Harbir Singh

Harbir Singh
  • Mack Professor
  • Professor of Management
  • Co-Director, Mack Institute for Innovation Management
  • Faculty Director, Huntsman Program

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    3456 SH-DH
    3620 Locust Walk
    Philadelphia, PA 19104

Research Interests: corporate governance, corporate restructuring, joint ventures, management buyouts, strategies for corporate acquisitions

Links: CV



PhD, University of Michigan, 1984; MBA, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, 1978; BTech, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, 1975


Academic Positions Held

Wharton: 1984-present (Vice Dean for Global Initiatives, 2008-present; Acting Chairperson, Management Department, 2007-2008; named the Mack Professor, 2005; Co-Director, Mack Institute for Innovation Management, 2001-present; Chairperson, Management Department, 1999-2001; named Edward H. Bowman Professor of Management, 1999-2005).

Other Positions

Sales Management, Madura Coats, Ltd., 1978-79; Sales Officer, Philips India, Ltd., 1975-76

Professional Leadership

Editorial Board, Strategic Management Journal, 1989-present; Editorial Board, Academy of Management Review, 1993-present


Selected Publications

Building Capabilities Through Learning: The Role of the Alliance Learning Process in Alliance Capability and Success, (with P. Kale). Strategic Management Journal, forthcoming.

Splitting the Pie: Rent Distribution in Alliances and Networks, (with J. Dyer and P. Kale). Managerial and Decision Economics, forthcoming.

Organizing for Innovation: Managing the Coordination-Autonomy Dilemma in Technology Acquisitions, (with P. Puranam and M. Zollo). Academy of Management Journal 49:2, 2006.

When to Ally and When to Acquire? (with J. Dyer and P. Kale), Harvard Business Review, 2004.

Deliberate Learning in Corporate Acquisitions: Post-Acquisition Strategies and Integration Capability in US Bank Mergers, (with M. Zollo), Strategic Management Journal, 25:13, 2004.

A Bird in Hand? Integration Tradeoffs in Technology-Grafting Acquisitions, (with P. Puranam and M. Zollo), European Management Journal, 2003.

Interorganizational Routines and Performance in Strategic Alliances, (with J. Reuer and M. Zollo), Organization Science 13:6, 2002.

Alliance Capability, Stock Market Response and Long-Term Alliance Success: The Role of the Alliance Function, (with P. Kale and J. Dyer), Strategic Management Journal 23:8, 2002.

Post-Formation Dynamics in Strategic Alliances, (with M. Zollo and J. Reuer), Organization Science 23:2, 2002.

Value Creation and Success in Strategic Alliances: Alliancing Skills and the Role of the Alliance Function and Systems, (with J. Dyer and P. Kale), European Management Journal 19:5, 2001.

How To Make Strategic Alliances Work, (with P. Kale and J. Dyer), Sloan Management Review 42:4, 2001.

Corporate and Industry Effects on Business Unit Competitive Position, (with S.J. Chang), Strategic Management Journal 21:7, 2000.

Acquisition of Physician Group Practices by For-Profit and Not-For-Profit Organizations, (with R.L. Burns and R.A. DeGraaf), Quarterly Journal of Economics and Finance 39:4, 1999.

Complementarity, Status Similarity and Social Capital as Drivers of Alliance Formation, (with S. Chung and K. Lee), Strategic Management Journal, 2000.

The Architecture of Cooperation: Coordination Costs and the Governance of Strategic Alliances, (with R. Gulati), Administrative Science Quarterly, 1999.

When Does Corporate Restructuring Improve Economic Performance? (with E.H. Bowman, M. Useem and R. Bhadury), California Management Review, 1999.

Relational Advantage: Relational Rents and Sources of Interorganizational Advantage, (with J. Dyer). Academy of Management Review 23:4, 1998.

National Culture Distance and Cross-Border Acquisition Performance, (with P. Morosini and S. Shane), Journal of International Business Studies, 1998.

Asset Redeployment, Acquisitions and Corporate Strategy in Declining Industries, (with J. Anand), Strategic Management Journal, 1997.

Corporate Restructuring: A Symptom of Poor Governance or a Solution to Past Managerial Mistakes? (with C. Markides), European Management Journal 15:3, 1997.



Continue Reading


  • Aseem Kaul, Paul Nary, Harbir Singh (2018), Who Does Private Equity Buy: Evidence on the Role of Private Equity from Buyouts of Divested Businesses, Strategic Management Journal, 30.

