Peter Cappelli

Peter Cappelli
  • George W. Taylor Professor
  • Professor of Management
  • Director, Center for Human Resources

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    2205 SH-DH
    3620 Locust Walk
    Philadelphia, PA 19104

Research Interests: human resource practices, public policy related to employment, talent and performance management

Links: CV, Center for Human Resources, Talent on Demand

Overview

Peter Cappelli is the George W. Taylor Professor of Management at The Wharton School and Director of Wharton’s Center for Human Resources.  He is also a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, MA, served as Senior Advisor to the Kingdom of Bahrain for Employment Policy from 2003-2005, and since 2007 is a Distinguished Scholar of the Ministry of Manpower for Singapore.  He has degrees in industrial relations from Cornell University and in labor economics from Oxford where he was a Fulbright Scholar. He has been a Guest Scholar at the Brookings Institution, a German Marshall Fund Fellow, and a faculty member at MIT, the University of Illinois, and the University of California at Berkeley. He was a staff member on the U.S. Secretary of Labor’s Commission on Workforce Quality and Labor Market Efficiency from 1988-’90, Co-Director of the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center on the Educational Quality of the Workforce, and a member of the Executive Committee of the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center on Post-Secondary Improvement at Stanford University.  Professor Cappelli has served on three committees of the National Academy of Sciences and three panels of the National Goals for Education.  He was recently named by HR Magazine as one of the top 5 most influential thinkers in management and was elected a fellow of the National Academy of Human Resources.  He received the 2009 PRO award from the International Association of Corporate and Professional Recruiters for contributions to human resources.  He serves on Global Agenda Council on Employment for the World Economic Forum and a number of advisory boards.

Professor Cappelli’s recent research examines changes in employment relations in the U.S. and their implications.  These publications include The New Deal at Work: Managing the Market-Driven Workforce, which examines the decline in lifetime employment relationships, Talent Management: Managing Talent in an Age of Uncertainty, which outlines the strategies that employers should consider in developing and managing talent (named a “best business book” for 2008 by Booz-Allen), and The India Way: How India’s Top Business Leaders are Revolutionizing Management (with colleagues), which describes a mission-driven and employee-focused approach to strategy and competitiveness.  His 2010 book Managing the Older Worker (with Bill Novelli) dispels myths about older workers and describes how employers can best engage them. Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs (2012) identifies shortfalls with current hiring practices and training practices and has been excerpted in Time Magazine (online) and reviewed in the Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, and most major business publications.  Related work on managing retention, electronic recruiting, and changing career paths appears in the Harvard Business Review.

Relevant websites

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Research

  • Michael Useem, Harbir Singh, Peter Cappelli, Jitendra Singh (2015), Indian Business Leadership: Broad Mission and Creative Value, The Leadership Quarterly .

  • Peter Cappelli and JR Keller (2014), Talent management: Conceptual approaches and practical challenges, Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior , 1.

    Abstract: he challenges associated with managing talent in modern labor markets are a constant source of discussion among academics and practitioners, but the literature on the subject is sparse and has grown somewhat haphazardly. We provide an overview of the literature on talent management—a body of work that spans multiple disciplines—as well as a clear statement as to what defines talent management. The new themes in contemporary talent management focus on (a) the challenge of open labor markets, including issues of retention as well as the general challenge of managing uncertainty, (b) new models for moving employees across jobs within the same organization, and (c) strategic jobs for which investments in talent likely show the greatest return. We review the conceptual and practical literature on these topics, outline the evolution of talent management over time, and present new topics for future research.

  • Peter Cappelli and Monica Hamori (2013), Who Says Yes When the Headhunter Calls? Understanding Executive Job Search, Organization Science, forthcoming. (NBER Working Paper 19295).

    Abstract: We examine an aspect of job search in the important context of executive-level jobs using a unique data set from a prominent executive search firm.  Specifically, we observe whether or not executives pursue offers to be considered for a position at other companies.  The fact that the initial call from the search firm, which we observe, is an exogenous event for the executive makes the context particularly useful. We use insights from the Multi-Arm Bandit problem to analyze the individual’s decision as it emphasizes assessments of future prospects in the decision process, which are particularly relevant for executive careers.  More than half the executives we observe were willing to be a candidate for a job elsewhere. Executives are more likely to search where their current roles are less certain and where their career experience has been broader.  Search is more likely even for broader experience within the same employer. In the latter case, the array of likely opportunities is also broader, making search more useful.

