Matthew J. Sobel joined the Case faculty in 1998 and became emeritus in 2014. He was the William E. Umstattd Professor of Industrial Economics, Professor of Operations, and Professor (by courtesy) of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He also chaired the Department of Operations and the Department of Economics. His non-academic posts included the corporate staff of the Western Electric Company, regional environmental planning at a forerunner of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and consultation for diverse firms and agencies. Before Case, Sobel was on the faculties of Yale University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Also, he was a visiting faculty member at the University of Arizona and New York University, and in Belgium at the Center for Operations Research and Econometrics. He was on the advisory board of the Center for the Study of the Environment, and the founding academic advisory board in the environmental sciences at the Central European University.
Sobel is best known for his research on how to make effective decisions in situations that are risky and complex. His current research pursues that theme by modeling decision makers’ preferences regarding timing and risk. The settings include the coordination of a firm’s operational and financial decisions, a treatment regime for a patient with a serious chronic disease, mitigating global climate change, and coordinating a firm’s capacity expansion with its operations.
Twenty-three doctoral students completed their dissertations under his direction, and many went on to distinguished careers all over the world. Sobel’s honors include Fellow of the Institute for Operations Research and Management Science (INFORMS), Distinguished Fellow of the Manufacturing and Service Operations Management Society (MSOM), the University Lead Award of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), runner-up for the Lanchester Prize of the Operations Research Society of America (ORSA), the best paper award of iFORM (the special interest group on the interface of finance, operations, and risk management), Sigma Xi (science honor society), Alpha Pi Mu (industrial engineering honor society), and conferences at Case and Rutgers University on the occasion of his retirement. Sobel has served on the editorial boards of premier journals and published several books and many research papers on topics in operations research, operations and supply chain management, economics, and the natural environment.
Selected Recent Presentations
Sobel, M. J., “Collaboration with a Supplier to Induce Fair Labor Practices: Risk, Reputation, and Profit,” Supply Chain Finance & Risk Management Workshop, Washington University, 2018.
Sobel, M. J., “Production and Capacity Management with Internal Financing,” Manufacturing & Service Operations Management Society meeting at the University of North Carolina, 2017.
Sobel, M. J., “A Discounting-Risk Paradox with Quadratic Utility,” International Conference on Operations Research, Havana Cuba, 2016.
Sobel, M. J., “Operations Management and the Discounting-Risk Neutrality Conundrum,” INFORMS Annual Meeting, 2014.
Sobel, M. J., "The Trojan Horse of Discounting Under Risk", University of Chicago, 2013.
Sobel, M. J., "Reconciling Ecology and Economics", Hoover Institution, 2012.
Sobel, M. J., “Discounting Axioms Imply Risk Neutrality,” Columbia University, 2011.
Selected Papers and Books
Ning, J. and Sobel, M. J. (2019). Easy Affine Markov Decision Processes. Operations Research. 67 (6), 1719-1737.
Ning, J. and Sobel, M. J. (2018). Production and Capacity Management with Internal Financing. Manufacturing and Service Operations Management, 20(1), 147-160.
Sobel, M. J. (2013). Discounting Axioms Imply Risk Neutrality. Annals of Operations Research, 208(1), 417-432.
Li, L., Shubik, M., Sobel, M. J. (2013). Control of Dividends, Capital Subscriptions, and Physical Inventories. Management Science, 59(5), 1107-1124.
Botkin, D. B., Saxe, H., Sobel, M. J., and others (2007). "Forecasting Effects of Global Warming on Biodiversity " Bioscience, Vol. 57, 227-236.
Heyman, D. P. and Sobel, M. J., Stochastic Models in Operations Research, Volumes I and II, Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, NY, 2004 (previously published by McGraw-Hill in 1982 and 1984).
Heyman, D. P. and Sobel, M. J. (Eds.), Handbook of Operations Research and Management Science, Volume 2: Stochastic Models, Elsevier-North Holland, Amsterdam, 1990.