Michael Useem

William and Jacalyn Egan Professor of Management at The Wharton School


The Wharton School


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 nonprofit sectors in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America, including Abbott, American Express, Cargill, CEO Academy, Cisco, CocaCola, DuPont, Estee Lauder, Fidelity Investments, Goldman Sachs, Google, HewlettPackard, 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.



Howard Kunreuther, Erwann MichelKerjan, Michael Useem, Rethinking Catastrophic Risk: How Corporate America Copes with Disruption (2016)

Howard Kunreuther, Erwann MichelKerjan, Michael Useem, Rethinking Catastrophic Risk: How Corporate America Copes with Disruption (2016)

Howard Kunreuther, Erwann MichelKerjan, Michael Useem, Rethinking Catastrophic Risk: How Corporate America Copes with Disruption (2016)

Luis Ballesteros and Michael Useem, “Corporate Activity for Dealing with Societal Risks”. In Rethinking Catastrophic Risk: How Corporate America Copes with Disruption, edited by Howard Kunreuther, Erwann MichelKerjan, Michael Useem, (2016),

Luis Ballesteros, Michael Useem, Tyler Wry (2016), Masters of disasters: An empirical analysis of how societies benefit from corporate disaster giving , Academy of Management Journal, Forthcoming.

Luis Ballesteros, Michael Useem, Tyler Wry (Forthcoming), Masters of Disasters? An Empirical Evaluation of the Social Implications of Corporate Disaster Giving.

Abstract: We assess the social value of corporate social responsibility (CSR) by focusing on one of the fastest growing CSR areas worldwide: the corporate provision of monetary and inkind resources to help communities recover from natural disasters. We use a proprietary dataset that covers all donations from all entities (i.e., firms, governments, multinational agencies, and other NGOs) around the world that were reported in media to all major disasters that affected the world from 2003 to 2013 and a novel quasiexperimental method in the management literature: synthetic control method. We found the competences and routines of the firm economically connected to the affected country generate a comparative advantage for the supply of relief and recovery visàvis traditional foreign national and multilateral donors. Because of these mechanisms, a substantial participation in disaster response by business organizations economically active in the affected country increases the speed of accumulation of relief resources during the first postdisaster month and a greater postdisaster recovery of social welfare, as proxied by the Human Development Index. Because our study informs on the conditions and mechanisms under which a specific form of CSR adds to social welfare, it complements the vast literature exploring a connection between prosocial behavior and firm performance. Consequently, our study contributes to the literature on strategic CSR where the ‘doinggood’ side of the tenet has remained understudied. Taken together, our paper shows how and when corporate disaster giving is a winwin investment for both the firm and society.

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 nonmarket 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 nonmarket activity of multinational enterprises in the context of geographically located systemic shocks. 

Michael Useem (2015), “From Classwide Coherence to CompanyFocused 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. 47165

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

Past Courses


The management of large, established enterprises creates a range of multifacet 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.

  • 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
  • MBA for Executives Program Teaching Award, 2003
  • MBA for Executives Program Teaching Award, 2000
  • MBA Core Teaching Award, 1993
  • Helen Kardon Moss Anvil Award for Teaching Excellence in the Graduate Division, 1992
  • Graduate Division Award for Excellence in Teaching, 1992

