Peter Cappelli, Ph.D. 10.23.15


The Wharton School
George W. Taylor Professor

Peter Cappelli is the George W. Taylor Professor of Management at The Wharton School and Director of Wharton’s Center for Human Resources.  He is also a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, MA, served as Senior Advisor to the Kingdom of Bahrain for Employment Policy from 20032005, and since 2007 is a Distinguished Scholar of the Ministry of Manpower for Singapore.  He has degrees in industrial relations from Cornell University and in labor economics from Oxford where he was a Fulbright Scholar. He has been a Guest Scholar at the Brookings Institution, a German Marshall Fund Fellow, and a faculty member at MIT, the University of Illinois, and the University of California at Berkeley. He was a staff member on the U.S. Secretary of Labor’s Commission on Workforce Quality and Labor Market Efficiency from 1988’90, CoDirector of the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center on the Educational Quality of the Workforce, and a member of the Executive Committee of the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center on PostSecondary Improvement at Stanford University.  Professor Cappelli has served on three committees of the National Academy of Sciences and three panels of the National Goals for Education.  He was recently named by HR Magazine as one of the top 5 most influential thinkers in management and was elected a fellow of the National Academy of Human Resources.  He received the 2009 PRO award from the International Association of Corporate and Professional Recruiters for contributions to human resources.  He serves on Global Agenda Council on Employment for the World Economic Forum and a number of advisory boards.

Professor Cappelli’s recent research examines changes in employment relations in the U.S. and their implications.  These publications include The New Deal at Work: Managing the MarketDriven Workforce, which examines the decline in lifetime employment relationships, Talent Management: Managing Talent in an Age of Uncertainty, which outlines the strategies that employers should consider in developing and managing talent (named a “best business book” for 2008 by BoozAllen), and The India Way: How India’s Top Business Leaders are Revolutionizing Management (with colleagues), which describes a missiondriven and employeefocused approach to strategy and competitiveness.  His 2010 book Managing the Older Worker (with Bill Novelli) dispels myths about older workers and describes how employers can best engage them. Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs (2012) identifies shortfalls with current hiring practices and training practices and has been excerpted in Time Magazine (online) and reviewed in the Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, and most major business publications.  Related work on managing retention, electronic recruiting, and changing career paths appears in the Harvard Business Review.

Relevant websites

Wharton Leadership Conference

Talent on Demand

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

Peter Cappelli and JR Keller (2014), Talent management: Conceptual approaches and practical challenges, Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior , 1.

Abstract: he challenges associated with managing talent in modern labor markets are a constant source of discussion among academics and practitioners, but the literature on the subject is sparse and has grown somewhat haphazardly. We provide an overview of the literature on talent management—a body of work that spans multiple disciplines—as well as a clear statement as to what defines talent management. The new themes in contemporary talent management focus on (a) the challenge of open labor markets, including issues of retention as well as the general challenge of managing uncertainty, (b) new models for moving employees across jobs within the same organization, and (c) strategic jobs for which investments in talent likely show the greatest return. We review the conceptual and practical literature on these topics, outline the evolution of talent management over time, and present new topics for future research.

Peter Cappelli and Monica Hamori (2013), Who Says Yes When the Headhunter Calls? Understanding Executive Job Search , Organization Science, forthcoming. (NBER Working Paper 19295).

Abstract: We examine an aspect of job search in the important context of executivelevel jobs using a unique data set from a prominent executive search firm.  Specifically, we observe whether or not executives pursue offers to be considered for a position at other companies.  The fact that the initial call from the search firm, which we observe, is an exogenous event for the executive makes the context particularly useful. We use insights from the MultiArm Bandit problem to analyze the individual’s decision as it emphasizes assessments of future prospects in the decision process, which are particularly relevant for executive careers.  More than half the executives we observe were willing to be a candidate for a job elsewhere. Executives are more likely to search where their current roles are less certain and where their career experience has been broader.  Search is more likely even for broader experience within the same employer. In the latter case, the array of likely opportunities is also broader, making search more useful.

Peter Cappelli and JR Keller (2013), Classifying work in the new economy, Academy of Management Review, 38 (4), pp. 122.

