H. Thomas Johnson

H. Thomas Johnson


H. Thomas Johnson is Professor of Business Administration at Portland State University in Oregon and Distinguished Consulting Professor of Sustainable Business at Bainbridge Graduate Institute in Washington. He was named one of the 200 leading management thinkers living today in a survey published by Harvard Business School Press in 2003. In 2007 he received two awards for distinguished lifetime achievement: the American Society for Quality Deming Medal and the Seminal Contributions to Accounting Literature Award of the American Accounting Association. In 1996 Johnson’s colleagues at Portland State selected him for the Branford Price Millar Award for Faculty Excellence, the university’s highest honor for research, service and teaching.

Johnson came to PSU in 1988 as the first holder of the endowed Retzlaff Chair in Management Accounting and Quality Management. He has an undergraduate degree in economics from Harvard, an MBA in accounting from Rutgers, and a PhD in economic history from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Before entering an academic career, he was employed as a CPA by Arthur Andersen & Co.

Johnson is an internationally-noted authority on economic history, management accounting, quality management and operations management. Author of seven books and over 100 articles and reviews on these subjects, Johnson has received many honors for his publications, including Harvard Business School’s Newcomen Award in Business History, National Association of Accountants’ Lybrand Medal, and the American Accounting Association’s Wildman Gold Medal. Twice he received the coveted Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing Research, first in 2001 for his co-authored book Profit Beyond Measure: Extraordinary Results through Attention to Work and People (The Free Press, 2000) and again in 2007 for an article on lean accounting.

His best-selling Relevance Lost: The Rise and Fall of Management Accounting (Harvard Business School Press, 1987 and 1991), co-authored with Robert S. Kaplan, was named by Harvard Business Review in 1997 as one of the most influential management books published in the twentieth century. His controversial and internationally-acclaimed sequel to that book was Relevance Regained: From Top-Down Control to Bottom-Up Empowerment (The Free Press, 1992). His books have appeared in eight languages.

Among his many high-level professional and academic appointments, Professor Johnson is a past-President of The Academy of Accounting Historians and he has served on the editorial boards of over a dozen major professional journals, including Accounting Review , Business History Review , International Journal of Strategic Cost Management , Journal of Cost Management and Quality Management Journal . He was the Towne Lecturer to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 1993, the Distinguished International Lecturer of the British Accounting Association in 1996 and the 2002 Invited Lecturer in Business at Uppsala University in Sweden. He has served on several boards including the Oregon Quality Award Board of Overseers, the USA TODAY Quality Cup Judges Board, the Procter & Gamble Quality Forum, the Production System Council of Visteon Corporation, the Lean Manufacturing Oversight Technical Committee of SME, and the Advisory Board of Maxager Technology, Inc. He has been active in the Association for Manufacturing Excellence and the Society for Organizational Learning.

Since the mid-1980s Johnson has given hundreds of presentations and workshops to corporate, professional, and academic audiences around the world in scores of major organizations, including Alcoa, AICPA, APICS, Arthur Andersen & Co., Association for Manufacturing Excellence, ATK Thiokol Propulsion, BDO Scan/Futura (Denmark), Boeing, British Petroleum, Chrysler, Consultique (South Africa), The Deming Forum (UK), The Deming Institute, Ericsson Telefon, Ernst & Young, Ford Motor Company, Institute of Industrial Engineers, Institute of Management Accountants, Intel, Japanese Production and Inventory Control Society, National Bureau of Economic Research, The Ohio Productivity and Quality Forum, Pacific Bell, Pegasus Communications, Process Management International Ltd. (UK), Samarbetande Konsulter AB (Sweden), Scania (Sweden), Schneider Electric (France), Schlumberger (France), Scott Paper, Skandia (Sweden), Society for Organizational Learning, Sprint, Studio Ambrosetti (Italy), TeleNord (Norway), Toyota Motor Manufacturing USA, Visteon Corporation, Volvo, and Weyerhaeuser.

His current research focuses on the intersection of systems thinking, modern physics, and sustainable operations management. He is exploring the application of natural living system principles to the design of ecologically-focused local business operations that emulate and extend the scope of the Toyota Production System.

Showing 5 of 5 results

Management Accounting: Catalyst for Inquiry or Weapon for Control?

Since the 1950s, accounting has increasingly become the “language” of business. The growing importance of accounting systems since that time has led to two…

Toyota’s Current Crisis: The Price of Focusing on Growth Not Quality

For the past 15 years or so, I have told audiences a story about how my perception of what determines good business performance has…

A Systemic Path to Lean Management

Businesses everywhere have given enormous attention to “lean” management programs for over a decade. However, none emulates what Toyota, the creator of lean, has…

A Global System Growing Itself to Death—and What We Can Do About It

The underlying purpose of today’s global economy, most assume, is to transform natural resources into a continuously growing quantity of goods and services for…

Manage by Means, Not Results

Etion line may churn out three different car models in 10 different colors. Sounds inefficient, doesn’t it? At the very least, Toyota’s shop floors…