Faculty & Research

Faculty and Executive Leadership Directory

Robert E. Cole

Professor Emeritus
Haas Management of Organizations Group
(510) 601-5607
Email: click on the envelope icon below for full email address
Academic Status: Emeritus
Office Hours: n/a
Curriculum Vitae (in PDF format, Acrobat Reader required)
LinkedIn Profile


PhD, Sociology, University of Illinois
MA, Labor and Industrial Relations, University of Illinois
BA, Economics, Hobart College

Positions Held

At Haas since 1990
2007 – present, Visiting Researcher, ITEC, Doshisha University, Japan
2003 – present, Professor Emeritus, Haas School of Business and Department of Sociology, UC Berkeley

2006 – 2012, Executive Director, Leadership Excellence and Advancement Program (LEAP), a joint program between the Management of Technology Program (MOT) and Hamdan bin Mohammed e-University in Dubai, UAE

2003 – 2006, Omron Distinguished Professor of Management of Technology, Director of Management of Technology Program, Doshisha Management School, Japan
1997 – 2006, Co-Director, Management of Technology Program (MOT), Haas School of Business (a joint program with the College of Engineering)
1990 – 2002, Professor, Haas School of Business and Department of Sociology, UC Berkeley
1967 – 1990, Assistant, Associate, and (Full) Professor of Sociology, University of Michigan

External Service and Assignments

  • Elected Member: International Academy of Quality
  • Board of Directors: American Productivity and Quality Council (APQC)

Current Research and Interests

  • Software and Automotive industries
  • Management of technology
  • Japanese organizations
  • Quality
  • Organizational learning, knowledge management
  • Organizational transformation

Selected Papers and Publications

  • “The Japanese Software Industry: What Went Wrong and What Can we Learn From it? (with Yoshifumi Nakata) “California Management Review” Fall 2014: 16-43
  • What Happened to Toyota,” MIT Sloan Management Review, 62, 4 (Summer, 2011): 29-35.
  • “An Evolutionary and Comparative Perspective on the Japanese Enterprise Software Industry,” (with Shinya Fushimi), Hiroaki Miyoshi and Yoshifumi Nakata (ed.) Has the Japanese Enterprise Changed,  Palgrave MacMillan’s Asian Business Series (British), 2011.
  • “Automotive Quality Reputation: Hard to Achieve, Hard to Lose, Still Harder to Win Back: The Case of U.S. and Japanese Auto Quality,” with Michael Flynn. California Management Review 50 (Fall 2009): 67-93.


  • Designs and lectures at customized executive education programs for leading Japanese firms on such topics as: management of technology, creating new business models, the challenge of quality and innovation and software, 2002-present.
  • Designed, moderated and taught in week long seminar for high-tech Japanese executives on management of technology, Doshisha University, 2003-2006

Honors and Awards

  • Awarded Eugene E. L. Grant Medal, American Society of Quality, “For a lifetime commitment to rigorous research into the sociological phenomena that influence quality practices within the work environment and stimulate innovative action through the participation of workers, and publication of his research results in the world’s most influential quality and management journals.” May, 2014.
  • Assorted research grants from: Monbukagakusho, Center for Japanese Studies, UC Berkeley and The Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation, Institute for Business Innovation, at the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley, 2009-2014.
  • Project Leader, Center of Excellence Program, Doshisha University (funded by Monbukagakusho), 2003-2008
  • Winner of Best Book Award (for Managing Quality Fads), International Academy of Quality, 1999
  • Co-Winner, Andersen Consulting Award for best article contributing to the practice of management in 1998-1999: “Learning from the Quality Movement: What Did and Didn’t Happen and Why.” California Management Review (Fall 1998).
  • Fellow: Center for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Sciences, Palo Alto, CA, 1995-1996

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