Stephen J Kobrin

Stephen J Kobrin
  • William H. Wurster Emeritus Professor of Multinational Management

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    3205 SH-DH
    3620 Locust Walk
    Philadelphia, PA 19104

Research Interests: global strategy, globalization, impact of the information revolution, international political economy



PhD, University of Michigan, 1975; MBA, University of Pennsylvania, 1961; BMgtE, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1960

Career and Recent Professional Awards; Teaching Awards

Fellow, Academy of International Business

Academic Positions Held

Wharton: 1987-present (Editor, Wharton School Publishing, 2008-present; Director, The Joseph H. Lauder Institute of Management & International Studies, 2006-2007; named William H. Wurster Professor of Multinational Management, 1992; Director, The Joseph H. Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies, 1994-2000; Director, William H. Wurster Center for International Management Studies, 1992-94; Chairperson, Management Department, 1989-92; Anheuser-Busch Term Professor of Management, 1987-92). Previous appointments: New York University; The Conference Board; Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Other Positions

Brand Manager, Procter & Gamble, 1965-71

Professional Leadership

Fellow, World Economic Forum, 1995-present; President, Academy of International Business, 2001-2002

Continue Reading


  • Stephen J Kobrin, “Is a Networked World Economy Sustainable?”. In The Multiple Dimensions of Institutional Complexity (Progress in International Business Research, Vol. 15), edited by A. Verbeke, R.V. Tulder, E.L. Rose, and Y. Wei, (Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing, 2021)

  • Stephen J Kobrin (2020), How Globalization Became a Thing That Goes Bump in the Night, Journal of International Business Policy.

    Abstract: For almost 200 years, globalization has been seen as a positive development, albeit with costs and benefits, and as progress and modernization, a broadening of humanity’s scope from the local and parochial to the cosmopolitan and international. That changed dramatically with the Great Recession, the waves of migration of the last decade, and the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic of 2020. For many, globalization now connotes economic dislocation, increasing inequality, unwanted immigration, and a vehicle for the transmission of disease. The pandemic reminds us that most economic activity takes place within national borders. It has emphasized the dangers rather than the benefits of efficient linkages between markets, laying bare the dangers of complex global supply chains where any node can become a “choke point”, and the risks of overspecialization or the concentration of technological knowledge and/or production capacity in a single country or region. A more positive view of globalization will require restoring the balance between independence and integration, mitigation of its costs within and between countries, and dealing with redundancy and supply risk.

  • Stephen J Kobrin (2019), Make Internationalism Great Again: The AIB in an Age of Populist Nationalism, AIB Insights, 19 (1).

  • Stephen J Kobrin (2017), Bricks and Mortar in a Borderless World: Globalization, the Backlash, and the Multinational Enterprise, Global Strategy Journal, 7 (2).

    Abstract: Globalization, increased interconnectedness, and deep integration resulted in significant increases in trade and FDI from 1989 through 2008. The recession marked the end of that trend and the rise of a broad-based opposition that has economic, social, and political components. This article explores the backlash, arguing that is driven by sociotropic perceptions. While globalization can be explained as a cyclical or structural phenomenon, I argue that technological change results in a networked global economy, the transition from a space of places to a space of flows, and increases the potential cost of devolution to the point where economic independence is no longer feasible. Nonetheless, I conclude that MNCs face a period of prolonged uncertainty and develop implications for firm strategy.


Past Courses


    Managing Globalization and Anti-Globalization provides students with a solid foundation in the economic history of globalization and anti-globalization, the institutions that manage the global economy, and the current challenges these institutions are facing. Students in this class will develop their own worldview about the powerful forces shaping today's international political economy and build a solid foundation for understanding the future of organizational strategy. The first half of the course focuses on the historical trajectory of globalization and learning about the institutions that seek to manage it. The second half of the course explores how institutions manage present-day global governance challenges ranging from global migration, the rise of populist anti-globalization movements, the collapse of communism, and global inequality, to disruptive technologies such as bitcoin. Format: Lectures and discussion structured to encourage maximum student participation. Requirements: midterm and final exam, a final course paper of 10-20 pages and short reaction papers dealing with the readings for the week. Supplemental activities include map quizzes, small group projects, and current events analysis.


    The share of executives, board members, and investment managers who consider climate risk, racial justice and other ESG issues as well as stakeholder's opinions of the firm to be matieral to their business decisions has risen dramatically. If this business case for engagement with stakeholders on ESG issues can be demonstrated to mainstream investors, pools of capital can be mobilized to harness grand societal challenges. However, executives, board members, and investment managers are actually growing less confident in the ESG data available to guide capital allocations and strategic decisions. ESG scores have been demonstrated to be unreliable, incomplete and biased and often lean on outdated an/or incomplete information obtained through voluntary unaudited disclosure. This course provides students the latest tools to assess and map stakeholdr opinions as well as integrate them into financial valuation. It also offers behavioral skills critical for stakeholder engagement including trust building, strategic communications and shaping organizational culture. In short, it prepares students to engage in Corporate Diplomacy (i.e., to influence stakeholders' opinions of the acceptability of a company's operations at a moment in time and to convince stakeholders to adapt their behaviors, systems and outputs when necessary to support an organizational mission).


    All successful firms go global. This course provides a broad introduction to international business. You will learn about who loses and who gains from trade, what are the effects of tariffs and non-tariff barriers, the World Trade Organization (WTO), regional trading blocs, and NAFTA. The course then turns to the international financial architecture, focusing on exchange rate risk. We then move to multinational firm strategies, including a discussion of the reasons for why firms choose to do business globally through trade or FDI, international tax strategy, joint ventures, technology transfer, different ways to be a multinational firm, and ethical dilemmas. The class is a mix of lectures and cases that allow students to synthesize the extensive materials on multinational management, international institutions, economic policies, and politics with a goal towards formulating multinational firm strategy.


    ASP topics can be individually selected by the student with the advice and consent of any instructor in the management Department. All ASP registrations require the written consent of the instructor and appropriate course and section number on the registration form. If the student has the instructor's written permission, he/she is not required to obtain written consent from the Department. Students, however, should send an email to to request the course and section numbers

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Latest Research

Stephen J Kobrin, “Is a Networked World Economy Sustainable?”. In The Multiple Dimensions of Institutional Complexity (Progress in International Business Research, Vol. 15), edited by A. Verbeke, R.V. Tulder, E.L. Rose, and Y. Wei, (Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing, 2021)
All Research

In the News

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Greatly Missed

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Wharton Magazine - 04/20/2012