Abstract: Alternatives to the archetypal model of fulltime, regular employment are now both prevalent and wideranging. Over a fifth of US workers, and even more globally, now perform economic work under arrangements that differ from fulltime, regular employment. Yet most of our management and social science notions about economic work are based on the fulltime employment model. We know relatively little about the operation and consequences of alternatives arrangements in part because while these arrangements vary considerably, they are commonly grouped together for research purposes using existing classification systems. We outline an inclusive classification system that distinguishes clearly between employment and its alternatives.  It also distinguishes among the alternatives themselves by grouping work arrangements into categories that share common properties and that are distinct from each other in ways that matter for practice and for research. The classification system is based on distinctions about the sources and extent of control over the work process, the contractual nature of the work relationship, and the parties involved in the work relationship. Our classification system is both informed by and reflects the legal distinctions among these categories. We explore implications of our system for research and theory development.

Peter Cappelli and JR Keller (2013), A study of the extent and potential causes of alternative employment arrangements, Industrial & Labor Relations Review, 6 (4), pp. 874901.

Abstract: The notion of regular, fulltime employment as one of the defining features of the U.S. economy has been called into question in recent years by the apparent growth of alternative or “nonstandard” arrangements – parttime work, temporary help, independent contracting, and other arrangements. Identifying the extent of these arrangements, whether they are increasing, and where they occur is the first step for understanding their implications for the economy and the society. But this has been difficult to do because of the lack of appropriate data. We present estimates of the extent of these practices based on a national probability sample of U.S. establishments, evidence on changes in their use over time, and analyses that help us begin to understand why they are used.

Peter Cappelli, Strategic Talent Management: Contemporary Issues in an International Context (2013)

Peter Cappelli, Strategic Talent Management: Contemporary Issues in an International Context (2012)

JR Keller and Peter Cappelli, “A supply chain approach to talent management”. In Strategic Talent Management: Contemporary Issues in International Context, edited by Paul Sparrow, Hugh Scullion, Ibraiz Tarique, (2012),

Peter Cappelli, Why Good People Can't Get Jobs: The Skill Gap and What Companies Can Do About It (2012)

Peter Cappelli (2011), HR Sourcing Decisions and Risk Management , Organizational Dynamics, 40, pp. 310316.

Past Courses


This undergraduate core course introduces students to a combination of basic concepts and timely topics around work and employment. As such, it is divided into two main sections and two quarters within each of those. The first main section deals with microlevel work issues, while the second main section deals with macrolevel work issues. Within each of those sections, the first quarter focuses on basic concepts, while the quarter section deals with more applied topics.


Emerging enterprises, the focus in this course, are small, new, fastgrowing organizations. Their founders and managers face multifaceted challenges: how to assess the competitive position of their business model and develop a strategy; how to develop the internal organizational structure, culture, and policies for selecting and managing employees; and how to pursue global opportunities. We cover these challenges in separate modules on strategy, human and social capital, and global issues. The human and social capital module covers classic management challenges of aligning interests of the individual and the organization; managing individual psychological needs and social influences; and developing employee capabilities that provide competitive advantage. Also covered are unique challenges that yound organizations face, i.e. building an effective culture; recruiting, selecting, and retaining talent; building systematic approaches to motivating employees; coping with the stresses of rapid growth; and leveraging the benefits (and avoiding the liabilities) of the founder's powerful imprint. ,The strategy module covers fundamental issues central to the competitiveness of the enterprise. Because the strategy field is broad, MGMT 612 emphasizes topics and frameworks that are most relevant for younger firms, such as innovation, disruption, managing resource constraints, and building capabilities. However, a key insight of the module is the importance of seeing the playing field from the perspective of the competition. Thus, by the end of this section, students will have a robust grounding in strategy that will allow them to succeed, whether their career path leads to a Fortune 100 firm or a garage start up. ,The global module covers the emerging firm's decision about when (and whether) to internationalize. This decision must address which foreign markets to enter; the mode of entry; the sequence of moves to develop capabilities; what organizational form to choose; where to establish HQ; and how to adapt to the unique economic and institutional features of different markets. In all these issues, the emphasis is on how young, resourceconstrained firms can position themselves profitably in globally competitive markets. For the final project, student teams provide integrated analysis across the modules for an emerging enterprise of their choice.


