Charles J. “Chuck” Christenson, a specialist in managerial accounting and control, died of natural causes at his Cambridge, Mass., home at the age of 80. At the time of his death, he was the Royal Little Professor of Business Administration Emeritus at Harvard Business School (HBS).
A member of the active HBS faculty for almost 40 years, Christenson had a distinguished career as an innovator, teacher, and scholar. His research focused on organizations as learning systems, corporate adaptability, and the applications of social sciences to business.
“He had a deep intelligence and broad training in the philosophy of science, which encompasses the social, physical, and biological sciences and examines ‘how we know what we know,’” said Baker Foundation Professor Robert S. Kaplan. “Most accounting scholars are familiar with accounting and maybe economics, but Chuck pulled from diverse disciplines to understand management behavior.”
He taught the first-year M.B.A. courses in managerial economics and control. He also taught in the Owner/President Management Program for executives and a doctoral seminar on the theory and development of complex systems. He is the author of several books.
“Chuck was a brilliant, gifted man, who brought a rigor and ambition to his thinking about the nature of organizations and how you derive truth from theory,” said Regina E. Herzlinger, the Nancy R. McPherson Professor of Business Administration and a former student of Christenson’s.
Born on Sept. 25, 1930, in Chicago, Christenson made his first scholarly contribution at the age of only 22. He graduated from Cornell in 1952 and graduated from HBS with high distinction as a Baker Scholar in 1954.
A private memorial service will be held in Chicago. Donations in his memory may be sent to Boston Baroque, 68 Leonard Street, Belmont, Mass., 02478.
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