Originally trained as a structural engineer (with a Master's from the University of Melbourne), Robert completed a PhD in economics at Stanford. He was a founding faculty member at the Australian Graduate School of Management, where he taught economics, game theory, and ethics from 1977 to 2006, when it was dissolved.
Since then he has been a professor (full, visitor, and emeritus) of economics at UNSW, and latterly a professorial fellow at his alma mater, involved with the Centre for Ethical Leadership. For thirteen years he was the General Editor of the Australian Journal of Management.
His research interests range from energy and environmental policy, drugs policy, to oligopolistic behaviour and the validation of simulation models. He has been involved in many consulting projects with private and government bodies. In 1997 an entry of his won the Second M.I.T. Competitive Strategy Tournament. He presented the Fourth Herbert Simon Seminar Series, on Agent-Based Computational Economics and Market Design, in Taiwan in 2005.