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Richard Robinson, Sloan professor emeritus, 88

Richard D. Robinson, professor emeritus at MIT's Sloan School of Management
Richard D. Robinson, professor emeritus at MIT's Sloan School of Management

Richard D. Robinson, professor emeritus at MIT's Sloan School of Management, died on Sept. 5, in Gig Harbor, Wash, at age 88.

In a life as a teacher, author, journalist, explorer and internationalist, he wrote 16 books, edited or contributed to five others and produced many articles. While at MIT, he founded the study of international business management and helped establish MIT's post-war relationship with China in the late 1970s.

Robinson was a graduate of the University of Washington, the Harvard Graduate School of Business and MIT, where he received his PhD. He also spent a year at the London School of Oriental and African Studies, where he focused on Turkish history, literature, and language and Islamic law.

Moving to Turkey in 1947, Robinson was among the first Americans to explore, photograph, and write about the central and eastern part of the country, initially as a fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs, then as the Turkish area specialist for the American Universities Field Staff. At this time he also worked as a part-time journalist for the Chicago Daily News.

Returning to the United States in 1956, Robinson taught contemporary Turkish history at Harvard, while researching the activities of U.S. corporations in lesser-developed countries, and decided to pursue an academic career in international management. In more than two decades as a professor at MIT, Robinson wrote pioneering textbooks on the subject, including "International Business Policy," established the field at Sloan, and founded the Academy of International Business while emphasizing the subject of culture and values within international management study and practice.

Later, Robinson chaired the Florence R. Kluckhohn Center for the Study of Values in Bellingham, Wash., which has helped resolve cultural conflicts in a number of areas, most notably between Native Americans and the government in Alaska. Robinson was also active in the Tacoma-Seattle World Affairs Council and in the Hamlin Robinson School for Dyslexic Children in Seattle, established in the memory of his older brother. Robinson's last publication, "In The Process of Creation," was a co-edited volume of the writings of his father, the Rev. William D. Robinson of Yakima, Wash.

Robinson leaves a wife, Carol, and three children by his first wife, Elizabeth Ann, who died in 1979: Linda McCaffrey of Brookfield Center, Conn.; Kermit Robinson of Hanover, Mass; and Wendy Robinson of Bethlehem, N.H. He also leaves five grandchildren, one great-grandchild, six stepchildren, and four step-grandchildren.

A memorial reception will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 19 at the family home in Gig Harbor, Wash., and on Oct. 2 in Denver. Donations may be made to the Hamlin Robinson School for Dyslexic Children, Seattle, or Minerva Scholarship Fund for deserving women returning to school, PO Box 2705, Gig Harbor, WA, 98335.

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