This is a halfsemester PhD course in the Management Department that is also open to any current PhD students at Wharton. The canonical model in economics views an agent as a fully rational, atomistic individual making optimal choices under scarcity. This approach has been very powerful theoretically and empirically to explain and to predict behavior in the workplace. This model has also beenenriched to accommodate other phenomena arguably affecting behavior in the workplace like the social context (e.g. peer effects, altruism, or social comparison), nonstandard time preferences, loss aversion, and cognitive costs. Incorporating these ideas into the standard model can be accomplished in various ways but the real stress test for these theories is whether they predict behavior more generally (i.e. we don't just use theory to explain one choice but choices more generally) and to generate empirical predictions that can be tested using experiments. In this minicourse we startoff with a tour de force of the fundamental principalagent model and the various behavioral extensions. The core of the course is, however, not theoretical but a practical course on how to design field experiments to test these ideas.


This class is designed to give students an overview of the fundamental topics and arguments in the area of employment, how different social science paradigms consider employment topics, and some the new and emerging approaches to this topic.

Ranked fifth on HR Most Influential 2012 Top 20 International Thinkers, 2012 Member, World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Employment, 2012 HR Magazine’s list of top international thinkers, 2011 Core teaching Award WEMBA East, 2011 Received 2009 PRO award from International Association of Corporate and Professional Recruiters for contributions to human resources, 2009 Member of Business Roundtable “Springboard” Commission of Workforce Training & Development, 2009 Distinguished Visitor Board, Ministry of Manpower, 2008 Elected a Fellow of the National Academy of Human Resources, 2003 Named by in 2001 as one of the 25 most important people working in the area of human capital, 2001

The Big Jobs Myth: American Workers Aren’t Ready for American Jobs, The Atlantic magazine 07/25/2012 Mind the Gap, The New Yorker 07/09/2012 If There’s a Gap, Blame It on the Employer, New York Times 07/09/2012 Why It’s Up to You to Manage Your Career (video), The Globe and Mail 07/04/2012 Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs, Radio Times with Marty MossCoane 06/11/2012 Software Raises Bar for Hiring, Wall Street Journal 05/31/2012 McDonald’s Recipe for Success Brought New CEO to the Table, Forbes 03/22/2012 Why Companies Aren’t Getting the Employees They Need – the Author Follows Up, Wall Street Journal 10/26/2011 Why Companies Aren’t Getting the Employees They Need, Wall Street Journal 10/24/2011

