Carlson was a Swedish national who graduated from Stockholm School of Economics in 1932 and received a PhD from Chicago University in 1936. He had a prolonged academic career and held several posts with the United Nations, UNESCO and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
He was on the Nobel committee for the prize in economics from 1972-79, and wrote many books and articles related to his discipline.
In his book Executive Behaviour (1952), he described how difficult the job of CEO was, based upon a cross-section of 12 CEOs from sizeable to large private and public organisations in Sweden. Their main problem was to preserve time to carry out the function they were engaged for, which was to make strategic decisions.
He even had difficulty defining when an executive was working, and pondered the question: did it include thinking on a Sunday morning walk?