  • Peter Cappelli and JR Keller (2013), Classifying work in the new economy, Academy of Management Review, 38 (4), pp. 1-22.

    Abstract: Alternatives to the archetypal model of full-time, regular employment are now both prevalent and wide-ranging. Over a fifth of US workers, and even more globally, now perform economic work under arrangements that differ from full-time, regular employment. Yet most of our management and social science notions about economic work are based on the full-time employment model. We know relatively little about the operation and consequences of alternatives arrangements in part because while these arrangements vary considerably, they are commonly grouped together for research purposes using existing classification systems. We outline an inclusive classification system that distinguishes clearly between employment and its alternatives.  It also distinguishes among the alternatives themselves by grouping work arrangements into categories that share common properties and that are distinct from each other in ways that matter for practice and for research. The classification system is based on distinctions about the sources and extent of control over the work process, the contractual nature of the work relationship, and the parties involved in the work relationship. Our classification system is both informed by and reflects the legal distinctions among these categories. We explore implications of our system for research and theory development.

  • Peter Cappelli and JR Keller (2013), A study of the extent and potential causes of alternative employment arrangements, Industrial & Labor Relations Review, 6 (4), pp. 874-901.

    Abstract: The notion of regular, full-time employment as one of the defining features of the U.S. economy has been called into question in recent years by the apparent growth of alternative or “nonstandard” arrangements – part-time work, temporary help, independent contracting, and other arrangements. Identifying the extent of these arrangements, whether they are increasing, and where they occur is the first step for understanding their implications for the economy and the society. But this has been difficult to do because of the lack of appropriate data. We present estimates of the extent of these practices based on a national probability sample of U.S. establishments, evidence on changes in their use over time, and analyses that help us begin to understand why they are used.

  • Peter Cappelli, Strategic Talent Management: Contemporary Issues in an International Context (Cambridge University Press, 2013)

  • JR Keller and Peter Cappelli, “A supply chain approach to talent management”. In Strategic Talent Management: Contemporary Issues in International Context, edited by Paul Sparrow, Hugh Scullion, Ibraiz Tarique, (Cambridge University Press, 2012)

  • Peter Cappelli, Strategic Talent Management: Contemporary Issues in an International Context (Cambridge University Press, 2012)

  • Peter Cappelli, Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs: The Skill Gap and What Companies Can Do About It (Wharton Digital Press, 2012)

  • Peter Cappelli (2011), HR Sourcing Decisions and Risk Management, Organizational Dynamics, 40, pp. 310-316.

Teaching

Past Courses

  • INSP398 - SENIOR THESIS

    The senior thesis course is a capstone for seniors in the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business. Students in the Huntsman Program should consult with the Huntsman Program advisors for more information.

  • LGST806 - NEGOTIATIONS

    This course examines the art and science of negotiation, with additional emphasis on conflict resolution. Students will engage in a number of simulated negotiations ranging from simple one-issue transactions to multi-party joint ventures. Through these exercises and associated readings, students explore the basic theoretical models of bargaining and have an opportunity to test and improve their negotiation skills. Cross-listed with MGMT 691/OIDD 691/LGST 806. Format: Lecture, class discussion, simulation/role play, and video demonstrations. Materials: Textbook and course pack.

  • MGMT248 - HOW TO BE THE BOSS

    Despite the press accounts about the "gig" economy, the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates that about 92 percent of the people working in the US are employees who are supervised by someone. That figure has remained roughly the same for decades. The term "supervisor" is sometimes used for the first-level of supervision in an organization, but in fact that role - and indeed the title � goes all the way up to the very top of any employer organization. Even CEO's are the supervisor of their direct reports. When people talk about their "boss," they almost always are referring to the person who supervises them. Stepping into a supervisor position is challenging, exceptionally so the first time. Thattime comes relatively soon for Wharton grads. Undergrads pursuing consulting jobs typically find themselves supervising new hires by their third year, those working for corporations find themselves in those roles even sooner. Roughly three-quarters of our MBA students report that they had been required to supervise subordinates after college and before arriving here. In this class, we examine the role of the supervisor and the unique tasks associated with performing that role. We pay special attention to the unique challenges of taking on that role for the first time.