Knowledge @ Wharton

Unfair — and Unfixable? The Simple Truth About Salaries, Knowledge @ Wharton 07/06/2017 Is IBM’s Rethinking of Its Remote Work Policy a Bellwether?, Knowledge @ Wharton 06/22/2017 Taking the Reins: How One CEO Transformed His Consulting Firm, Knowledge @ Wharton 04/28/2017 How Chinese Firms Bootstrapped Their Way to Global Dominance, Knowledge @ Wharton 03/15/2017 Unlimited Vacation Time: Could Your Company Make It Work?, Knowledge @ Wharton 03/07/2017 The Surprising Impact of the Decline in U.S. Manufacturing Jobs, Knowledge @ Wharton 03/07/2017 How Would Curbs on Immigration Affect U.S. Tech Firms?, Knowledge @ Wharton 02/07/2017 How Economic Realities in Saudi Arabia Can Benefit Women, Knowledge @ Wharton 01/26/2017 Thailand’s Quest for Stability, Knowledge @ Wharton 10/28/2016 The End of Annual Performance Reviews: Are the Alternatives Any Better?, Knowledge @ Wharton 09/19/2016 Robot Assistants in Aisle 10: Will Shoppers Buy It?, Knowledge @ Wharton 09/07/2016 The Multiple Boss Dilemma: Is It Possible to Please More Than One?, Knowledge @ Wharton 09/02/2016 The Future of Work: How You Can Ride the Wave of Change, Knowledge @ Wharton 07/29/2016 An Imperfect Test: The Problem with Job Performance Appraisals, Knowledge @ Wharton 05/23/2016 Why Apprenticeships Could Make a Comeback in the U.S., Knowledge @ Wharton 05/13/2016 Better Pay or More Flexibility: It Doesn’t Have to Be a Tradeoff, Knowledge @ Wharton 05/11/2016 How Layoffs Hurt Companies, Knowledge @ Wharton 04/12/2016 Are Good Managers Born or Made?, Knowledge @ Wharton 03/15/2016 How the McDonald’s Franchise Labor Case Could Upend an Industry, Knowledge @ Wharton 03/14/2016 Job Hunting? Why You Need a Strong Online Footprint, Knowledge @ Wharton 02/02/2016 How Low Oil Prices Are Battering the MENA Region, Knowledge @ Wharton 01/19/2016 Is Now the Best Time to Have a Baby in Corporate America?, Knowledge @ Wharton 10/30/2015 The Immigration ‘Boogeyman’: Separating Fact from Fiction, Knowledge @ Wharton 09/30/2015 Business Simplification in Human Resources: New Tools for Managing Today’s Workforce, Knowledge @ Wharton 09/15/2015 Is the Netflix Leave Policy a Gift to Workers or Ill Conceived?, Knowledge @ Wharton 08/10/2015 ‘Will College Pay Off?’ A Surprising Costbenefit Analysis, Knowledge @ Wharton 06/15/2015 Mental Health in the Workplace: How We Can Move Beyond the Stigma, Knowledge @ Wharton 05/28/2015 Has Human Resources Lost Its Edge in a Techdriven World?, Knowledge @ Wharton 05/19/2015 Thailand: Can the Whimpering Tiger Spring Ahead?, Knowledge @ Wharton 03/11/2015 The Economy Is Coming Back — Why Are Wages Stuck in a Rut?, Knowledge @ Wharton 02/23/2015 Why Paid Sick Leave Is the Easiest Way to Combat Inequality, Knowledge @ Wharton 02/03/2015 If Not 40 Hours, Then What? Defining the Modern Work Week, Knowledge @ Wharton 01/28/2015 How Colleges — and Employers — Fail to Prepare Students for Work, Knowledge @ Wharton 01/15/2015 There Are Kinder Ways to Lay People Off – So Why Don’t We Use Them?, Knowledge @ Wharton 12/10/2014 Back to the Future: When the CEO Returns, Knowledge @ Wharton 11/25/2014 Sharing Economy 2.0: Can Innovation and Regulation Work Together?, Knowledge @ Wharton 11/05/2014 Contempt, Crazy Hours and the Economics of Quitting Your Job, Knowledge @ Wharton 10/09/2014 Can a Robot Be Your Boss?, Knowledge @ Wharton 09/10/2014 No More Working for Peanuts: The State of the Intern, Knowledge @ Wharton 07/01/2014 Silicon Valley’s Nopoaching Case: The Growing Debate over Employee Mobility, Knowledge @ Wharton 04/30/2014 Prestige Events in the Gulf Turn the Spotlight on Labor Practices, Knowledge @ Wharton 02/14/2014 Seeking Their Fortune: The Career Path for Top Executives in Big Companies, Knowledge @ Wharton 02/11/2014 The Complex Economics of America’s Minimum Wage, Knowledge @ Wharton 11/11/2013 When Headhunters Call, a Surprising Number of Executives Answer, Knowledge @ Wharton 09/26/2013 Will Microsoft’s Reorganization Pay Off?, Knowledge @ Wharton 07/17/2013 Job Discrimination Against the Disabled: Not Just an Academic Issue, Knowledge @ Wharton 06/18/2013 Balancing the Pay Scale: ‘Fair’ vs. ‘Unfair’, Knowledge @ Wharton 05/22/2013 Productivity in the Modern Office: A Matter of Impact, Knowledge @ Wharton 05/08/2013 Corruption in India: Multinationals Join the Accused, Knowledge @ Wharton 02/19/2013 Is Raising the Minimum Wage a Good Idea?, Knowledge @ Wharton 02/18/2013

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