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Robert Blanning, professor of management, emeritus, dies

by | Jun. 27, 2013, 12:55 PM

Robert Blanning (Vanderbilt)

Robert W. Blanning, professor of management, emeritus, at the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management, died June 25. He was 76.

Blanning’s global experience combined the worlds of academia and business. His research focused on decision support systems, information systems research and artificial intelligence. He conducted influential research into how the public might react to the Y2K scare.

Blanning served as a second lieutenant in the United States Army. He graduated with a B.S. in physics from Pennsylvania State University, an M.S. in operations research from the Case Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. in operations research from the University of Pennsylvania. He served as an operations research analyst for the Mobil Oil Corp. and as a nuclear engineer at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory before joining academia.

Blanning came to the Owen Graduate School of Management in 1980 from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Previous positions included the College of Business and Public Administration and Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

He was a Fulbright Scholar at the National University of Singapore. Blanning’s overseas professional and developmental business efforts in Singapore and Hong Kong were of utmost importance to him.

In 1998 and 1999, Blanning and former Owen School Clinical Professor of Management Fred Talbott conducted research that showed most Americans planned to withdraw most or all of their funds from banks and investment houses due to the Y2K scare, which could lead to an economic collapse. Their response was to teach more than 800 banks to turn the situation into a major marketing success.

Blanning had articles featured in such prominent publications as Management Science, Information Systems Research, the Columbia Journal of World Business, the International Journal of Management, Futures and Long Range Planning. Until recently, he served on the board of editors of the Journal of Management Information Systems. He retired from Vanderbilt in 2011.

Blanning is survived by his brother, Bruce Blanning, his wife Sandy and their children Natalie, Brian, Ryan and Cherish.

Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, June 27, at Woodlawn-Roesch-Patton Funeral Home. A graveside service is planned for 1:30 p.m. Friday, June 28, at Woodlawn Memorial Park in Nashville.

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