  • MGMT398 - MANAGING AND MOTIVATING

    People are the most valuable asset of any business, but they are also the most unpredictable, and the most difficult, asset to manage. And although managing people well is critical to the health of any organization, most managers don't get the training they need to make good management decisions. Now, award-winning authors and renowned management Professors Mike Useem and Peter Cappelli of the Wharton School have designed this course to introduce you to the key elements of managing people. Based on their popular course at Wharton, this course will teach you how to motivate individual performance and design reward systems, how to design jobs and organize work for high performance, how to make good and timely management decisions, and how to design and change the your organization's architecture. By the end of this course, you'll have developed the skills you need to start motivating, organizing, and rewarding people in your organization so that you can thrive as a business and as a social organization. This course can also only be applied towards unrestricted electives at the undergraduate level.

  • MGMT612 - MANAGING EMERG ENTRPRSE

    This course is about managing during the early stages of an enterprise, when the firm faces the strategic challenge of being a new entrant in the market and the organizational challenge of needing to scale rapidly. The enterprises of interest in this course have moved past the purely entrepreneurial phase and need to systematically formalize strategies and organizational processes to reach maturity and stability, but they still lack the resources of a mature firm. The class is organized around three distinct but related topics that managers of emerging firms must consider: strategy, human and social capital, and global strategy.

  • MGMT691 - NEGOTIATIONS

    This course examines the art and science of negotiation, with additional emphasis on conflict resolution. Students will engage in a number of simulated negotiations ranging from simple one-issue transactions to multi-party joint ventures. Through these exercises and associated readings, students explore the basic theoretical models of bargaining and have an opportunity to test and improve their negotiation skills. Cross-listed with MGMT 691/OIDD 691/LGST 806. Format: Lecture, class discussion, simulation/role play, and video demonstrations. Materials: Textbook and course pack.

  • MGMT748 - HOW TO BE THE BOSS

    Despite the press accounts about the "gig" economy, the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates that about 92 percent of the people working in the US are employees who are supervised by someone. That figure has remained roughly the same for decades. The term "supervisor" is sometimes used for the first-level of supervision in an organization, but in fact that role - and indeed the title - goes all the way up to the very top of any employer organization. Even CEO's are the supervisor of their direct reports. When people talk about their "boss," they are almost always referring to the person who supervises them. Supervisors are the central actors in accomplishing work tasks, especially in projects where they also have autonomy over what is done and how it is done. They have an extraordinary amount of power and influence over their direct reports and considerable responsibility toward them. There is considerable truth to the aphorism that people quit bosses, not organizations, as employee dissatisfaction with supervisors rates as one of the leading causes of turnover. There is little doubt that a bad boss can make the life of a subordinate miserable, while a good boss can do the opposite, i.e. improving job design to make work more motivating, providing support during difficult periods of learning new tasks and facing performance pressures, helping chart a career path, and mentoring in organizational realities. Being a supervisor is not the same as leading a team of peers. Supervisors have formal authority over subordinates that we never have with peers. Supervisors also have decisions they cannot delegate, and are personally accountable for them. Stepping into a supervisor position is challenging, especially so when it comes with a promotion in the same organization having to manage direct reports who were peers. In this class, we examine the role of the supervisor and the unique tasks associated with performing that role. Supervisors have authority, both given to them by the organization and by law. They also have obligations to subordinates backed by law. Legal obligations differ across countries although most of them are similar across common law countries. The important tasks they must perform include: -Hiring their subordinates -Assigning work to them -Directing that work (telling them how to do it) -Assessing that performance and rewarding it with merit pay and other compensation -Improve performance and deal with struggling workers -Dealing with disruptive and problem employees -Develop subordinates' skills and help manage their career -Helping subordinates "fight fires", i.e. deal with day-to-day problems that subordinates confront in their own work. In contrast to earlier periods in business history, individuals are now likely to move into supervisory roles without any training from their employer. This class fills that practical concern as well as addresses the unique conceptual issues associated with having formal authority.

  • MGMT798 - MANAGING AND MOTIVATING

    People are the most valuable asset of any business, but they are also the most unpredictable, and the most difficult, asset to manage. And although managing people well is critical to the health of any organization, most managers don't get the training they need to make good management decisions. Now, award-winning authors and renowned management Professors Mike Useem and Peter Cappelli of the Wharton School have designed this course to introduce you to the key elements of managing people. Based on their popular course at Wharton, this course will teach you how to motivate individual performance and design reward systems, how to design jobs and organize work for high performance, how to make good and timely management decisions, and how to design and change the your organization's architecture. By the end of this course, you'll have developed the skills you need to start motivating, organizing, and rewarding people in your organization so that you can thrive as a business and as a social organization. This course can also only be applied towards unrestricted electives at the undergraduate level.

