Gordon received both an A.B. and a Ph.D. from Harvard University. Since 1973, he has lived, taught, and conducted research in Japan for a total of eight years. As professor of history at Duke University, Gordon concentrates his teachings and research interests in the fields of Japanese modern history and the comparative studies of labor. He is currently engaged in a study of labor-management relations in a Japanese steel mill between the end of World War II and the present, and he is preparing a book titled Contest for the Workplace: Workers and Managers in a Japanese Steelmill.