John Paul MacDuffie

John Paul MacDuffie
  • Professor of Management

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    3105 SH-DH
    3620 Locust Walk
    Philadelphia, PA 19104

Research Interests: vehicle and mobility innovations, flexible/lean production systems, collaborative problem-solving, determinants of location decisions, diffusion of management practices, links between corporate strategy and high-performance work systems, managing people over distance, organizational learning, product, organizational, and industry architecture

Links: CV


Prof. MacDuffie’s research examines vehicle and mobility innovations; the diffusion of lean or flexible production as an alternative to mass production; the impact of human resource systems and work organization on economic performance; collaborative problem-solving within and across firms; the impact of distance on managing human and social capital; the relationship between product and organizational architecture; and how the interaction of strategic choices with industry structure affects competitive dynamics and industry evolution.

Prof. MacDuffie’s global research on the determinants of high-performance manufacturing is featured centrally in the books The Machine That Changed the World and After Lean Production: Evolving Employment Practices in the World Auto Industry. His publications can be found in top academic journals across a wide range of domains, including Global Strategy Journal, Human Relations, Industrial and Corporate Change, Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Journal of International Business Studies, Journal of Operations Management, Management Science, Organization Studies, Production and Operations Management, and Strategic Management Journal, and also in practitioner-oriented journals such as California Management Review and Harvard Business Review.

Prof. MacDuffie’s commentaries on the global automotive industry and trends in employment systems are featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Bloomberg Business Week, Fortune, and on National Public Radio and Knowledge@Wharton. He is a founding board member and current President of the Industry Studies Association, co-curator of the Automotive Transformation Map of the World Economic Forum, and a former member of the Automotive Experts Group at the Federal Reserve Bank.

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  • Erica L. Groshen, Susan Helper, John Paul MacDuffie, Charles Carson (2018), Preparing U.S. Workers and Employers for an Autonomous Vehicle Future,.

  • Michael Jacobides, John Paul MacDuffie, Jennifer C. Tae (2016), Agency, Structure, and the Dominance of OEMs: Change and Stability in the Automotive Sector, Strategic Management Journal, 37 (9), pp. 1942-1967.

  • Merieke Stevens, John Paul MacDuffie, Susan Helper (2015), Reorienting and Recalibrating Inter-organizational Relationships: Strategies for Achieving Optimal Trust, Organization Studies, 36 (9), pp. 1237-1264.

    Abstract: Drawing upon longitudinal, dyadic, comparative case-based research, we analyze the pursuit of optimal trust, i.e. trust that is neither excessive nor insufficient, by introducing the concepts of reorientation and recalibration. First, we show that large deviations from optimal trust are best addressed by reorientation which deals with both too much as well as too little trust. Reorientation processes include substantial efforts to change parties’ attributions of the intentions underlying past behavior, to reestablish social equilibrium among the parties, and to make structural changes via adjustments to goals and incentives. Reorientation is necessary when imbalance occurs in the powerful and opposed forces associated with excessive trust (faith, favoritism, contentment, loyalty) vs insufficient trust (skepticism, impartiality, exigency, opportunism). Second, we demonstrate that there is an effective path to maintaining optimal trust via practices we call recalibration, wherein small deviations are addressed before damage to trust occurs. Recalibration maintains inter-organizational trust near its optimum through processes that proactively balance the opposed forces. Large deviations from optimal trust in either direction can unleash destabilizing dynamics, requiring significant reorientation efforts to offset. Recalibration processes are then essential for preserving the effects of successful reorientation.

  • Anja Schulze, John Paul MacDuffie, Florian Taube (2015), Knowledge Generation and Innovation Diffusion in the Global Automotive Industry: Change and Stability During Turbulent Times, Industrial and Corporate Change, 24 (3), pp. 603-611.

  • John Paul MacDuffie (2013), Modularity-as-Property, Modularization-as-Process, and ‘Modularity’-as-Frame: Product Architecture Initiatives in the Global Auto Industry, Global Strategy Journal, 3, pp. 8-40.

