Alan Rugman was born in Bristol in 1945. He took his bachelor’s degree in economics at the University of Leeds in 1966 and a master’s in economic development from Soas, University of London in 1967. He completed his economics PhD in 1974 at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, a year after he had become a Canadian citizen.
At the time of his death, Professor Rugman had returned to the UK, and was head of international business and strategy at the University of Reading’s Henley Business School. He was a founding fellow of the John H. Dunning Centre for International Business, also at Reading.
During a distinguished academic career, he published more than 300 journal articles. His acclaimed book Inside the Multinationals: The Economics of Internal Markets (1981, reissued in 2006) developed his theories in a North American context, and he was co-author of the best-selling textbook International Business, now in its sixth edition.
His many university roles included the L. Leslie Waters chair of international business at the Kelley School of Business, Indiana University, which he held from 2001 to 2009, and the Thames Water fellow in strategic management at Templeton College, University of Oxford (1998-2001). He also held tenured posts at three Canadian institutions: the University of Winnipeg (1970-78), Dalhousie University (1979-87) and the University of Toronto (1987-98). He became a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1998.
During his time in Canada, Professor Rugman served as external adviser to two Canadian prime ministers on issues of trade, including during the negotiation and adoption of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994.
Professor Rugman was an early proponent of internalisation theory, one of the concepts that forms the basis of what is known in academic literature as the Reading School. Among his collaborators was Mark Casson, currently professor of economics at Reading, whom he met in 1977 during a one-year sabbatical at the University of Reading’s department of economics.
Professor Casson described his close friend as a “one-off…He was one of those people who really believed in their research, and for him, it really mattered.
“This meant he could get very frustrated with people who, in his view, talked nonsense. [At conferences] I’d be sat next to him, and you could see him trying to restrain himself from jumping up and shouting at the speaker.”
Professor Rugman died on 7 July following a sudden illness. He is survived by his wife Helen and son Andrew.