Robert Aaron Gordon

American economist (1908-1978)

Robert Aaron Gordon (26 July 1908 - April 7, 1978) was an American economist and professor at the School of Business of the University of California (Berkeley), known for his works on business leadership, higher business education, business cycle theory and policy.

Quotes edit

  • The majority of students studying for the master's degree in business are enrolled in makeshift programs which are generally unsatisfactory... Business administration gets a much larger portion of poor students and a smaller percentage of the best students than do the traditional professional fields.
    • Robert A. Gordon and James E. Howell. Higher education for business. 1959
  • A study of business education in the United States was recently conducted by Professors Robert A. Gordon of the University of California (Berkeley) and John E. Howell of Stanford University. Their book, Higher Education for Business, has been published by Columbia University Press. Among their major recommendations are:
1 - An increase in the general-education content of undergraduate business education to more than 50 per cent...
2 - Elimination of "fields of concentration" in undergraduate business schools and "drastic streamlining of the number of required courses." "Business itself is enough specialized," Professors Gordon and Howell wrote...
  • Robert A. Gordon and James E. Howell. "Higher education for business." The Journal of Business Education 35.3 (1959): 115-117.

Business Leadership in the Large Corporation (1945) edit

Robert A. Gordon. Business Leadership in the Large Corporation, 1945; 2nd ed. 1961

  • This pioneer work, written for both the professional economist and the businessman, has become a classic in its field. It is a detailed examination of the structure of the large business corporation in relation to its actual economic functioning. Because Gordon views the corporation not as an external institution but as organized human activity, his emphasis is on the personal and volitional elements in leadership, or how businessmen actually shape their practices. His analysis is based on a formidable mass of case material and statistical data
    • Abstract
  • In the infinitely complex economic system on which we rely for our daily bread, no productive function is more important than that of our business leaders. These men are charged with the responsibility of giving direction and unity to the efforts of the many who participate in economic activity. It is their job to make the plans and decisions which will transform economic effort into the particular goods and services wanted by a myriad of consumers. Conversely, it is their job also to translate consumers' needs into employment opportunities for labor and other economic resources
    • p. 3
  • Speak... of the separation of ownership and active leadership. Ordinarily the problem is stated in terms of the divorce between ownership and "control". This last word is badly overused, and it needs to be precisely defined... Our procedure... will be to study the ownership of officers and directors and then to ascertain the extent to which non-management stockholdings are sufficiently concentrated to permit through ownership the wielding of considerable power and influence (control?) over management by an individual, group or another corporation.
    • p. 24, footnote 20; as cited in: Marco Becht et al. Corporate Governance and Control, 2005. p. 61
  • Production management courses are often the repository for some of the most inappropriate and intellectually stultifying materials to be found in the business curriculum... many faculty members have little respect for such courses... and students complained more strongly to us about the pointlessness of the production requirement than of any other.
  • Corporation executives, particularly the more prominent ones, and wealthy individuals generally decry the fact that the "New Deal" has fostered a feeling of class-consciousness among workers and low-income groups. Class-consciousness, however, is not new in this country, and it is most pronounced among those groups who decry it while not recognizing the phenomenon themselves. Common social backgrounds, common business interests, and common fears, prejudices, and loyalties create among those who possess wealth and economic power a strong and clear-cut feeling of membership in an economic and social class.
    • p. 252, footnote 12
  • Except for specialists such as market analysts and the like, economists as a professional group have had surprisingly little influence on businessman.
    • p. 259, footnote 26
  • The more active working directors become, the more closely involved they resemble the executives now responsible for providing business leadership. A full-time working director is merely another official who is also a director. Wide adoption of the proposal for professional directors, particularly if management is able to select the directors itself, may merely make general the situation now found in some companies in which only the executive group is represented on the board.
    • p. 346-7
  • Merely professionalizing the board of directors is not enough to achieve competent business leadership and at the same time the necessary independent check on executives.
    • p. 347
  • The real revolution (in property rights) has already largely taken place; the great majority of stockholders have been deprived of control of their property through the diffusion of ownership and the growth in the power of management.
    • p. 350

Business Fluctuations (1952) edit

Robert A. Gordon. Business Fluctuations (1952)

  • Business-cycle theorists concerned themselves with why the economy naturally generated fluctuations in employment and output, [while the rest of the profession] continued to operate on the assumption that full employment was the natural, equilibrium position for the economy.
    • p. 340; as cited in: Thomas Cate (2013), An Encyclopedia of Keynesian Economics, Second edition. p. 347

Quotes about Robert Aaron Gordon edit

  • Robert Aaron Gordon [was] an economist and an international authority on business cycles and manpower policy... Dr. Gordon, a professor emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley, had been consultant to the President's Council of Economic Advisers under Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson. In 1975, he served as the president of the American Economic Association. Dr. Gordon, who was a strong critic of the current computer techniques used on economics, helped to design today's unemployment statistics when he was the bead of a Presidential commission that bore his Warne in the early 1960's.
    • Rudy Johnson. "Robert Aaron Gordon, Economist And Expert on Manpower, Dies," in New York Times, April 8, 1978
  • Already before World War II he had turned his attention to what would become a life-long preoccupation; business cycle theory and policy, with special emphasis on man-power problems and unemployment. His books on The Dynamics of Economic Activity (1947) and Business Fluctuations (1952) were for many years standard reading at American universities, and it was an obvious choice when in the early sixties the American Economic Association asked him to co-edit (with Lawrence Klein) its second volume on Readings in Business Cycles (1965), his most outstanding contributions in this field. His last book in this field was Economic Growth and Instability (1974). His primary interest, however, was in the more narrow field of unemployment, which he saw as his country's most serious.
    • Ewald T. Grether et al. "Robert Aaron Gordon, Economics: Berkeley, 1908-1978, Professor Emeritus." in: University of California: In Memoriam, 1980, California Digital Library, 2016.
  • Although the Gordon and Howell report noted the diversity of approaches to the study of management, it was Harold Koontz who delineated the differences and applied the catchy label ‘‘management theory jungle.’’

External links edit

External links edit

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