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Richard Colignon, Ph.D.


Courses Taught

Economic Sociology; Organizational Theory; Research Methodology; Quantitative Analysis; Health and the Social Sciences


Ph.D. in Sociology, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Research Interests

Colignon's work examines historical and cross-national issues of work, entrepreneurism, and industrial restructuring. His work on entrepreneurial activity has taken two forms: economic history and cross-national comparisons, including work on the economic sociology of Japanese entrepreneurship since the Meiji Restoration. This research analyzed the waves of industrial innovation over the last 100-plus years in Japan and the individuals involved. His earlier work analyzed the origins and institutionalization of the Tennessee Valley Authority and its innovations and impact on the electrical power industry. Later he analyzed the patterns of amakudari (descent from heaven) to key sectors of Japanese society to explain Japan’s growth and stability since WWII.

Colignon has been involved in research on employment and retirement policies in Japan. With the long-term trend toward earlier retirement slowing, and most older workers remaining in employment up to and beyond statutory retirement age. Bridge employment patterns and activities have changed over the past decade. He has been involved in comparative international comprehensive summary of the literature on bridge employment from Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia and Japan.

His more recent work focused on aesthetics and the Japanese culture and history. Work here includes: Madam Butterfly: A Sociological View; A Comparative view of Japanese and Western Aesthetics in flower arrangements; and Japanese Leadership Styles displayed the three unifiers (1467-1600). He participates in local Japanese business and cultural activities, including kamashibai (traditional Japanese story telling), ikebana (Japanese flower arranging), and the annual Japanese Festival in St. Louis.  

He has held positions at Washington University (St. Louis), Duquesne University (Pittsburgh), Tokyo University (Japan as a Fulbright Fellow) and visiting professorships at Essex University (United Kingdom), University of Zurich (Switzerland) and the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Professional Experience

Administrative Initiatives at SLU

2017    Created (with Dr. Vermilion) a Multidisciplinary MA program. Providing a path for Anthropology and other students to obtain an advanced degree. 

2015    Created the Public and Social Policy Ph.D. joint program with Political Science.

2014    Created the Forensic Science major.

2014    Helped create the Graduate Research Methodology Minor. 

2013    Created the Anthropology major.

2010    The Latino Studies certificate program. (Approved through committees).

2009    Created the BA/MA program in Sociology and the JD/MA program in Sociology

2008    Created the MA program in Sociology.

2007    Created the William “Bill” Monahan student award

Publications and Media Placements


2014: Usui, C & Colignon, RA, Japanese Approach to Bridge Jobs, in Bridge Employment: A Research Handbook, eds. Carlos-Maria Alcover, Gabriela Topa, Emma Parry, Franco Fraccaroli, Marco Depolo. Routledge (April).

2012: Usui, C & Colignon, RA, Entrepreneurial Activity in Japan, China and the U.S. Journal of International Business Research and Practice, Vol. 6: 49-61.


2015: Usui, C & Colignon, RA, Bridge Jobs: Solution to job mismatch of older workers in Japan. 28th Annual Conference Program Information Association of Japanese Business Studies, Bengaluru, India. June 26.

2014: Colignon,RA, "Date, Masemune" St. Louis Tohoku, Ishinomaki program, funded by the U.S.-Japan Council's TOMODACHI and coordinated by the National Association of Japan America Societies. June 14.

2013: Usui, C. & Colignon,RA Bridging to full retirement: How is Japan Managing the Aging Work Force? Presentation at the 26th Annual Conference of the Association of Japanese Business Studies, Istanbul, Turkey Washington D.C., July 2-3.

2013: Colignon, RA &Usui, C. Expect to Employ: Growth Oriented Entrepreneurial activity, Presentation at the 26th Annual Conference of the Association of Japanese Business Studies, Istanbul, Turkey Washington D.C., July 2-3.

2013: Colignon, RA & Usui,C Expect to Employ: Growth Oriented Entrepreneurial activity, Presentation the 49th Annual Conference of the Midwest Business Administration Association, Chicago, IL., February 27-29.

2012: Colignon, RA & C. Usui, Institutional Context of Entrepreneurial Processes presentation at the 25th Annual Conference of the Association of Japanese Business Studies, Washington D.C., June 28-30.

2012: Collignon, RA & Usui, C.,Entrepreneurial Activity in Japan, China and the U.S. Presented at the Academy of International Business-Midwest, Chicago, IL.

2011: Colignon, RA & Usui,C., Japan's Entrepreneurial Activity in Comparative Perspective presentation at the 24th Annual Conference of the Association of Japanese Business Studies, Nagoya, Japan, June 26-28.

Honors and Awards

Scholarship Awards and Fellowships 

1997 Choice Outstanding Academic Book Award for 1997.  Power Plays: Critical Events in the Institutionalization of the Tennessee Valley Authority. New York: State University of New York Press. 

1996   The Fulbright Scholar Award (Japan). The Council for International Exchange of Scholars. Tokyo University, 1997-98. Fulbright fellowship to Japan to study the unique bureaucratic network arrangements that provided policy stability over 50 years after WWII. 

1990   Interorganizational Relations for Disaster Preparedness. National Science Foundation (with DF Gillespie as co-principal investigator, April, 1990- January, 1992) ($163, 931). NSF grant to research the organization of disaster preparedness and mitigation in the St. Louis area in the early 1990s.

Teaching Awards and Recognitions

2008  Robert A Johnston, S.J. award for Excellence in Teaching in the College of Arts and Sciences, Saint Louis University.

1995 The Omicron Delta Kappa Society, Inc. The National Leadership Honor Society. Nomination as "Teacher of the Year." Duquesne University.