ALBERT MORRIS CHAMMAH
Professor Albert Morris Chammah passed away peacefully on January 24, 2008, after a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease. He was born on August 18, 1928, in Aleppo, Syria. He was the first child of Moise Albert Chammah and Zekieh Kamayeh. He came to the United States in 1947 to study industrial engineering at Syracuse University. After graduation in 1951, he studied industrial and labor relations at Cornell University and earned a Ph.D. in social and mathematical psychology in 1969 from the University of Michigan. He is survived by his widow, Lorraine, and son, Maurice, an undergraduate student at Cornell University.
Professor Chammah’s career included positions as a research mathematical psychologist at the University of Michigan’s Mental Health Research Institute and as a communication scientist at Cornell’s Aeronautical Labs in Buffalo, New York. In the early part of his career he was a human factors engineer at General Electric Advanced Electronic Center, and he also served with Military Intelligence in the U.S. Army. In 1976, he held an appointment as visiting professor of sociology and anthropology at Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel. During 1971-72 he was a visiting professor of psychology in management at the Institut d’Administration des Entreprises at the University of Aix-Marseilles in Aix-en-Provence, France. A peace-loving man, he was invited to teach at the International School of Disarmament in Italy. He served a term from 1969-1972 as associate editor of the Journal of Conflict Resolution.
Professor Chammah retired from The University of Texas in 1998 after 29 years of service. During most of his period of service, he held a joint appointment in the Department of Management in the McCombs School of Business and Department of Psychology. In the last years of his career he held a joint appointment in the Department of Management and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. He taught courses on cross-cultural management, interpersonal and inter-group conflict, and on interpersonal dynamics. He had a particular interest in the Middle East, and for three years he served as the graduate advisor for the Center of Middle Eastern Studies.
Professor Chammah is renowned internationally for the acclaimed book Prisoner’s Dilemma, coauthored with Anatol Rapaport. A key finding emphasized in this book is a general strategy of interaction for iterated prisoner's dilemma games, which they called “Tit-for-Tat.” In essence, this is a strategy based on the combined principles of cooperativeness (“goodwill”), retaliation, and forgiveness. This result corroborates the biblical prophecy that “the meek… shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5.5). This pioneering work on conflict and cooperation as well as his further cross-cultural research on conflict resulted in his election as the first American fellow of the prestigious French Psychological Association.
Professor Chammah was fluent in three languages and able to understand several others. He traveled widely meeting new people, immersing himself in different cultures, and acquiring lasting friendships. This experience was shared with his students in a graduate seminar on the topic of multi-cultural management. He will be remembered for his gentility, curiosity, and the joy with which he embraced life.
William Powers Jr., President
The University of Texas at Austin
Sue Alexander Greninger, Secretary
The General Faculty
This memorial resolution was prepared by a special committee consisting of Professors James Fitzsimmons (chair), James Dyer, and Abraham Marcus.