Robert Lawrence Kuhn (born 1944, New York) is an international investment banker, corporate strategist, and public intellectual. With a doctorate in brain research and the author or editor of over twenty-five books, he is a media commentator on business, finance, and China; long-time adviser to the Chinese government; and adviser to multinational corporations on China strategies and transactions, and Chinese companies on capital market strategies and opportunities. For over 20 years, he has had relationships with China’s senior leaders, advising on economic policy, mergers and acquisitions, science and technology, media and culture, Sino-U.S. relations, and international communications.
Kuhn is the creator, executive producer, writer and host of the PBS television series Closer To Truth, which presents leading scientists and scholars discussing fundamental issues. The new series of Closer To Truth focuses on Cosmos, Consciousness and God. Closer To Truth can be viewed on PBS and noncommercial TV stations across the country—see CTT Stations.
Robert Kuhn is the author of a new book on China's leaders and process of reform entitledHOW CHINA'S LEADERS THINK: The Inside Story of China's Reform and What This Means for the Future,with editions in English (John Wiley, December 2009) and Chinese (Shanghai Century, December 2008), and featuring first-person accounts from more than 100 past and current minister-level participants and higher, especially China's senior leaders of past, current and future generations. The book stresses President Hu Jintao’s political philosophy and policies. Reports were featured on China Central Television and reported by People's Daily and Xinhua News Agency. Kuhn was the first foreigner to lecture on President Hu’s “Scientific Perspective on Development,” the current overarching policy-directing principle for China. He advised Vice President Xi Jinping on his U.S. visit (when he was Zhejiang Party Secretary, 2006).
Dr. Kuhn is the author of The Man Who Changed China: The Life and Legacy of Jiang Zemin,, an unprecedented biography — the first of a living Chinese leader to be published on the mainland. It tells the inside story of contemporary Chinese history and politics through special access and it was China’s best-selling book in 2005. He is also co-editor in chief of China’s Banking & Financial Markets: The Internal Research Report of the Chinese Government.
Robert Kuhn contributes to the business media, such as CNBC, Bloomberg, BusinessWeek, Forbes and Chief Executive. He is Senior Adviser to China Central Television (CCTV) and the Xinhua News Agenecy; he is Senior International Adviser of Global People magazine, published by People’s Daily. He is the first senior international commentator on China Central Television (CCTV). He is one of the China Visionaries -- international figures who have contributed to China's success -- in the ten-episode television series produced for China’s 60th anniversary by Shanghai Media Group and he was featured on CCTV Channel 1’s Focus Talk.
Kuhn's articles on China’s economic future (“What Will China Look Like in 2035”and “China’s Elite Aims for Stability”) and China’s political future (“Building ‘Intra-Party Democracy’ in China”and “China’s New Roadmap for Political Reform”) are in BusinessWeek; his articles on investment banking are in Chief Executive magazine; and his scientific / philosophical paper "Why This Universe? Toward a Taxonomy of Possible Explanations" is in Skeptic Magazine.
Kuhn structured and is a partner in CCTV-IMG Sports Management Company, a joint venture between China Central Television, the largest television broadcaster in China, and IMG, the global sports, entertainment, and media company.
Dr. Robert L. Kuhn is chairman of The Kuhn Foundation, which he founded and funded to disseminate new knowledge and understanding in science and philosophy, support cultural endeavors, and promote good relations between America and China.
Dr. Robert Lawrence Kuhn first came to prominence in January 1972 when "Why the Vast Difference between Animal Brain and Human Mind?"appeared as a major series of articles in The Plain Truth magazine published by Ambassador College, an institution of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG). The series was promoted by WCG Pastor General Herbert W. Armstrong with advertising in general interest magazines such as Reader's Digest. Earlier, Kuhn had written articles of a spiritual nature in 1971 for another Ambassador College magazine called Tomorrow's World. He then worked for Garner Ted Armstrong by heading his research team for The World Tomorrow television program.
On March 18, 1975 Kuhn and Stanley Rader met with Herbert W. Armstrong at Perino's Restaurant in Los Angeles to launch the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation (AICF). The purpose of AICF was to host a series of concerts featuring leading names in classical music (later jazz, popular music and various forms of dance as well) at the Ambassador Auditorium which had been styled as the "Carnegie Hall" of the West Coast. On September 24, 1975, the AICF season of over sixty concerts, booked and managed by Kuhn, premiered with Luciano Pavarotti, and later, on January 11 and 18, 1976, featured Vladimir Horowitz in his first West Coast performances since 1952.
In addition, AICF published a literary-cultural magazine originally named Human Potential and later renamed Quest, and it promoted high-level visits by Armstrong and Rader to many world leaders styled as Ambassador for World Peace without portfolio. These tours included attempts to promote Middle East peace by facilitating private communications between leaders, and visits to China, which may have had parallels with Kuhn’s later career.
AICF was not without controversy since the church was nominally Christian while Rader and Kuhn were members of Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center, "a synagogue and community center affiliated with the Conservative Movement whose members observe a wide range of Jewish beliefs and practices." As a result a religious backlash was reported, including in Ambassador Report published by dissident members of the WCG.