    Abstract: Modularity is a design property of the architecture of products, organizations, and interfirm networks; modularization is a process that affects those designs while also shaping firm boundaries and industry landscapes; and ‘modularity’ is a cognitive frame that guides categorization and interpretation of a wide array of economic phenomena. Modularity-as-property and modularization-as-process are deeply intertwined; while modularization processes are ubiquitous and perpetual as engineers and managers seek to understand interdependencies across the boundaries of product and organizational architecture, the extent to which modularity-as-property is achieved must be assessed empirically. The framing of ‘modularity’ affects strategy by prompting a particular dynamic—and directionality—in the interplay between modularity-as-property and modularization-as-process. I analyze product architecture initiatives in the global automotive industry, examining first the industry-level antecedents of the emergent production-based definition of modules and then two firm-level modularity initiatives that both were based on this common definition, but framed their strategies differently. In the first case, a ‘modularity’ frame based on a computer industry analogy resulted in overemphasis on achieving modularity-as-property that created barriers to learning about cross-module interdependencies. In the second case, early emphasis on modularization-as process yielded quasi-integrated organizational arrangements that facilitated long-term design improvements. Overall, this single-industry case study demonstrates the importance of examining the context-specific antecedents of module definition; the multiplicity of potential barriers to modularity that can lead to persistent integrality; the need for longitudinal inquiry into the ‘mirroring’ hypothesis that pays as much attention to process as to property; and the power of modularity as a cognitive frame, which helps explain divergent findings in modularity research. Copyright © 2013 Strategic Management Society.

  • Michael Jacobides and John Paul MacDuffie (2013), How to Drive Value Your Way, Harvard Business Review.

  • Harry C. Katz, John Paul MacDuffie, Frits K. Pil, “Crisis and Recovery in the U.S. Auto Industry: Tumultuous Times for a Collective Bargaining Pacesetter”. In Collective Bargaining Under Duress: Case Studies of Major North American Industries, edited by Howard R Stanger, Paul F Clark, Ann C Frost, (Ithaca, NY: ILR Press, 2013)

  • John Paul MacDuffie (2011), Inter-organizational trust and the dynamics of distrust, Journal of International Business Studies, 42(1): 35-47.

    Abstract: Early research on inter-organizational trust drew on theories about social ties among individuals, for example, duration of ties and amount of interaction, yet these proved inadequate to explain the diverse arrangements arising in international business. Dyer and Chu’s award-winning JIBS paper demonstrated that trust was best predicted by organizational processes that developed positive expectations of predictability, reliability, and competence, not only within national boundaries but also in cross-national relationships. This review of recent trust research building on Dyer and Chu draws attention to six themes: (1) new conceptualizations that explore identity, roles, and rules as foundations of presumptive trust at the organizational level; (2) dynamics of trust and distrust over time, how violations of trust are interpreted, and what affects ease of repair; (3) pendulum swings in inter-organizational relationships, arising from plural governance and alternation between modes, but also resulting in the continuous coexistence of positive and negative states; (4) the impact of intra-organizational conflict and inter-organizational coalitions on the establishment and maintenance of trust; (5) the relative impact of nation-level vs organization-level differences in culture as influences on trust; and (6) whether intermediate modes of exchange in between transactional and relational modes are unstable, transitional hybrids or embody complementarities that yield both value and stability.

  • John Paul MacDuffie, K. Jaewon, F. K. Pil (2010), Employee Voice and Organizational Performance: Team vs. Representative Influence, Human Relations, 63(3): 371-394.

    Abstract: This article explores the effects of team voice and worker representative voice, as well as their interaction, on labor productivity. We examine team voice in terms of team influence on key work-related issues and representative voice via the degree of worker representatives’ influence on multiple collective voice issues. We thus build on the European tradition of examining both direct and indirect voice and their implications for valued organizational outcomes. We find that neither type of voice bears a significant relationship to labor productivity when examined solely but that team voice significantly contributes to enhanced worker efficiency when considered in conjunction with representative voice. In examining the interaction of the two types of voice, we find that a combination of low team and low representative voice leads to inferior labor efficiency compared to other conditions. We also find a negative interaction between team voice and worker representative voice, supporting an interpretation that these types of voice do not complement each other with respect to worker productivity. The positive impact of each type of voice is significantly stronger at low levels of the other type of voice.

  • John Paul MacDuffie and Takahiro Fujimoto (2010), Get Ready for the Complexity Revolution: Why Automakers Will Keep Ruling the Auto Industry, Harvard Business Review.


Past Courses


    Technology is changing the workplace, as it has since the Industrial Revolution, but now in new ways that can both enhance human capabilities and threaten to replace them. In the first module "Technology, Operations, and Strategy," we will look at how firms utilize human labor under different strategies and production paradigms, plus past and current approaches to automation (replacing labor) and outsourcing (moving where work is done). In the second module "Technology and Managing People," we'll examine how traditional practices of managing people are being transformed by new technologies that give managers new ways to enact control and induce commitment, while also giving individuals with high levels of human capital ("talent") new sources of leverage in negotiating the employment contract and new opportunities to acquire skills and construct a career path across firms. Take this course if you are fascinated by the intersection of the social (individuals and organizations) and the technical (technology and operations) - and if you want a glimpse into the future of your own work life. Students will be evaluated on class participation, written work and a group assignment.


