James Conley is an inventor who serves as a faculty member in the Kellogg Center for Research in Technology & Innovation and as a Faculty Fellow at the Northwestern University Segal Design Institute. Beyond Northwestern, he served as an appointed member on the United States Department of Commerce Trademark Public Advisory Committee to the Patent and Trademark Office and is a Charter Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. His research investigates the strategic use of intangible assets and intellectual properties to build and sustain competitive advantage. Research sponsors have included the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), National Science Foundation, NASA, FAA, NIST, the Department of Defense, Motorola, Daimler-Chrysler, and others.
In 2004, 2007, 2014, 2015 and 2016, he received the Professor of the Year award from the Master of Product Development program at Northwestern University. In 2013 he received the Professor of the Year award from the Master of Science program at the WHU in Germany. He has been called to offer testimony on intellectual property related matters in legal forums including the International Trade Commission, US Federal District Court and US Federal Tax Court..
He served as the General Electric Foundation Professor and the Pentair-Nugent Professor of Manufacturing and Business Leadership from 1994 to 2000. Additionally, his publications have been recognized with "Best Paper" commendations from the American Foundry Society, the Society of Automotive Engineers, The Rapid Prototyping Journal and others. Mainstream outlets for his scholarship include the Wall Street Journal, the Sloan Management Review and the California Management Review.