Daniel Raff

Daniel Raff
  • Associate Professor of Management

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    3113 SH-DH
    3620 Locust Walk
    Philadelphia, PA 19104

Research Interests: business history and strategy

Links: Personal Website, Penn Economic History Forum



PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1987; BPhil, Oxford University, 1978; MPA, Princeton University, 1976; BA, New College, 1973

Recent Consulting

Competitive strategy in manufacturing and services (including financial services); deal design

Academic Positions Held

Wharton: 1994-present. Previous appointments: Harvard University; Oxford University. Visiting appointments: Columbia University Schools of Business and Law

Other Positions

Faculty Research Fellow and Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research, 1988-present; Sloan Senior Research Fellow, Wharton Financial Institutions Center, 2000-present

Professional Leadership

Trustee, Business History Conference, 1998-2001; Chair, Investment Committee, 2001-present; Chair, Audit and Budget Committee and Trustee ex officio, Economic History Association, 2001-present

Continue Reading


  • Daniel Raff and Philip Scranton, “Silences, and Beginning to Fill Them”. In The Emergence of Routines, edited by Daniel M. G. Raff and Philip Scranton, (2017)

  • Daniel Raff, “Learning from History”. In The Emergence of Routines, edited by Daniel M. G. Raff and Philip Scranton, (2017)

  • Daniel Raff, “The Book-of-the-Month Club as a New Enterprise”. In The Emergence of Routines, edited by Daniel M.G. Raff and Philip Scranton, (2016)

  • Daniel Raff (2013), How to Do Things with Time, Enterprise & Society.

  • Daniel Raff (2013), The Business of the Press, Oxford University Press, Chapter 5, pp. 190-216.

  • Daniel Raff (2013), Worldwide Expansion and Influence, Oxford University Press, Chapter 19, pp. 583-617.

  • Daniel Raff, Susan Wachter, Se Yan (2013), Real estate prices in Beijing, 1644 to 1840, Explorations in Economic History, 50, pp. 368-386.

    Abstract: This paper provides the first estimates of housing price movements for Beijing in late pre-modern China. We hand-collect from archival sources transaction prices and other house attribute information from the 498 surviving house sale contracts for Beijing during the first two centuries of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1840), a long period without major wars, political turmoil, or significant institutional change in the Chinese capital. We use hedonic methods to construct a real estate price index for Beijing for the period. The regression analysis explains a major proportion of the variance of housing prices. We find that house prices grew steadily for the first half-century of the Qing Dynasty and declined afterwards in both nominal and real terms through the late eighteenth century. Nominal prices grew starting in the late eighteenth century and declined from the early nineteenth century through 1840. But these price changes occurred with contemporaneous price changes in basic measures of the cost of living: there was little change in real terms to the end of our period. © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

  • Daniel Raff, Naomi R Lamoreaux, Peter Temin (Working), Beyond Markets and Hierarchies: Towards a New Synthesis of American Business History.

    Abstract: We sketch a new synthesis of American business history to replace (and subsume) that putforward by Alfred D. Chandler, Jr., most famously in his book The Visible Hand (1977). We see the broader subject as the history of the institutions of coordination in the economy, with the management of information and the addressing of problems of informational asymmetries representing central problems for firm- and relationship design. Our analysis emphasizes the endogenous adoption of coordination mechanisms in the context of evolving but specific operating conditions and opportunities.  This naturally gives rise both to change and to heterogeneity in the population of coordination mechanisms to be observed in use at any moment in time. In discussing the changes in the population of mechanisms over time, we seek to avoid the tendency, exemplified by Chandler’s work but characteristic of the field, to see history of adoption in teleological rather than evolutionary perspective.  We see a richer set of mechanisms in play than is conventional and a more complex historical process at work, in particular a process in which hierarchical institutions have both risen and, more recently, declined in significance.

    Description: Reginald H. Jones Center for Management Policy, Strategy and Organization working paper.

  • Daniel Raff (2001), Risk Management in an Age of Change, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Global Financial Services Practice.