    This course is about managing large enterprises that face the strategic challenge of being the incumbent in the market and the organizational challenge of needing to balance the forces of inertia and change. The firms of interest in this course tend to operate in a wide range of markets and segments, frequently on a global basis, and need to constantly deploy their resources to fend off challenges from new entrants and technologies that threaten their established positions. The class is organized around three distinct but related topics that managers of established firms must consider: strategy, human and social capital, and global strategy.


    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.



    Successful firms often excel in the capability of employing and deploying human assets (resources) to achieve the effective implementation of business strategy. To understand this capability, this course will address two central themes: 1) How to think systematically and strategically about various aspects of managing the organization's human assets; and 2) What really needs to be done to implement these policies and achieve competitive advantage. In order to think "systematically" about this topic for any particular organization, we will consider the bundles of work practices and human resources processes that make up the overall system for managing people and evaluate whether these are internally consistent and aligned ("internal fit"). To think "strategically," we will then assess the relationship between practices/processes of managing people and the firm's strategy and strategic context, e.g. industry structure, competitive landscape, political, social, and economic environment -- for evidence of external fit. By paying attention to implementation, we will recognize that although many organizations recognize the importance of managing the workforce effectively (and even "know" what approaches have been effective elsewhere), firms and managers very often fail to implement these approaches. The course is organized in four sections: 1) Setting out basic frameworks for viewing the strategic management of human assets as a source of competitive advantage for firms; 2) Comparing and contrasting four different approaches to organizing human assets: "Control", "Commitment" model, "Talent" model, and "Collaborative", 3) Addressing the "make" vs. "buy" decision for human assets, i.e. when to upgrade the internal skills of existing employees (including promotion from within) in order to boost capabilities and compete in new areas vs. when to hire people who already have the necessary skills, via external hires and/or hiring individuals on contract; and 4) Analyzing the relationships among culture, HR systems, and organization change when faced with strategic shifts; leadership crises; rapid growth, and global expansion. The strategic management of human assets is only one source of competitive advantage. Yet many managers recognize (and many successful organizations embody) the reality that the competitive edge gained from the newest technology, the latest marketing strategy, or the most creative product design may be relatively short-lived as competitors rush to imitate and follow. Aligning human resource systems with business strategy is not easy, but once achieved, it seems to offer a more sustainable - because more unique and difficult to imitate - source of competitive advantage.




    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.



    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.


Awards and Honors

  • President of Industry Studies Association, 2019
  • Founding Board Member and Vice-President of the Industry Studies Association, 2018-present
  • Excellence in Teaching Award from the Philadelphia WEMBA Class of 2018, 2018
  • Co-curator, Automotive Transformation Map, World Economic Forum, 2017-present
  • MBA Executive Excellence in Teaching Award for Core Curriculum (San Francisco), University of Pennsylvania, 2012
  • Member of Automotive Experts Group, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, 2010-2015
  • Industry Agenda Council (Automotive), World Economic Forum, 2010-2012
  • Founding Member of Board of Directors, Industry Studies Association, 2008-2015
  • Advisor to Automotive Governors (CEO group), World Economic Forum, 2004-2007
  • MBA Excellence in Teaching Award for Core Curriculum, University of Pennsylvania, 2000
  • Outstanding Young Scholar Award, Industrial Relations Research Association, 1997
  • MBA Excellence in Teaching Award for Core Curriculum, University of Pennsylvania, 1996-1998
  • Miller-Sherrerd Teaching Award for MBA Core Courses, University of Pennsylvania, 1994
  • Undergraduate Division Excellence in Teaching Award, University of Pennsylvania, 1992
  • Zannetos PhD Thesis Prize, Sloan School of Management, MIT, 1991
  • International Professional Practice Research Award, American Society of Training and Development, 1989

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Erica L. Groshen, Susan Helper, John Paul MacDuffie, Charles Carson (2018), Preparing U.S. Workers and Employers for an Autonomous Vehicle Future,.
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In the News

What Will Give Electric Cars a Boost in the U.S.?

Wharton’s John Paul MacDuffie says building consumer confidence in electric vehicles will help the Biden administration succeed in its plan to cut gas-powered cars and emissions.

Knowledge @ Wharton - 8/24/2021
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Wharton students sitting in a lecture hallWhat Wharton Prof. John Paul MacDuffie Wants Students to Know about Human Capital and Competitive Advantage

Wharton students in the MBA Program for Executives on both coasts meet Prof. John Paul MacDuffie during Orientation week and then again in their first-year core course on Managing the Enterprise. During Orientation, he helps introduce the program and launch learning teams, and in class he focuses on the human…

Wharton Stories - 07/26/2021
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