Robert B. Stobaugh

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Robert B. Stobaugh
Born Robert Blair Stobaugh
McGehee, Arkansas
Occupation Chemical engineer; educator; economist
Years active 1947 - 1996
Known for Economics

Robert Blair Stobaugh (15 October 1927 – 14 August 2017)[1] was an American educator who is noted for his research into energy economics and corporate governance.

He earned a degree in chemical engineering from Louisiana State University, and went to work as an engineer at companies such as Esso, Caltex and Monsanto Chemical Company. After leaving Monsanto, he earned a doctorate degree in business administration from Harvard University. He spent 29 years as a professor at the Harvard Business School (HBS). He served as director of the HBS Energy Project from 1972 to 1983.[2] According to Harvard Business School, Stobaugh focused his research interests in three areas: corporate governance, energy and international business. The school credited him with writing or coauthoring ten books and over one hundred other publications during his 30-year career with the school.[3] Arguably, his most notable publication was Energy Future: the Report of the Energy Project, which he co-authored with Daniel Yergin.

Following his retirement from Harvard, he moved to Houston, Texas, where he taught at Rice University for four years. After that, he published the first volume of his memoir entitled,"Starting from Arkansas: Four Continents, Four Countries,Four Kids." He is now working on a second volume of his memoir, which starts with the year he entered Harvard Business School.

Early years[edit]

Stobaugh was raised in the small town of McGehee, Arkansas. At the age of 15, he enrolled in Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemical Engineering in 1947. His first job as a chemical engineer was at the Standard Oil of New Jersey (Esso) Refinery in Baton Rouge. He soon transferred to Creole Petroleum Corporation, which was then an Esso subsidiary, Then, he joined Caltex Petroleum Corporation, a joint venture of Standard Oil of California (now known as Chevron Corporation) and Texaco. He was first assigned to Caltex headquarters in New York City. This led to an assignment in Bahrain followed by a move to London He then joined Monsanto in the Houston area. While with Monsanto, Stobaugh realized that top managers typically had earned technical degrees, but had little training in business administration and economics. He corrected this deficiency in his own training by enrolling in a night school curriculum at the University of Houston.[2]

Academic career[edit]

Stobaugh resigned from Monsanto and enrolled in the Harvard Doctor of Business Administration {DBA} program in 1965. He earned a doctorate in 1968 and became a tenured professor in 1971.[2] In that same year, he led an HBS research team studying the relationship of overseas investment by American businesses and the U.S. economy. The team concluded that the effect was positive. Stobaugh testified before a congressional committee against legislation proposed to restrict such investment. In 1983 he was named as Charles Edward Wilson Professor of Business Administration, teaching courses in general management, energy, international business, and production.[3]

In 1972, before the Arab oil embargo occurred, HBS Dean, Lawrence E. Fouraker, asked Stobaugh to organize a venture at HBS called the Energy Project. He recruited a team of Harvard students and faculty who also had knowledge and experience in energy issues political science and technology.[4]

In 1979, Stobaugh and a colleague, Daniel Yergin, co-authored Energy Future: the Report of the Energy Project at the Harvard Business School, which became a New York Times bestseller.[5] This book was based on the premise that the United States should transition from a policy of unrestricted reliance on imported oil to a more diverse variety of energy resource, and presented the pros and cons of various energy alternatives. Stobaugh was later quoted as saying, “Our goal was to produce a plain English book that would provide a framework for thinking about the energy future.... We wanted to relate not only to academics, but also to the general public and people in the political world who were making key decisions.” The book received widespread publicity even outside academia and became a best seller. Its findings were briefed to President Jimmy Carter, and triggered major energy policy initiatives by the Carter Administration.[4]

Awards and honors[edit]

  • Fellow and past president of the Academy of International Business.[6]
  • Director of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD).[6]
  • Harvard Business School Distinguished Service Award recipient.[6]


  1. ^ Harvard Business School Professor Robert Blair Stobaugh, Jr. Dies at 89
  2. ^ a b c Harvard Business School Bulletin. August 2001. Retrieved July 29, 2012
  3. ^ a b Harvard Business School Bulletin. "Update: Four Professors to Retire." June 1996.[1]
  4. ^ a b Emmons, Gary. Harvard Business Review. "Back to the Future." December 2008. Retrieved August 2, 2012.[2]
  5. ^ Klemesrud, Judy (18 November 1979). "Energy Future". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c Michigan State University. Academy of International Business. "AIB Fellow - Robert B. Stobaugh." November 2003. Retrieved August 1, 2012.[3]