Martin K. Starr

Brief Biography

Martin K. Starr

Martin K. Starr is a visionary proponent of production and operations management (POM) as an academic discipline. He was able to advance this field and others as president of The Institute of Management Sciences (TIMS) and the Production and Operations Management Society (POMS). Throughout his career, Starr has been a driving force in the establishment and growth of system integration, modular production, and catastrophe avoidance. He received his undergraduate education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before pursuing graduate study in operations research at Columbia. 

At the time of Starr's Ph.D. award in 1953, production and operations management was a relatively young discipline. Most OR at the point had been primarily focused on the military sector and had yet to be widely integrated into industry. The first textbook on production management was not published until 1961. This environment gave Starr the possibility to work on the field from the ground-up. In the early 1960s, Starr helped POM develop a tangible identity with a series of books on inventory control and production, culminating in Production Management: Systems and Synthesis (1964). In Production Management, Starr emphasized the existence of boundaries between subsystems and the strong need to integrate them. The book included chapters explaining the numerous interactions that POM had with such areas as financing and marketing. The following year, Starr articulated the concept of modular production, developing a means to design and manufacture parts which can be combined in the maximum number of ways. 

Starr evinces a global perspective in his work on production operations. When he was the director of the Center for Enterprise Management (CEM) at Columbia and later at Rollins College, Starr and his staff conducted studies of the performance of Japanese and European firms operating in the United States. In the 1980s, he developed a global network model and identified important factors that provided comparative advantages in international trade. At CEM, Starr also dealt with supply chain performance problems in health care systems and nursing services. Starr has also worked on the logistics of avoiding catastrophes and responding to global crises.

Starr received the 1983 George E. Kimball Medal for his dedicated service to professional OR organizations. For fifteen years (1967-1982) he served as the Editor-in-Chief of Management Science. Starr restructured the publication and created a departmental system in which each autonomous, departmental editor was responsible for the selection of which articles to publish. This rearrangement allowed for the entire publication to better reflect a diversity of subjects in every volume. During his time as editor, Starr served as the twenty-first president of TIMS (1974-1975). He would later be a leading figure in the establishment of POMS in the late 1980s/early 1990s, serving as its president in 1995. He is involved in POMS' "College of Humanitarian and Crisis Management" that addresses the operational logistics of dealing with humanitarian disasters and crises. He is also the Departmental Editor of the Disaster Management Department of the Production and Operations Management Journal, and the Director of Strategic Planning for POMS.  In the latter capacity he serves as a member of the board of POMS. The Society named a prize in his honor (The Martin K. Starr Excellence in Production and Operations Management Practice Award) which has been awarded every year since 2006.

Other Biographies

Gupta S. & Roth A. V. (2009) Martin K. Starr: A Visionary Proponent for System Integration, Modular Production, and Catastrophe Avoidance. Productions and Operations Management, 16(1): 1-12. (link)

INFORMS. Miser-Harris Presidential Gallery: Martin K. Starr. Accessed February 19, 2015. (link)

University of Florida Warrington College of Business Administration. Martin K. Starr Bio. Accessed June 29, 2018. (link)


Massachusetts Institute of Technology, BS

Columbia University, MS

Columbia University, PhD 1953


Academic Affiliations
Non-Academic Affiliations
  • Center for Enterprise Management

Key Interests in OR/MS

Application Areas

Oral Histories

Martin Starr (2019) Interview by Henrique Correa, May 9. 2019  WinterPark FL. Video by Andrew McIntosh.

NOTE: The video chapter transcripts are searchable, with search results displayed as marks on the time bar above the search box.  Click a mark to jump to the search word or phrase in the video and transcript, or click on any word in the transcript to jump to that point in the video.

Jump to Chapters

Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: The Worldwide Influence of Professor Starr's Work
Chapter 3: Discovering the World of Operations Research and Management
Chapter 4: The Decision to Go to Graduate School
Chapter 5: The Development of a PhD Dissertation Research Topic
Chapter 6: The Making of an Operations Research Consultant
Chapter 7: Early Influences
Chapter 8: On Becoming an Academic and Author in Parallel with Being a Consultant
Chapter 9: The Origin of the Operations Management Discipline at Columbia University Business School
Chapter 10: Contributions to the Field
Chapter 11: Analysis Versus Synthesis and Integrating Production into the Field
Chapter 12: On Synthesis and Interactions with Edwards Deming
Chapter 13: Seminal Work in Inventory Management
Chapter 14: On the Idea of "Marketing Science"
Chapter 15: Seminal Work on Risk Management
Chapter 16: Professional Operations Organizations
Chapter 17: "Disaster/Catastrophe Management"
Chapter 18: Accomplishments and Evolution of OR/OM
Chapter 19: Pedagogical Tips for OR/OM Instructors
Chapter 20: How to Attract Good Students to OR/OM
Chapter 21: The Legacy of Martin Starr

Awards and Honors

George E. Kimball Medal 1983

Sushil K. Gupta POMS Distinguished Service Award 2013

Namesake of the  Martin K. Starr Excellence in Production and Operations Management Award. Accessed August 23, 2018. (link)

Professional Service

Production and Operations Management Society (POMS), President 1995

The Institute of Management Sciences (TIMS), President 1974-1975

Selected Publications

Starr M. K. (1962) Inventory Control: Theory and Practice. Prentice-Hall: Upper Saddle River, NJ.

Starr M. K. (1963) Product Design and Decision Theory. Prentice-Hall: Upper Saddle River, NJ.

Starr M. K. (1964) Production Management: Systems and Synthesis. Prentice-Hall: Englewood Cliffs, NJ. 

Starr M. K. (1965) Modular Production- a new concept. Harvard Business Review, 43(6): 131-142.

Starr M. K. (1966) Planning Models. Management Science, 13(4): B-115 – B-141.

Starr M. K. (1971) The Politics of Management Science. Interfaces, 1(4): 31-37.

Starr M. K. (1971) Management a Modern Approach. Harcourt-Brace: New York, NY.

Starr M. K. (1972) Production Management: Systems and Synthesis. Prentice-Hall: Upper Saddle River, NJ.

Ronen B. & Starr M. K. (1990) Synchronized manufacturing as in OPT: from practice to theory. Computers & Industrial Engineering, 18(4): 585-600.

Gupta, S. and M. K. Starr (2014) Production and Operations Management Systems.  CRC Press (Taylor & Francis), Boca Raton, FL

Starr M. K. and S. K. Gupta, Editors (2017) The Routledge Companion for Production and Operations Management.  Routledge, New York, NY.