    Abstract: The environment in which banks and other financial services industry firms operate was once very stable. It is now increasingly permeated with change. Enhanced performance demands make this change salient to high-level decision-makers. Many of the opportunities firms now face are path-dependent and this will continue to be so. For firms to make effective choices in such an environment, both competitive strategy and the strategy-making process must come to terms with opportunities which evolve over time. Old decision-making systems and attitudes are unhelpful in this and may even be impediments to good outcomes. Risk inevitably features in getting these decisions right. All strategic decisions induce and impose constraints on the types of risk banks traditionally monitor and manage. This needs to be explicitly considered and is generally not. Strategic decisions also impose a new type of risk, detailed here, which also needs to be analyzed, monitored, and controlled. All these activities require changes, discussed in detail, both in decision-making protocols and in the organizational structures and routines supporting decision-making.

  • Daniel Raff and C. H. Fine, Internet-Driven Innovation and Economic Performance in the American Automobile Industry (2001)


Past Courses


    We all spend much of our lives in organizations. Most of us are born in organizations, educated in organizations, and work in organizations. Organizations emerge because individuals can't (or don't want to) accomplish their goals alone. Management is the art and science of helping individuals achieve their goals together. Managers in an organization determine where their organization is going and how it gets there. More formally, managers formulate strategies and implement those strategies. This course provides a framework for understanding the opportunities and challenges involved in formulating and implementing strategies by taking a "system" view of organizations,which means that we examine multiple aspects of how managers address their environments, strategy, structure, culture, tasks, people, and outputs, and how managerial decisions made in these various domains interrelate. The course will help you to understand and analyze how managers can formulate and implement strategies effectively. It will be particularly valuable if you are interested in management consulting, investment analysis, or entrepreneurship - but it will help you to better understand and be a more effective contributor to any organizations you join, whether they are large, established firms or startups.


    This course concerns the history of capitalism in America viewed from the perspective of the people who operated (and in some cases owned) the firms. Its focus is on the activities of value creation and value capture and on how evolving opportunities and selection pressures have conditioned the historic development of competition, strategic analysis and initiatives, organizational structures, merger-and-acquisition activity, entrepreneurship, and the like. Accounting and control are also part of the story: the course in fact considers issues arising in a variety of different management disciplines and shows off their interrelationships. The maintenance (or otherwise) of value capture over the cycle and over time is a running theme. The course has a narrative element (running from Franklin's days through the early twenty-first century) but its deeper purpose is to give students some idea of how to think about the future evolution of firms and industries. It proceeds through a consideration of actual business decisions and performance in a series of challenging and otherwise interesting moments in the evolution of the American business environment. The materials are unusual for the Wharton School--they are often case-like and when possible draw on documents contemporary to the decisions such as correspondence, memoranda, minutes of meetings, old newspaper and magazine stories, and eyewitness accounts. They require thoughtful preparation. This course is much more focused on the students than many and a successful experience of its demands that the students both engage with the materials and take an active role in the class discussion. The largest single element in the grading is a substantial term paper on a topic agreeable to both the student and the instructor. For more information, please contact the instructor: raff@wharton.upenn.edu.


    This course examines how the kind of firms in which most Wharton students will spend the next stage of their careers came to be as they are today. At a superficial level, the course's objectives are descriptive and narrative. Its deeper purpose is to give students some idea of how to think about the future evolution of firms and industries. The course will discuss the historical development of the business enterprise as an institution. It will also cover the evolution of competition and strategy and of corporate finance. The focus will be on American developments, since many of the innovations took place here, but there is scope for comparison with institutions in Japan and the leading European economies if there is student interest. The course considers issues arising in anumber of different management disciplines and shows off their interrelationships. In terms of the Wharton curriculum and of recent research, strategy issues,and in particular the set of issues concerning how value can be created and captured at the enterprise level, are a running theme. Format: There will be occasional lecturing but this is principally a discussioncourse. The readings are predominantly primary source documents, supplanted when helpful by background notes from the instructor, with occasional readings from secondary sources. Evaluation is based on class participation, weekly brief written responses to the readings, and a term paper, with the great bulk of thegrade weight on the last of these.

In the News

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Latest Research

Daniel Raff and Philip Scranton, “Silences, and Beginning to Fill Them”. In The Emergence of Routines, edited by Daniel M. G. Raff and Philip Scranton, (2017)
All Research

In the News

Amazon Under Fire: Is Antitrust Action Likely?

Although Amazon has faced a series of accusations by President Trump about its business practices recently, the company would likely survive any attempts to bring antitrust action against it, experts say.

Knowledge @ Wharton - 2018/04/9
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