The Center for Human Resources is a hub for academics and practitioners interested in human capital issues including the practice of human resources as well as vendors in the human capital industry. Access the most current thinking on talent management, workforce training and education, diversity and more through our faculty research and our networking opportunities with fellow HR executives from around the world.
The Center hosts membership groups composed of senior human resources executives who participate in regular meetings and programs developed by the Center. The Center co-hosts the annual Wharton Leadership Conference each June and hosts an annual People & Organizations academic conference in the fall as well as Financial Services Group and Research Advisory Group roundtables throughout the year.
The Center also provides funding for faculty and doctoral students to pursue their research agendas in the HR and management-related fields.
Our History: First Research Center
The Center for Human Resources was founded in 1921 as the Wharton School’s Industrial Research Unit (the first research center ever established at a business school) to study the economic and social problems of business. Under the direction of Professors Anne Bezanson, the first female member of the standing faculty of Penn’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and Joseph Willits, a Wharton dean, the Unit began its growth into worldwide attention for its pioneering studies of industrial relations; for its analysis of the problems and economics of specific industries; for its entrepreneurial histories; and, later, for its research into pricing history, labor migration and mobility, and productivity.
The direction of the Center has changed considerably over the years to reflect changing issues in the workplace. The interest in unions and industrial relations gave way to broader concerns around hiring, retention, new employee relations issues associated with new legislation and regulations, and much greater focus on white collar and executive jobs. A five-year research program with the U.S. Department of Education advanced the idea of improving the connection between school and work, and collaborative work with the National Planning Association was the first to document the shift of business risk onto employees. The research supported by the Center now follows very closely contemporary issues in the business community where, for example, talent management is often rated as the biggest challenge, and in the press where labor market outcomes (e.g., who gets jobs and who doesn’t) continue to be a hot topic.
The Center’s mission remains to promote the exchange of ideas between executives in the human resources and employee relations fields and the faculty who teach and research in these fields and to disseminate research findings through an active program of conferences, interactive meetings and seminars, and publications.
Center for Human Resources
The Wharton School
University of Pennsylvania
3620 Locust Walk, SH-DH
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6301