The Systematic Theology Project (STP,1978, which can be obtained on data disc from www.icg.org.au) states "Garner Ted Armstrong, Executive Vice-President of the Church,(WCG) recognised the need for a more organised, thorough presentation of the Church's doctrines and beliefs, and thus commissioned the present project...Input and contributions were to be sent to STP in care of Robert Kuhn." Since aspects of the STP contradicted Herbert W. Armstrong's prior teachings, he recalled and banned it. A later takeover of the WCG by the Attorney General for the State of California reached the U. S. Supreme Court, but was however ended after Stanley Rader (WCG Chief Counsel), acting on behalf of H. W. Armstrong, successfully lobbied for the passing of the Petris Bill which prohibited such an action by the State against churches. Kuhn severed his connection to the WCG and its affiliated entities. AICF, which Kuhn had created and managed, continued in operation until the death of Herbert W. Armstrong in 1986.
Dr. Kuhn is Senior Adviser at Citigroup Global Investment Banking where he works with major Chinese companies on structuring their capital markets interests and facilitating their merger and acquisition (M&A) activities, and with multinational corporations across the world on formulating and implementing their China strategies and investments (including M&A). In both respects, he works closely with leaders in the Chinese government, in Beijing and in the provinces.
Kuhn is a partner in the China operations of IMG, the sports, entertainment, and media company which is owned by Forstmann Little and run by the legendary investor, Ted Forstmann. In particular, Kuhn, working with Forstmann, structured a ground-breaking joint venture -- "CCTV-IMG Sports Management Company" -- to create, develop and promote world-class sporting events and sports programming across China, including Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau. The joint venture has a 20-year term, is exclusive to IMG and CCTV, and intends to bring the best of world sports to China and take the best of China’s sports to the world. The historic partnership will own and produce a series of live sporting events and television/multimedia programming that will serve as a completely new platform for the sports industry in China following the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
From 1991 to 2001, Dr. Kuhn was president and co-owner of The Geneva Companies, the largest national and most prominent mergers and acquisitions ("M&A") firm representing privately owned, middle-market companies. During this period of his leadership, Geneva initiated and closed over 1,200 M&A transactions and conducted thousands of corporate evaluations. The size of Geneva's M&A transactions ranged widely from low millions to over $500 million, while the range of Geneva's leadership in the American middle market was under $100 million. In 2000, Dr. Kuhn sold The Geneva Companies to Citigroup, and between 2001 and 2005 he was managing director of Smith Barney, a subsidiary of Citigroup, where, in addition to M&A, he worked on liquidity strategies and wealth management for business owners.
During the 1980s, Kuhn represented large Japanese companies (including Mitsui, Long-Term Credit Bank, Sumitomo Trust, and later Nissho Iwai) in the formulation and implementation of their strategic expansion through M&A, the planning of new acquisitions, and the divestiture of problem divisions. He also helped reformulate the business line strategy of Teledyne, Inc., and led the analysis of the acquisitions of Pacific Lumber Company and Kaiser Aluminum Corporation (for Maxxam Group). Kuhn has advised the governments of China, the United States, Germany, and Israel on the commercialization of high technology.
Dr. Kuhn is the author or editor of books and articles on investment banking, including a series on the philosophy, way of thinking and strategies of investment banking and mergers and acquisitions in Chief Executivemagazine.
In 1989 Dr. Kuhn met Dr. Song Jian, Chairman of the State Science and Technology Commission and State Councilor in the administration of former General Secretary Zhao Ziyang. This contact, and subsequent relationships, created the opportunity for Kuhn to become an adviser to the Chinese government (non-paid) in diverse areas such as economic policy, financial policy, mergers and acquisitions, science and technology, culture and cultural exchange, and international communications and media.
Kuhn has worked with the State Science and Technology Commission (now Ministry of Science and Technology); State Council Research Office; State Council Information Office; State Administration of Radio, Film and Television; China Central Television (CCTV); Chinese Academy of Engineering; State Economic and Trade Commission; State Restructuring Commission; State Property Bureau; Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee; Literature Office of the CPC Central Committee; and Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Kuhn is a frequent contributor to the international and domestic media on the subject of China, particularly its economic developments and policies. He is considered an expert on President Hu Jintao’s political philosophy, and his domestic and international policies, including the meaning and implications of "Harmonious Society" and "Harmonious World." He has lectured and been interviewed often on the “Scientific Development Perspective” [‘’Kexue Fazhan Guan’’], which encapsulates President Hu’s overarching policy to seek sets of integrated solutions to complex arrays of economic, social and environmental problems (for example in People's Daily). He is said to be the first foreigner to lecture on the Scientific Development Perspective in China. Between February and August 2005, as media spokesman for China, Kuhn visited nineteen Chinese provinces and thirty two of its cities and met with senior leaders in government and business. Dr. Kuhn is frequently in China, working with senior leaders, ministers and officials in Beijing and Party secretaries and governors in the provinces.
