Professor Emeritus Robert E. Cole will receive the American Society for Quality (ASQ) Grant Medal for a “lifetime commitment to rigorous research" on the management of quality.
Cole is the first social scientist to ever win the Grant Medal, which in the past has been presented to those with backgrounds in engineering or statistics.
Cole came to Berkeley-Haas in 1990. For many years, he served as co-director of the interdisciplinary Management of Technology (MOT) Program, a joint program with the Haas School, the College of Engineering, and the School of Information Management & Systems. Known for his work comparing quality innovation in U.S. and Japanese auto manufacturing, Cole's research focuses on the automotive and software industries.
Over the course of three decades, Cole examined firsthand the differences among Swedish, Japanese, and U.S. work cultures, business management, and IT practices. He became a leading expert on Japanese work practices and later on quality management, culminating in the book Managing Quality Fads, published in 1999.
ASQ cited Cole's commitment to rigorous research on the sociological phenomena that influence quality within the work environment. They also credited his research with stimulating innovation through the involvement of workers.
Cole is one of 21 individuals who will be honored by the ASQ at its World Conference on Quality and Improvement on May 4 in Dallas, Texas.