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Peter Cappelli  

Leading Expert in Human Resource Management; Professor, Wharton School of Business

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 2003-2005, 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, Co-Director 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 Post-Secondary 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 management thinkers, by NPR as one of the 50 influencers in the field of aging, 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 served 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 The New Deal at Work: Managing the Market-Driven 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 Booz-Allen), and The India Way: How India’s Top Business Leaders are Revolutionizing Management (with colleagues), which describes a mission-driven and employee-focused approach to strategy and competitiveness. 2017 book Fortune Makers takes the same approach to Chinese business leaders. His 2012 book Managing the Older Work (with Bill Novelli) dispels myths about older workers and describes how employers can best engage them. Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs 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. Will College Pay Off? explores the relationship between college degrees and jobs, identifying the factors that determine whether investments in college degrees will lead to good jobs. It was reviewed in the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, and excerpts appeared in Time Magazine, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, and other publications. Related work on managing retention, electronic recruiting, and changing career paths appears in the Harvard Business Review where the article Why We Love to Hate HR was the cover story of the August,2015 issue. Recent work on performance appraisals and agile project management with Anna Tavis also appears in HBR.

Speech Topics


The India Way: How India's Top Business Leaders Are Revolutionizing Management

Exploding growth. Soaring investment. Incoming talent waves. India's top companies are scoring remarkable successes on these frontsand more. How? Instead of adopting management practices that dominate Western businesses, they're applying fresh practices of their own in strategy, leadership, talent, and organizational culture.

Drawing on interviews with leaders of India's largest firmsincluding Reliance Industries, Infosys Technologies, and HCL TechnologiesPeter Cappelli unveils these companies' secrets to success. Some of the traits identified include:

  • Looking beyond stockholders' interests to public mission and national purpose
  • Drawing on improvisations, adaptation, and resilience to overcome endless hurdles
  • Identifying products and services of compelling value to customers
  • Investing in talent and building a stirring culture
  • Adapted from in-depth analysis and research, Peter offers valuable insights for leaders seeking to strengthen their organization's performance

Talent Management: A Business Imperative

Talent management is about finding, building and keeping the right people, while meeting the organization's business and financial needs. Companies must make this work in an environment where demand is unpredictable and the internal supply of talent is uncertainyet the business model requires the most cost-effective solution possible. Done well, talent management does not pretend to eliminate uncertainty through forecasting and planning, but identifies ways to respond and adapt to that uncertainty. Peter provides new frameworks to guide an organizations thinking about talent management as a business perspective, using economic tools such as supply chain management to manage uncertainty, reframe the "make vs. buy" people equation, and manage supply. He addresses an important talent management issue: managing employee retention.

Based on his Harvard Business Review article on the same subject, Peter explains how to think about the retention challenge from a business perspective. This includes understanding what factors cause employees to stay or leave, identifying which retention investments make sense, and learning to adapt to high turnover rates.

The New Deal at Work

The days of lifetime jobs and employee loyalty are over. Instead, competition and other market forces lead to company lay offs and employees leaving for the highest bidder. With this change has come the problems of retaining talent, making investments in development pay, and managing without commitment. Based on research from his book, "The New Deal At Work," Peter explores the developments in employment relationships that cause us to rethink our long-held assumptions about managing people. He reveals that the new arrangement shifts many of the risks of business from employer to employee, as individuals must now assume responsibility for developing their own skills and careers. Peter provides historical perspective and insight for company leaders looking to manage the current economic reality. Anyone concerned about the nation's economic policies will gain valuable insights from his findings.

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