    Abstract: We examine the role of nonventure private equity firms in the market for divested businesses, comparing targets bought by such firms to those bought by corporate acquirers. We argue that a combination of vigilant monitoring, high‐powered incentives, patient capital, and business independence makes private equity firms uniquely suited to correcting underinvestment problems in public corporations, and that they will therefore systematically target divested businesses that are outside their parents’ core area, whose rivals invest more in long‐term strategic assets than their parents, and whose parents have weak managerial incentives both overall and at the divisional level. Results from a sample of 1,711 divestments confirm these predictions. Our study contributes to our understanding of private equity ownership, highlighting its advantage as an alternate governance form.

    Description: Private equity firms are often portrayed as destroyers of corporate value, raiding established companies in pursuit of short‐term gain. In contrast, we argue that private equity investors help to revitalize businesses by enabling investments in long‐term strategic resources and capabilities that they are better able to evaluate, monitor, and support than public market investors. Consistent with these arguments, we find that when acquiring businesses divested by public corporations, private equity firms are more likely to buy units outside the parent's core area, those whose peers invest more in R&D than their parents, and those whose parents have weak managerial incentives, especially at the divisional level. Thus, private equity firms systematically target those businesses that may fail to realize their full potential under public ownership.

  • Shiva Agarwal, Harbir Singh, Vikas A. Aggarwal (Draft), Partnering in a haze: Interdependence mis-specification and firm performance in strategic alliances.

    Abstract: We examine the firm performance implications of managers having an incorrect representation of their inter-firm task interdependencies in the context of alliance relationships. Although uncertainty regarding inter-firm interdependence is common in practice when structuring alliances, prior literature provides limited evidence on the firm performance implications of such “misspecifications.” We employ a computational model to examine firm performance in an alliance context where firms have either under- or over-specified views of their inter-firm interdependencies. We find that firm performance declines with greater misspecification, with variation in this effect across alliance governance modes and across levels of actual interdependence. In addition, we find that interdependence misspecifications have differing effects on exploration and coordination, leading to tradeoffs between performance and these other non-performance alliance objectives.

  • Harbir Singh and Patia McGrath (Under Review), Post-Acquisition Management.

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

  • Vikas Aggarwal, Nicolaj Siggelkow, Harbir Singh (2011), Corporate Development Choices and Interdependence: Strategic Tradeoffs and Performance Implications, Strategic Management Journal, 32: 705-730.

  • Jitendra Singh, Peter Cappelli, Harbir Singh, Michael Useem, The India Way: How India’s Top Business Leaders are Revolutionizing Management, Harvard Business Press (2010)

  • Peter Cappelli, Harbir Singh, Jitendra Singh, Michael Useem (2010), Leadership Lessons From India, Harvard Business Review, 90-97.

    Abstract: The article discusses research on performance management and leadership strategy which resulted in competitive advantages for companies that are based in India. The so-called Indian business model at companies such as Infosys, Reliance Industries, and Aventis Pharma is mentioned. The skills that Indian executives consider most valuable include strategic thinking and communication of an organizational vision. The characteristics of leaders that are considered valuable include being accountable and being an inspirational role model. Organizational transparency, employee empowerment, and investment in training are part of the corporate culture.

  • P. Puranam, Harbir Singh, Saikat Chaudhuri (2009), Integrating Acquired Capabilities: When Structural Integration is (Un)Necessary, Organization Science.

    Abstract: Acquirers who buy small technology-based firms for their technological capabilities often discover that post-merger integration can destroy the very innovative capabilities that made the acquired organization attractive in the first place. Viewing structural integration as a mechanism to achieve coordination between acquirer and target organizations helps explain why structural integration may be necessary in technology acquisitions despite the costs of disruption this imposes, as well as the conditions under which it becomes less (or un-) necessary. We show that interdependence motivates structural integration but that preexisting common ground offers acquirers an alternate path to achieving coordination, which may be less disruptive than structural integration.

  • Harbir Singh, P. Puranam, M. Zollo (2006), Organizing for Innovation: Managing the Coordination-Autonomy Dilemma In Technology Acquisitions, Academy of Management Journal, 49:2.