  • MGMT799 - SPECIAL TOPICS ADV ENT

    Designed both for students who are interested in entrepreneurship immediately, and those that want to develop a set of skills for the future, MGMT 799/198 is an experiential class designed to give you basic familiarity with a variety of approaches to launching a new ventures, and to build your own personal ability to launch new ventures. Building on the skills of Management 230/801, every week is built around an experience where you have to put learning into practice, combined with a mix of renowned guest lecturers offering expert advice. By the end of the class, you should have basic familiarity with what would be required to launch a business in multiple industry areas (services, hardware, retail, food, software) as well as producing a final project that highlights what you have learned. We will use concepts from Management 230/801 as we develop the final project. MGMT 230 for undergraduates and MGMT 801 for MBAs are strongly suggested prerequisites.

  • MGMT816 - BLDG. HUM ASSETS

    The success of entrepreneurial endeavors depends, even more so than in larger more bureaucratic organizations, on the ability to locate and manage talent effectively. Specifically, on the need to find the right people and keep them engaged in working on the organization's goals. We focus in this course on leading, building, and maintaining human assets in start-up and small, growing operations. The course is designed with several key components, these are: conceptual and practical readings relevant to the topic; case studies illustratng key concepts and issues; lecture on practical application and examples; and lastly every class will also feature a presentation by and conversation with an outside expert whose work is relevant to guiding or advising start-ups and fast-growing small firms. We will focus on the following objectives: identifying the talent needed to initiate and sustain an entrepreneurial endeavor; structuring human resource policies and corporate culture to prepare for and facilitate firm growth; assessing the human aspects of valuing entrepreneurial companies; and responding to conflict and organizational threats within nascent firms. This course will apply recent research from strategic human resource management, personnel economics and organizational behavior to the practical issues of building and managing human assets in new ventures. Format: Case discussion, guest speakers and lectures, active class participation, final project Enrollment limited to MBA students only.

  • MGMT892 - ADV STUDY-ORGAN EFFECT

    Business success is increasingly driven by a firm's ability to create and capture value through innovation. Thus, the processes used by firms to develop innovations, the choices they make regarding how to commercialize their innovations, the changes they make to their business models to adapt to the dynamic environment, and the strategies they use to position and build a dominate competitive position are important issues facing firms. In MGMT. 892, you will learn to address these issues through an action learning approach. MGMT. 892 is a 1.0-credit course conducted in the spirit of an independent study. By working on consulting projects for leading global companies, you will develop and then apply your knowledge about innovation management and help these firms better understand the challenges and opportunities posed by emerging technologies and markets.

  • MGMT918 - PERSONNEL ECONOMICS A

    This is a half-semester PhD course in the Management Department that is also open to any current PhD students at Wharton. The canonical model in economics views an agent as a fully rational, atomistic individual making optimal choices under scarcity. This approach has been very powerful theoretically and empirically to explain and to predict behavior in the workplace. This model has also been enriched to accommodate other phenomena arguably affecting behavior in the workplace like the social context (e.g. peer effects, altruism, or social comparison), non-standard time preferences, loss aversion, and cognitive costs. Incorporating these ideas into the standard model can be accomplished in various ways but the real stress test for these theories is whether they predict behavior more generally (i.e. we don't just use theory to explain one choice but choices more generally) and to generate empirical predictions that can be tested using experiments. In this mini-course we start-off with a tour de force of the fundamental principal-agent model and the various behavioral extensions. The core of the course is, however, not theoretical but a practical course on how to design field experiments to test these ideas.

