and Jeroen Huisman. 2016. Canada: Integrating the higher education system of Alberta. Directorate-General for Education and Culture of the European Commission.

Benedetto Lepori, John Usher, Martina Montauti. "Budgetary Allocation and Organizational Characteristics of Higher Education Institutions: A Review of Existing Studies and a Framework for Future Research" Higher Education. 65 (1), 2013.

Aiyegbusi, O. R. Yalamova, J. Usher, "Carbon Pricing in Dynamic Regulation and Changing Economic Environment - Agent Based Model" Regional and Business Studies 3 (1) 2011

Basil, Debra, Mary Runte, Michael Basil, and John Usher. "Company Support for Employee Volunteerism: Does Size Matter?" Journal of Business Research.Vol. 64, No.1, 2010.

Ingraham, Laurie and John Usher. "When the Going Gets Tough: Alliance Formation as a Strategic Response to Negative SRI Screening." International Journal of Sustainable Strategic Management. Vol. 1, No. 3, 2009.

Barragan, Salvador and John Usher. "The Role of Multinationals in the Host Country: Spill Over Effects from the Presence of Auto Cars Makers in Mexico". Administración y Contaduría, 229. 2009.

Wolfe, Richard, Karl Weick, John Usher, Jim Terborg, Laura Poppo, Audrey Murrell, Janet Dukerich, Deborah Crown, Kevin Dickson, Jessica Jourdan, Sport and Organizational Studies: Exploring Synergies. Journal of Management Inquiry, Vol. 14, No. 2, June 2005.

Usher, J.M., Review of "The Dynamics of Rules: Changes in Written Organizational Codes," James G. March, Martin Schulz and Xueguang Zhou, Administrative Science Quarterly. Vol. 47, No. 3, September 2002.

Baum, J.A.C., X.S. Li and J.M.Usher, "Making the next move: Influences of intra- and inter-organizational learning and strategy in the spatial evolution of chains." Administrative Science Quarterly. Vol. 45, No. 4, December 2000.

Usher, J.M., "Dust in the Wind: A Lesson from Maslow's Monkeys" Academy of Management Review. Vol. 25, No. 4, October 2000. Usher, J.M., "Monkeys to Managers: A Bridge Too Far?" Academy of Management Review. Vol 24, No. 4, October 1999.

Usher, J.M., "Specialists, Generalists and Polymorphs: Spatial Advantages of Multiunit Organization in a Single Industry." Academy of Management Review. Vol 24, No 1, January 1999.

Usher, J.M. and M.G. Evans, "Life and Death Along Gasoline Alley: Darwinian and Lamarckian Processes in a Differentiating Population," Academy of Management Journal, Special Forum: Extending the Frontiers of Organizational Ecology. Vol 21, No 4, October 1996.

MSc Students Supervised / Co-supervised:

Hassan Muhumed 2018 The Role of Philanthropy in SMEs: A Comparative Study of Alberta, Canada and Kenya
Komal Jafri 2017 Barriers to Local Food Initiatives in Southern Alberta: An Intensive Case Study
Syed Hammad Ali 2015. Using Complex Adaptive Systems Theory to Drive System Health Measures for a Province-Wide Higher Education System
Carolin Kellermann 2011. Bridging and Bonding in HEI Research Centres
Patricia Vadnais, 2010. An Exploration of Non-Profit Governance Configurations
Gail McKenzie 2008. Partnerships between Non-Profit Organizations and
Businesses: Legitimacy for sale, but at what cost?
Stewart Whillans 2007. The Impact of Role Ambiguity on Knowledge
Laurie Ingraham 2006. Seeing Stars: A Typology of Constellation Networks
Salvador Barragan, 2005. Assessing the Power of Porter's Diamond
Model in the Automobile Industry in Mexico After Ten Years of NAFTA in Mexico
Weijian Lin, 2005. Institutional and Learning Effects in a Newly Opening
Economy: An analysis of foreign entry mode choices as Canadian universities and colleges go to China
Eamonn Lynch, 2004. Leadership: An Open Palm Conversation
Jared Cutting, 2003. Deinstitutionalization in Major Sports Leagues

Previous Research

TitleGrant AgencyCompletion Date
Challenges and opportunities in the knowledge based economy Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) 2000-2003
Niche width theory and competitive strategy: exploring polymorphism Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) 2000-03
Dynamic and evolutionary models of urban and regional systems Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) 2000-03
Commercially sponsored genetic research Ministry of Health and Community Services 2002-03

Curriculum Vitae


Edit this Content