    Abstract: Large, established firms acquiring small, technology-based firms must manage them so as to both exploit their capabilities and technologies in a coordinated way and foster their exploration capacity by preserving their autonomy. We suggest that acquirers can resolve this coordination-autonomy dilemma by recognizing that the effect of structural form on innovation outcomes depends on the developmental stage of acquired firms' innovation trajectories. Structural integration decreases the likelihood of introducing new products for firms that have not launched products before being acquired and for all firms immediately after acquisition, but these effects disappear as innovation trajectories evolve.

  • Harbir Singh, P. Kale, J. Dyer (2002), Alliance Capability, Stock Market Response and Long-Term Alliance Success: The Role of the Alliance Function, Strategic Management Journal, 23:8.

    Abstract: This paper addresses two key questions: (1) what factors influence firms' ability to build alliance capability and enjoy greater alliance success, where firm-level alliance success is measured in two ways: (a) abnormal stock market gains following alliance announcements and (b) managerial assessments of long term alliance performance; and (2) are the two alternate ways of assessing alliance success correlated? We find that firms with greater alliance experience and, more importantly, those that create a dedicated alliance function (with the intent of strategically coordinating alliance activity and capturing/disseminating alliance-related knowledge) realize greater success with alliances. More specifically, firms with a dedicated alliance function achieve greater abnormal stock market gains (average of 1.35%) and report that 63 percent of alliances are successful whereas firms without an alliance function achieve much lower stock market gains (average of 0.18%) and only a 50 percent long-term success rate. We also find a positive correlation between stock market-based measures of alliance success and alliance success measured through managerial assessments. In addition to providing insights into the development of alliance capability among firms, this paper is one of the first to provide empirical support for the efficient markets argument by demonstrating that the initial stock market response to a key event positively correlates to the long-term performance and value of the event.


Past Courses


    This is a first-semester Freshman year course that will be required for, and limited to, incoming students in the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business, which is a coordinated dual-degree program jointly administered by the College of Arts and Sciences and the Wharton School. The course is being offered for the first time in Fall 2020 and will be co-taught by the Huntsman Faculty Directors, Professor Rudra Sil (Department of Political Science, School of Arts & Sciences) and Professor Harbir Singh (Management Department, Wharton School). The course offers a shared understanding of some fundamental concepts, theoretical frameworks, and long-term historical trends that relate to both the study of business on a global scale and the social scientific analysis of contemporary issues. The first section (module) of the course, to be led by Professor Sil, will provide a broad overview of the evolution of global political economy across diverse historical eras, from the Industrial Revolution to the challenges of economic governance in the post-World War II era to the emergence of (and questioning of) the "Washington Consensus" in the post-Cold War era. Throughout, students will learn about varied developmental pressures and shifting international environments within which the relationships between markets and governments have been organized. The second section (module), to be led by Professor Singh, will delve into the complex challenges and opportunities faced by firms and businesses operating on a global scale. With the aid of case studies, this section will address approaches to decisions and processes that affect the rise and fall of comparative advantage, while paying attention to evolving organizational structures, business strategies, the emergence of inter-firm networks and large business organizations, including multi-national corporations. In the third part of the course, students are expected to use what they learn and engage each other through the presentation of team projects on a major contemporary issue of global significance. These projects will incorporate discussion of some of the research being done by Penn faculty in the School of Arts & Sciences as well as the Wharton School, thereby helping to familiarize students with some of the disciplines and scholarly traditions covered in the two schools. The weekly three-hour sessions will typically include lectures, discussions of assigned readings, small-group work and question-and-answer periods. Following an introductory session in the first week, the course will consist of three modules. Prerequisites: Admission to Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business


    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.


    This interactive, applied, and case-based course explores the various modes of corporate development available to managers to drive firm growth and change, including alliances, outsourcing, corporate venturing, and particularly mergers and acquisitions. The objectives are three-fold: (1) to arm the student with a set of tools to facilitate the selection of the appropriate growth strategy in a given situation; (2) to provide insights as to how to manage partnerships like alliances, outsourcing, and corporate venturing; and, (3) to develop a comprehensive framework for executing M&As, from initiation to implementation. The emphasis is on strategic and operational aspects of these transactions, rather than financial considerations. Please note that you must fulfill the prerequisites in order to enroll in this class.


    This course is concerned with strategy issues at the business unit level. Its focus is on the question of how firms can create and sustain a competitive advantage. A central part of the course deals with concepts that have been developed around the notions of complementarities and fit. Other topics covered in the course include the creation of competitive advantage through commitment, competitor analysis, different organizational responses to environmental changes, modularity, and increasing returns. An important feature of the course is a term-length project in which groups of students work on firm analyses that require the application of the course concepts.