He writes on China for BusinessWeek, such as on China’s economic future (“What Will China Look Like in 2035”and “China’s Elite Aims for Stability”) and China’s political future (“Building ‘Intra-Party Democracy’ in China”and “China’s New Roadmap for Political Reform”).
Dr. Kuhn is Senior International Adviser to Global People magazine, published by People's Daily, the authoritative newspaper of China's ruling Communist Party and central government.
Dr. Kuhn is the author of The Man Who Changed China: The Life and Legacy of Jiang Zemin, a controversial biography of Jiang Zemin that was published by Random House in 2005 in English and several other languages.
The Chinese edition, Ta Gai Bian Le Zhong Guo: Jiang Zemin Zhuan 《他改变了中国：江泽民传》, was published simultaneously by Shanghai Century Publishing Group and became the number one bestselling book in China with sales of over one million and substantial publicityacross the country. Kuhn's book is recognized as the first time that a biography of a living Chinese leader has been published on the Chinese mainland, and stories of its success and influence in China have run in the international press. In an upfront Publisher’s Note to the Chinese edition, Chinese readers are advised, "Certain viewpoints and opinions of the author, as a Westerner, bear a definite distance from those of our own. Hopefully the reader will understand."
Kuhn’s next book in Chinese was the translation of Closer To Truth: Science, Meaning and the Future, on the implications of state-of-the-science in which Kuhn analyzed President Hu’s Scientific Development Perspective in the context of political realities in China, including the ideas and actions of China’s coming generation of senior leaders.
In 2007 John Wiley published China’s Banking & Financial Markets: The Internal Research Report of the Chinese Government,of which Kuhn was co-editor-in-chief. Kuhn developed this book as part of his efforts to increase transparency in China and to bring the real story of China to the world.
Other works by Kuhn in which he was author or editor cover more than twenty five books in business, finance, investment banking, strategy, creativity, and the meaning and implications of state-of-the-art science. Five of his books have been translated into Chinese, including the first investment banking book published on the mainland.
Kuhn has also written many articles. For example, his “Science as Democratizer,” featured in American Scientist magazine, argued how the scientific way of thinking can influence global society. His article “Does God Exist”, on the science-religion debate, appeared in China Daily and other publications in China. His research article "Why This Universe? Toward a Taxonomy of Possible Explanations" is published in the Vol. 13 No. 2 2007 issue of Skeptic Magazine.
Kuhn is now chairman of his own scientific, educational and cultural foundation which builds upon the earlier work of AICF and which also promotes good relations between America and China. The Foundation sponsors cross-cultural symposia between Chinese and American experts, and publications, in finance, media, reform, science, and religion.
The foundation produces a television series for PBS and other public television and noncommercial stations called Closer To Truth which Kuhn also hosts. In his shows Kuhn presents the ideas of scientists and scholars who explore and debate the meaning and implications of leading-edge knowledge relating to brain and mind; biology and medicine; cosmology and astronomy; science and religion; and science and our world.
The current production of Closer To Truth, consisting of over 100 episodes for television broadcast and over 1400 web videos, is structured in three series: Cosmos (cosmology, fundamental physics, philosophy of cosmology and physics, emergence, science and religion), Consciousness (brain, mind, free will, personal identity, alien intelligence, parapsychology), and God (philosophy of religion, philosophical theology, critical thinking). Featured are over 125 of the world's leading scientists, philosophers, scholars and thinkers. Closer to Truth: Cosmos is intended to be the definitive series on cosmology, the philosophy of cosmology, origins of the universe, multiple universes, the far far future, fundamental physics, emergence, and science and religion. Closer to Truth: Consciousness is intended to be the definitive series on brain, mind, essence of consciousness, free will, personal identity, alien intelligence, parapsychology, afterlife, and brain-mind critical thinking. Closer to Truth: God is intended to be the definitive series on understanding deity, philosophy of religion, proofs and attributes of God, God’s involvement in the world, theological futures, and God-related critical thinking.
The Kuhn Foundation has also produced the award-winning film Khachaturian, on the life of the Armenian-Soviet composer, and it won the Best Documentary award at the 2003 Hollywood Film Festival. (Kuhn's wife Dora Serviarian Kuhn is a concert pianist.) The Foundation also created a television program aired on PBS called In Search of China, which Robert Kuhn created and executive produced, and in 2000 Kuhn assisted in the presentation of a series of Chinese arts and cultural exhibitions in New York and ten other U.S. cities sponsored by the Information Office of the State Council of China.
In 1964 Robert Lawrence Kuhn received a bachelor’s degree in human biology from Johns Hopkins University (Phi Beta Kappa); in 1968 a doctorate in anatomy and brain research from the University of California at Los Angeles; and in 1980 an SM (Master of Science) in management from the MIT Sloan School of Management.
Kuhn's teaching and trustee credentials include: adjunct full professor of business and financial strategy at New York University (NYU Stern School of Business); Senior Fellow at the IC2 Institute of the University of Texas at Austin; trustee of Claremont Graduate University. He serves on the Committee on Scientific Freedom and Responsibility of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS;) and he is vice chairman of the new Beijing Institute for Frontier Science and on the editorial board of Frontier Science (Beijing).