Michael Useem

Michael Useem
  • William and Jacalyn Egan Professor Emeritus of Management

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    2103 SH-DH
    3620 Locust Walk
    Philadelphia, PA 19104

Research Interests: catastrophic and enterprise risk management., corporate change and restructuring, leadership, decision making, and governance

Links: Personal Website

Overview

Education:

PhD, Harvard University; MA, Harvard University; BS, University of Michigan.

Academic Appointment:

William and Jacalyn Egan Professor of Management, 1997-. Director, Wharton Center for Leadership and Change Management, 1996-.

Recent Consulting:

Numerous programs on leadership, decision making, governance, and change with companies and organizations in the private, public, and non-profit sectors in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America, including Abbott, American Express, Cargill, CEO Academy, Cisco, Coca-Cola, DuPont, Estee Lauder, Fidelity Investments, Goldman Sachs, Google, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Morgan Stanley, New York Fire Department, Northrop Grumman, Petrobras, Pew Charitable Trusts, Samsung, Sprint, 3M, The New York Times, Toyota, Verizon, United Nations, U.S. Government, and World Economic Forum.

 

Websites:

Wharton Leadership Center

Wharton Leadership Conference

Wharton Leadership Digest

Wharton Leadership Programs

Wharton Nano Tools for Leaders

Washington Post On Leadership

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Research

  • Howard Kunreuther and Michael Useem, Mastering Catastrophic Risk: How Companies Cope with Disruption (Oxford University Press, 2019)

  • Michael Useem, Dennis Carey, Brian Dumaine, Rodney Zemmel, Go Long: Why Long-Term Thinking Is Your Best Short-Term Strategy (Wharton Digital Press, 2018)

  • Luis Ballesteros, Michael Useem, Tyler Wry (2017), Masters of disasters: An empirical analysis of how societies benefit from corporate disaster giving, Academy of Management Journal, Forthcoming.

    Abstract: Corporations are increasingly influential within societies worldwide, while the relative capacity of national governments to meet large social needs has waned. Consequentially, firms face social pressures to adopt responsibilities that have traditionally fallen to governments, aid agencies, and other types of organizations. There are questions, though, about whether this is beneficial for society. We study this in the context of disaster relief and recovery, in which companies account for a growing share of aid, as compared to traditional providers. Drawing on the dynamic capabilities literature, we argue that firms are more able than other types of organizations to sense areas of need following a disaster, seize response opportunities, and reconfigure resources for fast, effective relief efforts. As such, we predict that, while traditional aid providers remain important for disaster recovery, relief will arrive faster and nations will recover more fully when locally active firms account for a larger share of disaster aid. We test our predictions with a proprietary data set comprising information on every natural disaster and reported aid donation worldwide from 2003 to 2013. Using a novel, quasi-experimental technique known as the “synthetic control method,” our analysis shows that nations benefit greatly from corporate involvement when disaster strikes

  • Howard Kunreuther, Erwann Michel-Kerjan, Michael Useem, Rethinking Catastrophic Risk: How Corporate America Copes with Disruption (Oxford University Press, 2016)

  • Luis Ballesteros and Michael Useem, “Corporate Activity for Dealing with Societal Risks”. In, edited by, (2016)

  • Luis Ballesteros and Michael Useem (Working), Local versus Global Institutional Pressures: Organizational Imitation and Multinationality.

    Abstract: The management literature has emphasized the role that imitation plays on corporate strategy. Firms tend to align to the social norms observed by reference peers. A widely invoked argument is that the community where firms are originally headquartered imprints them with a longstanding influence toward similar patterns of behavior. In this paper, I suggest that this argument is not easily generalizable once the organization internationalizes. Using the context of philanthropic responses in the aftermath of natural disasters, I show that the non-market activity of multinational firms that share the metropolitan area as headquarters may be significantly different. I find that firms tend to mimic the characteristics of the response of peers from the same industry despite that such organizations have different countries of origin. Furthermore, organizations that share metropolitan region as headquarters show dissimilar responses in a frequency that is not explained by chance. This study extends the global strategy and community literatures by proposing that the influence of geographic location on organizational behavior is less stable than institutional scholars tend to suggest. The systems of social norms and beliefs that firms join as they internationalize become more salient for organizational decision making than those learned in their communities of origin. The study also provides a more nuanced awareness of the role of the non-market activity of multinational enterprises in the context of geographically located systemic shocks. 

  • Michael Useem (2015), “From Classwide Coherence to Company-Focused Management and Director Engagement,”, Research in the Sociology of Organizations, 43.

  • Michael Useem and Howard Kunreuther, Leadership Dispatches: Chile’s Extraordinary Comeback from Disaster (2015)

  • Michael Useem, Howard Kunreuther, Erwann Michel-Kerjan, Leadership Dispatches: Chile’s Extraordinary Comeback from Disaster (Stanford University Press) (Stanford Business Books, 2015)

  • Luis Ballesteros and Michael Useem, How They Did It (Private Giving, Insurance Payouts for Recovery, Execution and Expectations. In Leadership Dispatches: Chile’s Extraordinary Comeback from Disaster, edited by Michael Useem and Howard Kunreuther, (2015), pp. 47-165

Teaching

All Courses

  • HCIN6100 - Connected Health Care

    Technology has allowed firms to fundamentally change how they connect with their customers. Rather than having occasional, episodic interactions--where customers realize they have an unmet need and then look for ways to fill it--firms are striving to be continuously connected to their customers, providing services and products as the needs arise, even before customers become aware of them. There is probably no other industry for which this development will be as transformative as in health care delivery. Wearable devices, smart pill bottles, and digestible sensors--all of these technologies, and many more, are associated with the promise of improving the quality of care while also making efficient use of resources. This course explores the impact of connected strategies in general, and in particular the opportunities associated with them in health care delivery.