  • MGMT920 - SEM IN HUM RES RESEARCH

    The class is organized around understanding labor and work. For management students trained in social science disciplines, there is a considerable gap between what we can learn about the workplace from economics, which relies on markets and incentives for its explanations, and psychology, which relies on dispositional attributes and social interactions. Managing people is arguably the biggest topic in the social sciences each with its own subgroups: labor economists in economics, I/O and personnel psychologists in psychology and organizational behavior researches use the work place as their central research context, work and occupations and career students in sociology. For the most part, these fields talk past each other and are largely unaware of what the others are doing. We try to bridge that gap a bit in this class, although by no means do we attempt to span the range of topics represented across these quite different fields. In most contexts, the employer has considerable discretion as to the arrangements that are chosen for influencing the behavior of workers and, in turn, their outcomes and subsequent attitudes. The management practices they choose are our main focus. They drive many of the most important outcomes in society - who gets access to the most important and powerful jobs, how much income will people have and how it is distributed, whether and to what extent we have control over our lives at work, and so forth. Most of the attention still goes to employment, but it is not the only arrangement for doing work, though. We consider others, especially various forms of contracting and the gig work organized around electronic platforms. To the extent that there is a common conceptual orientation across the class, it is analysis at the organization-level, typically used for independent variables although often for outcomes and dependent variables as well, and power as a mechanism. Many of the most important and exciting topics in public discourse are in our focus, from remote work to gig work to the influence of artificial intelligence. The range of new issues to explore is enormous. A caveat: the phrase "human resources" is a contemporary business term that began as a description of the set of management practices coming out of the "great corporations" and the lifetime employment model for managing non-union employees. Many of these are within the domain of I/O and personnel psychology, such as employee selection tests, succession planning exercises, and so forth. The use of these practices has declined dramatically and are now only one approach to addressing the practical problems that lie behind them. We describe these systems, but the class is not about them. This is not a class that will teach you personnel practices.

  • MGMT953 - SEM RESEARCH DESIGN

    This is an introductory doctoral seminar on research methods in management. The course is designed to help you define your research interests, to strengthen your grasp of research design choices and standards, and to move you further along on the path to becoming a skilled, accomplished, engaged, and independent research scholar. We will read about, discuss, and in some cases practice: framing of research questions, writing for publication, defining and meeting research standards, and conducting experimental, archival, survey-based, and qualitative research suitable for publication in top-tier management journals.

  • OIDD691 - NEGOTIATIONS

    This course examines the art and science of negotiation, with additional emphasis on conflict resolution. Students will engage in a number of simulated negotiations ranging from simple one-issue transactions to multi-party joint ventures. Through these exercises and associated readings, students explore the basic theoretical models of bargaining and have an opportunity to test and improve their negotiation skills. Cross-listed with MGMT 691/OIDD 691/LGST 806. Format: Lecture, class discussion, simulation/role play, and video demonstrations. Materials: Textbook and course pack.

Awards and Honors

  • Ranked fifth on HR Most Influential 2012 Top 20 International Thinkers, 2012
  • Member, World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Employment, 2012-2014
  • HR Magazine’s list of top international thinkers, 2011
  • Core teaching Award WEMBA East, 2011
  • Received 2009 PRO award from International Association of Corporate and Professional Recruiters for contributions to human resources, 2009
  • Member of Business Roundtable “Springboard” Commission of Workforce Training & Development, 2009
  • Distinguished Visitor Board, Ministry of Manpower, 2008-2012
  • Elected a Fellow of the National Academy of Human Resources, 2003
  • Named by Vault.com in 2001 as one of the 25 most important people working in the area of human capital, 2001

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Latest Research

Michael Useem, Harbir Singh, Peter Cappelli, Jitendra Singh (2015), Indian Business Leadership: Broad Mission and Creative Value, The Leadership Quarterly .
All Research

In the News

How Contractors Can Successfully Manage from the Outside

Contractors are outsiders who don’t have the social capital needed to be effective managers, but new research from Wharton’s Peter Cappelli shows how they are leveraging their outsider status for the win.

Knowledge @ Wharton - 7/20/2021
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Which Perks Matter Most to Employees?
Wharton Magazine - 04/17/2020

Wharton Stories

Mino ConsultantsA First-Year Wharton MBA Team Won ELC’s 2019 National Business Case Competition

On April 9, Angie Gonzalez, WG’20, Kaila Squires, WG’20, Mallory Smith, WG’20, and team captain Oluwayimika (Yinka) Taiwo-Peters, WG’20 competed in the Executive Leadership Council’s (ELC) 2019 National Business Case Competition. The team won first place, receiving a $35,000 cash award and an invitation to The Executive Leadership Council’s Annual Recognition…

Wharton Stories - 05/28/2019
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