Robert Louis Kahn

Robert Louis Kahn (March 28, 1918 – January 6, 2019) was an American psychologist and social scientist, specializing in organizational theory and survey research, having been considered a "founding father" of the modern approach to these disciplines.[1] He has also been involved in developing studies on aging and his work is critically acclaimed by experts.[2]

Robert Louis Kahn
Born(1918-03-28)March 28, 1918
DiedJanuary 6, 2019(2019-01-06) (aged 100)
Known forSystems theory, Organizational theory
Scientific career
FieldsPsychology, Sociology
InstitutionsUniversity of Michigan


Kahn was born in Detroit, Michigan on March 28, 1918.[3][4] He earned his PhD at the University of Michigan and was one of the founding members of the Institute for Social Research.[5] He taught at the University of Michigan from 1948 to 1976, and directed the "Survey Research Center".[5]

In 1963 he was elected as a Fellow of the American Statistical Association.[6] He was president of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues in 1970.[1]

Kahn died in Burlington, Vermont on January 6, 2019.[7]


Kahn's work on organizational theory, including the book "The Social Psychology of Organizations" (1966) that he co-authored with Daniel Katz, has been described as "a major influence on the field of organizational research, applying a framework of open system theory—the assumption that an organization continuously interacts with its environment—to research on leadership, role behavior, and organizational effectiveness".[2] Kahn has also been appraised as a leading scholar in the study of aging,[2] especially after the publication of "Successful Aging" (1998) that he co-authored with John Wallis Rowe. The book and other pertaining research on the topic by Kahn and collaborators have contributed to the understanding of mechanisms of successful aging.[8]


  • 1966. The Social Psychology of Organizations, co-authored with Daniel Katz.
  • 1998. Successful Aging, co-authored with John Wallis Rowe.


  1. ^ a b Biographical Note at the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues
  2. ^ a b c University of Michigan Institute for Social Research Profile of Robert Kahn
  3. ^ Profile of Robert Louis Kahn
  4. ^ "Michigan Great: Social scientist makes mark in many ways".
  5. ^ a b University of Michigan Institute for Social Research Timeline
  6. ^ View/Search Fellows of the ASA, accessed 2016-07-23.
  7. ^ "U-M Social Psychologist, Research Scientist and ISR Founding Member Bob Kahn dies at 100". University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. January 9, 2019. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  8. ^ Martha R. Crowther et al., "Rowe and Kahn's Model of Successful Aging Revisited," The Gerontologist (2002) 42 (5): 613-620