  • HCIN6120 - Leadership & Legal Issues

    This course is composed of 2 units, each of which is 3 intensive weeks. In the first unit—Health Care Leadership with Prof. Michael Useem—you will focus on concepts, experience, and skills analysis to develop and synthesize a personal and organizational leadership strategy. In the second unit—Legal Issues in Health Care, with Dean Theodore W. Ruger—you will survey the basic legal rules that govern the provision of medical care in the United States. And you will gain a clear understanding of the various modes of health law formation (cases, statutes, administrative regulations) and the multiple federal, state, and local institutions involved in the creation and application of health law in the United States.

  • HCIN6160 - Health Equity & Ethics

    This is a 6-week, 1 cu course that pairs two complementary course topics. In the first 3 weeks, you will study health equity and in the final 3 weeks, you will study health ethics--both in the context of innovation. From Health Disparities to Health Equity. This unit will review the causes of and policy approaches for health disparities, and relate them to the specific discipline and interest of each student. We will explore health equity within the context of population health while examining some strategies for improving health equity through case studies and policy analysis. Understanding the role social determinants of health play in improving health status for populations is critical for health equity policies and will be examined in the course. Upon completion of this course, you will be able to identify health disparities and social determinants of health that adversely affect populations’ health due to their social, economic, and environmental conditions, and apply strategies for improving health equity and creating opportunities for all populations to live up to their full health potential. Ethics in Health Care Innovation and Research. This unit explores a framework for conducting research, including process improvement experiments, in health care. We will review the history of research ethics and traditional guidelines and codes, and will describe federal regulations governing biomedical and behavioral research. We will then delineate a commonly accepted framework for evaluating the ethics of research and how this framework applies to several systems research projects. Upon completing this course, learners will be able to critically evaluate the ethics of their specific research proposals, and will be prepared to justify their proposals to participants, funders and institutional review boards or research ethics committees.

  • MGMT3980 - 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.

  • MGMT6100 - Found of Teamwrk & Ldrsh

    MGMT 610 is the first core course in the MBA Program and it cannot be waived. The first week of the fall term (in August) is dedicated to this formative and foundational experience. This course focuses on developing students' knowledge and skill set for teamwork and leadership. It is meant to be an intense immersion experience that draws strongly on the pedagogy of the Wharton Teamwork and Leadership Simulation, a team-based, highly interactive simulation that was custom-designed specifically to allow students to experience the core concepts they learn in this class. The three goals of this course are for students to learn: 1. Leadership behaviors: how to enact the skills that contribute to a team's effective performance. 2. Team dynamics: how to be an effective team member, as well as how to best design work teams; 3. Organizational awareness: understanding organizational culture. Format: A custom-designed Wharton-only simulation is paired with course sessions to deliver a unique learning experience. Classes will include experiental learning combined with debriefings, lectures, readings, class discussion and personal and group performance feedback. This course reflects the realities that informal leadership occurs in teams on an ongoing basis, that being a good team player is a part of leadership, and that many of one's early experiences with leadership will occur while working on teams. Because of the team-based nature of this course, and time intensive nature of this experience, attendance is mandatory for ALL five sessions of this class.

  • MGMT6110 - Managing Est Enterprise

    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.

  • MGMT7980 - 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.

  • MGMT7990 - Special Topics MGMT

    Courses offered of various topics and points of focus, ranging across multiple concentrations of Management, (i.e., Entrepreneurial, Strategy, Organizational Business, etc.).

  • MGMT8970 - Global Modular Course A

    Special course arranged for Wharton MBA students, focused on global business, management and innovation.

Awards and Honors

  • Core teaching Award WEMBA East, 2011
  • Core teaching Award WEMBA West, 2011
  • Graduate Division Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2004
  • MBA Core Teaching Award, 2003-2009
  • MBA for Executives Program Teaching Award, 2003-2011
  • MBA for Executives Program Teaching Award, 2000-2001
  • MBA Core Teaching Award, 1993-2000
  • Helen Kardon Moss Anvil Award for Teaching Excellence in the Graduate Division, 1992
  • Graduate Division Award for Excellence in Teaching, 1992-2001

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Latest Research

Howard Kunreuther and Michael Useem, Mastering Catastrophic Risk: How Companies Cope with Disruption (Oxford University Press, 2019)
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In the News

What Can Leaders Learn from Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy?

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has transformed into a masterful communicator and powerful leader during his nation’s crisis, according to Wharton's Michael Useem.Read More

Knowledge at Wharton - 3/22/2022
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Wharton’s Global Impact: From Buenos Aires to Athens
Wharton Magazine - 10/16/2020

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A photo of Russ Laraway's How to Deliver Better Business Outcomes: A Proven Strategy from Wharton Grad Russ Laraway

Russ Laraway, WG’05, knows great leadership– and he has the research to back it. Earlier this year, Russ published When They Win, You Win: Being a Great Manager is Simpler Than You Think, a guide for managers and organizational planners on how to become a great manager and deliver both…

Wharton Stories - 09/30/2022
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