    This course explores the management of strategic partnerships between firms, which have surged in recent years in response to globalization, technological evolution, deregulation, shortened product life cycles, and intensified competition. Today's alliances drive corporate growth and change, and vary greatly in terms of partner type, commitment, equity investment, degree of control, between scale, and scope. They range from bilateral arrangements to ecosystems to outsourcing, often blurring traditional organizational boundaries and leading to the creation of globally distributed enterprises. In view of these contemporary developments, the objectives of the course are two-fold: (1) to arm you with a set of tools to facilitate the selection of an appropriate alliance strategy in a given situation; and, (2) to provide you with frameworks to help the initiate and implement different kinds of partnerships. The emphasis lies on strategic and organizational aspects in the formation and management of these transactions, rather than financial considerations. Alternative growth strategies to strategic alliances (e.g., acquisitions), the impact of these partnerships on competition within an industry, and regulatory constraints will also be discussed. In terms of its pedagogical approach, this is designed to be an interactive, applied, case-based course with accompanying conceptual readings to help structure your thinking. Given the nature of the course, we will also apply the lessons from the cases to understand the challenges and implications of relevant recent and on-going deals. In addition, guest speakers with experience in investment banking, consulting, and industry will be invited to share their perspectives. A group project is intended to give you the opportunity to apply your learning from the course to a context that is most interesting and relevant to you.


    This interactive, applied, and case-based course explores the various modes of corporate development available to managers to drive firm growth and change, including alliances, outsourcing, corporate venturing, and particularly mergers and acquisitions. The objectives are three-fold: (1) to arm the student with a set of tools to facilitate the selection of the appropriate growth strategy in a given situation; (2) to provide insights as to how to manage partnerships like alliances, outsourcing, and corporate venturing; and, (3) to develop a comprehensive framework for executing M&As, from initiation to implementation. The emphasis is on strategic and operational aspects of these transactions, rather than financial considerations. Please note that you must fulfill the prerequisites in order to enroll in this class.





    This course explores current research on corporate strategy. Over the past two decades, research in the area of corporate strategy has evolved considerably. The fundamental focus of the field has been on sources of competitive advantage at the of the firm, and the process of building and maintaining competitive advantage. In this class, we explore current research articles that best represent the development of rent-generating resources at the level of the firm. Topics addressed include the concept of strategy, research on the evolution of firm capabilities, competitive interaction, top management teams and strategy formation, and changes in firm scope through acquisitions, divestitures and alliances.


    This half-semester course examines one of the foundational questions in strategy: the role of organizational structure in both supporting and shaping strategy. As Winston Churchill famously said: "We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us." This course examines this proposition from two traditions, the "institutional economics" and "information processing" schools of organizational design. We will examine foundational works from both schools, such as Coase, Williamson, Simon, March, and others, and then proceed to recent work in the area. Some of the questions that we will explore in the class are: why do firms exist? What determines their boundaries? What determines formal and informal structures within firms? How does the strategic context shape the answers to these questions? How might the nature of the firm and its boundaries relate to innovation, human capital, and knowledge creation? The aim of this class is to provide students with a grounding in the fundamental questions and contributions in this area, and to spark ideas for research in their own graduate work.

Awards and Honors

  • Miller-Sherrerd MBA Core Teaching Award, 1993

In the News

Knowledge @ Wharton

Wharton Stories


In the News

Layered Leadership and Apple’s Rise to the Top

In an excerpt from the revised and updated edition of their book ‘The Strategic Leader’s Roadmap,’ Wharton’s Harbir Singh and Michael Useem explore how Apple’s approach to leadership has contributed to its success.

Knowledge @ Wharton - 11/23/2021
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Wharton Magazine

Finding Virtue in Private Equity

The industry’s investors often are portrayed as greedy corporate raiders, but a new study argues the opposite may be true.

Wharton Magazine - 04/19/2019

Wharton Stories

Picture of Prof. John Zhang teaching in China. He wears a black suit and white shirt, and is gesturing as he speaks. The classroom is filled with students.MBA Students Head to Beijing for an Immersive Learning Experience on Marketing to the Chinese Consumer

A three-day joint Global Modular Course blends classroom knowledge and cultural learning for MBA students from Wharton and Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management….

Wharton Stories - 04/13/2018
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