The Chilean Miner Rescue: A Lesson in Global Teamwork 03/27/2012

Knowledge @ Wharton

  • Why Leaders Must Balance Ego with Humility, Knowledge @ Wharton 06/30/2017
  • Can United Recover from Its Customer Service Crisis?, Knowledge @ Wharton 04/13/2017
  • How Chinese Firms Bootstrapped Their Way to Global Dominance, Knowledge @ Wharton 03/15/2017
  • How the Immigration Ban Will Impact U.S. Businesses, Knowledge @ Wharton 01/31/2017
  • Management 101: The Marriage of Strategy and Leadership, Knowledge @ Wharton 10/11/2016
  • Are Good Managers Born or Made?, Knowledge @ Wharton 03/15/2016
  • How Shamsheer Vayalil Built VPS Healthcare into a Billiondollar Firm, Knowledge @ Wharton 10/19/2015
  • How CEOs Stymie Their Own Digital Transformation, Knowledge @ Wharton 08/25/2015
  • Empowering Lowincome Women through Access to Financial Services, Knowledge @ Wharton 07/31/2015
  • Back to the Future: GE’s Retooling into an Industrial Powerhouse, Knowledge @ Wharton 05/12/2015
  • How Corporate Boards Can Make a Difference, Knowledge @ Wharton 04/24/2015
  • How Smart Leadership Revived Chile after an Historic Disaster, Knowledge @ Wharton 04/15/2015
  • Bill George: Authentic Leadership and Letting Your Strengths ‘Bloom’, Knowledge @ Wharton 07/15/2014
  • Lenovo’s Bid to Become the Last Hardware Giant Standing, Knowledge @ Wharton 02/26/2014
  • What Business Can Learn from the Medal of Honor Tradition, Knowledge @ Wharton 02/24/2014
  • Satya Nadella’s Challenges as Microsoft’s New CEO, Knowledge @ Wharton 02/07/2014
  • Boards Revisited: Michael Useem on the New Corporate Governance, Knowledge @ Wharton 02/04/2014
  • Leadership Challenges at Johnson & Johnson, Knowledge @ Wharton 01/09/2014
  • Cost Efficient, Openspace Office Designs: Ditching Desks — and Privacy, Knowledge @ Wharton 06/19/2013
  • Using Community Libraries to Create Social Change in Rural South Asia, Knowledge @ Wharton 05/08/2013
  • Fueling Growth in Uncertain Times, Knowledge @ Wharton 05/01/2013
  • GE’s Jeff Immelt on Leadership, Global Risk and Growth, Knowledge @ Wharton 04/30/2013
  • The New Philanthropists: More Sophisticated, More Demanding — and Younger, Knowledge @ Wharton 04/24/2013
  • Global Fund’s Jaramillo: ‘If You Are Sure, Move Very Fast’, Knowledge @ Wharton 03/20/2013
  • Health Care Activist Steve Davis: Avoiding the ‘I’ll Give Back Later’ Trap, Knowledge @ Wharton 02/27/2013
  • An Insider’s View of The New York Times, Knowledge @ Wharton 02/19/2013
  • Tyco’s Ed Breen: During a Crisis, ‘Spend a Lot of Time on the Big Swings’, Knowledge @ Wharton 02/13/2013
  • A ‘Sigh of Relief’ at Davos: Confidence and Caution Shared Center Stage, Knowledge @ Wharton 01/30/2013
  • With New FDI Reforms Comes India’s Next Challenge: Execution, Knowledge @ Wharton 09/20/2012
  • The End of Exorbitant CEO Exit Packages? Don’t Hold Your Breath, Knowledge @ Wharton 07/18/2012
  • Bound for the Beach? Bring These Books…, Knowledge @ Wharton 06/26/2012
  • Medal of Honor: Defining the Essence of Leadership, Knowledge @ Wharton 06/08/2012
  • Leadership Lessons from On High, Knowledge @ Wharton 04/09/2012
  • Mt. Everest, Part II: Learning from a Second Climb of the World’s Highest Mountain, Knowledge @ Wharton 04/09/2012
  • Pop Quiz: Can Indra Nooyi Revive PepsiCo?, Knowledge @ Wharton 03/28/2012
  • The Chilean Miner Rescue: A Lesson in Global Teamwork, Knowledge @ Wharton 03/27/2012
  • Where the Jobs Are, Knowledge @ Wharton 02/10/2012
  • Davos 2012: ‘Joblessness and Its Discontents’, Knowledge @ Wharton 02/01/2012
  • IBM’s Sam Palmisano: ‘Always Put the Enterprise Ahead of the Individual’, Knowledge @ Wharton 01/18/2012
  • Wharton’s Michael Useem: ‘Global Protests Are an Indictment of Leadership and a Call for Leadership’, Knowledge @ Wharton 12/14/2011
  • Seven Top Leaders on Making Tough Calls and Serving for the Greater Good, Knowledge @ Wharton 12/09/2011
  • ‘Great by Choice’: Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen on Excelling in Uncertain Times, Part Two, Knowledge @ Wharton 11/30/2011
  • ‘Great by Choice’: Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen on Excelling in Uncertain Times, Part One, Knowledge @ Wharton 11/22/2011
  • Inside Job: Changing of the Guard at IBM, Knowledge @ Wharton 10/26/2011
  • Limited Seating: Mixed Results on Efforts to Include More Women at the Corporate Board Table, Knowledge @ Wharton 10/26/2011
  • Wharton’s Harbir Singh: How Indian Firms Can Take Advantage of Global Opportunities, Knowledge @ Wharton 10/20/2011
  • Ten Years After 9/11 — Risk Management in the Era of the Unthinkable, Knowledge @ Wharton 09/09/2011
  • Leading on 9/11 and Beyond: New York City Fire Department’s Joseph Pfeifer, Knowledge @ Wharton 09/08/2011
  • For Expatriates in the Gulf, Ignoring Ramadan Customs Could Spell Trouble, Knowledge @ Wharton 08/01/2011
  • Get Me Rewrite: What’s Next for Murdoch’s Media Empire?, Knowledge @ Wharton 07/20/2011


Courses Taught

Read about executive education

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