Research Interests: catastrophic and enterprise risk management., corporate change and restructuring, leadership, decision making, and governance
Links: Personal Website
PhD, Harvard University; MA, Harvard University; BS, University of Michigan.
William and Jacalyn Egan Professor of Management, 1997-. Director, Wharton Center for Leadership and Change Management, 1996-.
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.
Michael Useem, Dennis Carey, Brian Dumaine, Rodney Zemmel, Go Long: Why Long-Term Thinking Is Your Best Short-Term Strategy (Wharton Digital Press, 2018)
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.
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
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)
The management of large, established enterprises creates a range of multi-facet challenges for the general manager. A general manager needs to understand the internal workings of a firm, how to assess and create a strategy, and how to take into account increasing, globalization. While these issues are distinct, they are very much intertwined. As a result, this course will provide you with an integrated view of these challenges and show you that effective of an established enterprise requires a combination of insights drawn from economics, sociology, psychology and political economy.
Former GE vice chair Beth Comstock talks about her time at the company and the challenges that lie ahead for new CEO Larry Culp.Knowledge @ Wharton - 2018/10/30