Charles J. Corbett is IBM Chair in Management and a professor of operations management and sustainability at the UCLA Anderson School of Management; he holds a joint appointment at the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. Throughout his career, Corbett has been drawn to newly emerging research areas in operations management. “Once a domain becomes well-established, it gets the attention of many scholars who are much smarter than I am, so it’s time to move on to unplowed territory.”
A hallmark of Corbett’s research approach is adapting perspectives and methods from other disciplines. Early in his career, Corbett was one of the first researchers to model the conflicting interests of supply chain participants using game theory. He is among the pioneers studying environmental issues in operations and supply chains, which continues to be his main focus. More recently, Corbett is beginning to study operations of small businesses and entrepreneurs, another relatively unexplored area in operations management.
“There’s a growing interest in environmental and social ‘behaviors’ or strategies,” Corbett says. “I’d like to see a lot more focus on quantitative measurement of environmental and social impacts in the academic literature.” Working with CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) in London, the leading collector of data on firms’ greenhouse gas emissions and climate change strategies, Corbett and colleagues are analyzing the carbon footprint in global supply chains of large firms to identify opportunities for cleaner, more sustainable processes. “Just measuring something like carbon footprint will often lead to improvements,” he says.
Corbett was the founding faculty director of Anderson’s Easton Technology Leadership Program (now the Easton Technology Management Center) and of the award-winning interdisciplinary UCLA Leaders in Sustainability graduate certificate program. He served as associate dean of the MBA program and, from 2009 to 2012, as faculty chairman and deputy dean for academic affairs at UCLA Anderson. “Playing a role in managing an organization as complex as a business school has certainly further enhanced my appreciation of the challenges executives face every day.”
His published work addresses the diffusion, impact and governance of ISO 9000 (quality assurance requirements) and ISO 14000 (standards for environmental management tools and systems), manufacturers’ implementation of energy efficiency practices, and, most recently, governance and diffusion of eco-labels. He is editor-in-chief of Foundations and Trends in Technology, Information and Operations Management and holds editorial positions at other leading journals including POM and the Journal of Industrial Ecology. In 2013 he was elected a lifetime fellow of the Production and Operations Management Society. He received the Citibank Teaching Award, the Executive MBA Class of 2006 Outstanding Teaching Award and the Robbins Assistant Professor Teaching Award, in addition to the Dean’s Prize for exceptional faculty mentorship of UCLA Anderson doctoral students, the UCLA Staff Assembly’s Faculty/Staff Partnership Award and the J. Clayburn LaForce Faculty Leadership Award. He was an AT&T Faculty Fellow in Industrial Ecology for 1997–99.
Corbett has worked with teams of MBA students to study emerging areas such as green building, carbon footprinting in global firms and eco-labeling, and with Ph.D. students on many of his research projects. In the classroom, Corbett’s objective is to get students to think about processes, no matter what they do or where they do it — though in 21st-century technology, once-familiar processes, like a physical assembly line, take the “invisible” form of information and ideas. “There’s a very strong connection in my mind between quality of management in general and good understanding of operations and processes. And the beauty of operations is that some things don’t change.”
Ph.D. Production and Operations Management, 1996, INSEAD
Drs. Operations Research, (M.Sc. equivalent) 1992, Erasmus University
Elected Fellow of the Production and Operations Management Society, 2013
Citibank Teaching Award, UCLA, June 2008
EMBA Class of 2006 Outstanding Teaching Award, June 2006
George Robbins Assistant Professor Teaching Award, 2002
AT&T Faculty Fellow of Industrial Ecology, 1998–1999