BackForwardHomeWharton Now

Broad Impact

As the broadest and deepest business school in the world, Wharton has profoundly influenced nearly every business discipline. Areas of impact include risk and insurance, health care, law and ethics, real estate and public policy.

     
 

 

Creating Insurance Education
Wharton Professor Solomon S. Huebner was the "dean" of the life insurance industry, helping to create the profession through education and the establishment of the Chartered Life Underwriters (CLU) certification. During the 1920s — a time when insurance was Wharton's most vigorous business specialty — Huebner led the remarkably successful movement to elevate the business of life insurance sales to a profession through creating the CLU certification, similar to the accounting field's CPA. At a gala in 1940, 1,200 leaders of the insurance industry turned out to honor Huebner and establish the S.S. Huebner Foundation for Insurance Education. Professor Dan McGill, founding director of Wharton's Pension Research Council, pointed the way to reforms embodied in the landmark 1974 Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Under the leadership of Professors Jerry Rosenbloom and Jean Lemaire, Wharton continued to strengthen the reputation of what is recognized as the strongest insurance department in the world. A cross-disciplinary team of faculty, working in conjunction with Wharton's Risk Management and Decision Processes Center, is now examining significant societal issues such as siting facilities for toxic waste and global risks. Working in partnership with Wharton's Financial Institutions Center, the Risk Management and Decision Processes Center has also launched a multi-year research effort on managing catastrophic risks. In the complex and controversial area of Social Security reform and retirement planning, Professor Olivia Mitchell, executive director of the Pension Research Council, is among the world's leading scholars.

 



Solomon S. Huebner (front row, second from right) and the Insurance Department Faculty in 1931.

 
 

 

Managing Health Care Systems

In 1967, Wharton created the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, which had a national impact on the management of health care systems and set the standard for that field. The Institute's mission was, and is, to serve as a multi-disciplinary research institute focused on the economic, behavioral, and public policy aspects of health care delivery and financing. The Institute, a precursor to the Health Care Systems Department (the first such department created at a business school), was the brainchild of Founding Director Robert Eilers, professor of insurance at Wharton and community medicine at Penn's School of Medicine. Eilers established the Institute to serve as a bridge between medicine and Wharton, realizing that an educational component was crucial to the Institute's credibility within the School. That meant an MBA major, and later undergraduate and doctoral concentrations, with the specific goal of training managers and analysts of health care systems. Thus, Wharton created the first MBA program in health care management in 1970 and continues to lead in research studies of health care policy and management. Wharton's pioneering role has helped to shape health care policy in nations around the world and has contributed informed research to the debate on U.S. health care reform.

     
 

 

Analyzing Business Law and Ethics

In the 1880s, soon after Joseph Wharton determined that business law should be one of three required courses (along with finance and accounting) in his innovative design for the world's first business school, Albert Bolles, a former judge and editor of Bankers Magazine, was hired as America's first business law professor. Today, Wharton's Legal Studies Department carries on that tradition as the nation's top-ranked legal studies group. The research interests of its 15 faculty members are increasingly global, spanning topics from European environmental regulation and the problem of international bribery to global trade treaties and transnational standards for intellectual property. The group also houses the School's Ethics Program, teaching required courses in business ethics to thousands of students each year. Most recently, the department has taken a leading role in developing Wharton's course offerings on negotiation, and in 1999, Legal Studies Chairperson G. Richard Shell published a best-selling book on negotiation entitled Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies for Reasonable People. The Carol and Lawrence Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research, housed in the Legal Studies Department, recently sponsored major conferences on ethical issues in financial services and social contracts as an approach to ethical theorizing. The Center will begin exploring the area of "social screening" of investments by mutual funds and other investors as well as international business ethics.

 



G. Richard Shell, Professor of Legal Studies and Management

 
 

 

Managing Real Estate and Urban Economics

The Samuel Zell and Robert Lurie Real Estate Center, established as the Wharton Real Estate Center in 1983 and endowed by Samuel Zell in 1998, is directed by Professor Joseph Gyourko. The Center is a leader in real estate education and sponsors cutting-edge research on topics of vital interest to the industry. The Center also plays a critical role in fostering discussion and forming public policy on real estate issues and publishes the Wharton Real Estate Review, a thoughtful and provocative forum for real estate's top scholars, analysts, and executives. The Center sponsors a wide variety of seminars and conferences throughout the year, including the Farash Distinguished Lecture Series and the Spring and Fall Members' Meetings. The Center supports and extends the globalization initiatives of the Wharton School through the activities of its International Housing Finance Program and the Mills Corporation International Visitor Series. The Center also serves as a liaison between Wharton faculty and students, and business professionals.

     
 

Shaping Public Policy

Joseph Wharton's vision was that graduates would become "pillars of the State," and throughout Wharton's history its faculty and alumni have made tremendous contributions to public policy in the US and around the globe. Wharton faculty have served a wide range of government bodies, including the US Federal Trade Commission, Civil Aeronautics Board, US Office of Technology Assessment, US Department of Education, and Philadelphia Federal Reserve Board. In addition, faculty members William Hamilton and Patrick Harker served as White House Fellows. During the Depression, Wharton-trained economists worked with President Franklin Roosevelt to analyze the economic landscape and develop plans to rebuild the economy. Faculty later helped lay the foundations for the 1937 Social Security Act. During World War II, Wharton Professor George W. Taylor served as chairman of the War Labor Board, which had the power to regulate wages in all industries and keep workers on the job. Wharton's Public Policy and Management Department continues to distinguish itself in research and education in this field. The Gruss Public Management Fellowship Program, which provides scholarships for business study by public policy managers, has strengthened Wharton's leadership in educating tomorrow's policy leaders.

George W. Taylor


Back to TopHomeWharton Now
Copyright The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania