Public Sector & Government


Government and public-sector agencies face a dramatically different funding landscape today. The shrinking economy and repercussions from the financial crisis have made many agencies dependent on public-private partnerships in addition to government funding. This has radically changed how the public sector does business.

At Wharton Executive Education, we help government and public-sector agencies manage change, create alliances, and navigate through uncertain times. Working across organizational silos, achieving results in complex matrixed organizations, fostering innovation — we specialize in helping decision-makers achieve actionable results with these and other public sector challenges.


Navigating cross-cultural communication and overcoming regulatory hurdles are among the greatest challenges that face government and public-sector organizations. Because of the global nature of the business today, challenges arise when stakeholders must communicate with those outside their regions or sectors. Wharton Executive Education has experience working with organizations like yours to help your people work through different channels, break down organizational silos, and increase their level of impact in public-private partnerships. Our expertise includes:

Collaborative Program Design

We partner with you to identify what your organization’s challenges are. Then, we design the educational program that will create the most impact for your participants. This may include action learning projects, site visits, or lectures by faculty and industry experts.

Management and Leadership Education

Specialists can make great leaders, but first, they need to learn how. Many talented people rise in government and public-sector organizations based on their technical expertise. Many of these individuals also have great potential, or significant inherent leadership skills. Through customized programming, we provide an opportunity for them to develop skills, such as managing through uncertainty, influence and persuasion, and leadership communication while expanding on existing public policy.

Strategic Thinking

In today’s competitive funding environment, on-the-ground decisions must be tied to an organization’s overall mission. Successful employees need improved project execution skills, and the ability to work within complex organizations. Our custom solutions will prepare your people to lead through uncertainty, communicate effectively with stakeholders, and make strategic decisions for the greater good.

We also create programs devoted to crucial business topics, such as:

  • Innovation
  • Change Management
  • Scenario Planning
  • Critical Thinking
  • Influence and Persuasion
  • Ethics
  • Effective Communication
  • Risk Management
  • Innovation In a Changing World

By tailoring each custom program to your organization’s needs, we deliver knowledge for immediate impact.

Thought Leadership

Wharton Executive Education creates educational experiences that will transform the way your entity does business. In creating a custom engagement, we may draw on the following Wharton resources:

Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative

The Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative (Penn Wharton PPI), with offices both at Penn and in Washington, DC, is a hub for public policy research and education with one overarching goal: to leverage the University’s resources to foster better-informed policymaking, at the national level, on issues related to business and the economy. The Initiative serves as an honest broker of data and rigorous, fact-driven, independent analyses that inform the public debate on key questions essential for promoting national growth and stability. At the same time, the Initiative also creates new avenues for students to explore the issues, preparing them to become the next generation of thought leaders in public policy and government service. Visit the Initiative's website »

Fels Institute of Government

Founded in 1937, the Fels Institute of Government is the University of Pennsylvania’s graduate program in public policy and public administration. Fels is known as the most personal and practical program in public management in the Ivy League. Fels Research & Consulting brings together proven leaders in the public sector with our top students to develop innovative solutions to our community’s most challenging issues. Channeling the resources of Penn, the Fels Institute offers expertise in various of areas to improve the service and performance of the public sector. Visit the Institute's website »

Financial Institutions Center

Technology, regulatory changes, and globalization are revolutionizing the financial services industry. The Financial Institutions Center is dedicated to addressing the many important issues that result. Through coursework and communications designed for academics, financial practitioners, and policy makers, the Center helps industry members and students of financial services keep pace with the changes that affect their lives and their work. Visit the Institute's website »

Mack Institute for Innovation Management

The Mack Institute for Innovation Management is an exclusive network that connects business leaders, researchers, world-class Wharton faculty, and students. At the Institute, thought leaders from across academic disciplines and industries come together to explore how companies survive, compete, and thrive through innovation management. The Institute’s multidisciplinary faculty and researchers develop practical approaches to managing innovation and share this knowledge through thought-provoking conferences, workshops, and publications. Visit the Institute's website »

The Penn Institute for Urban Research (Penn IUR)

This University of Pennsylvania institute is dedicated to advancing cross-disciplinary urban-focused research, instruction, and civic engagement on issues relevant to cities around the world. As the global population becomes increasingly urban, understanding cities is vital to informed decision-making and public policy at the local, national, and international levels. Visit the Institute's website »

Tools & Solutions

We have partnered with a range of world-class public agencies to create transformative executive education experiences. Here's a sampling of same of our custom engagements:

Third Way’s Congressional Business School Day at Wharton

Since 2012, Wharton has worked with the independent think tank Third Way to educate Capitol Hill staffers on both sides of the political aisle about capital markets. Wharton faculty lead sessions that cover topics such as "Currency Manipulation in Capital Markets" and "Market Structure for U.S. Equities" to more specific explorations of derivatives, systemic risk in banking, and IPOs. This highly interactive program ensures that staffers, many of whom have a law degree or an MBA, have opportunities to question leading Wharton academics, learn new vocabulary and concepts, and develop more sophisticated understandings of finance topics that have bearing on their work developing and implementing policy. The participant profile is bi-partisan and includes senior staff from the Senate Banking/House Financial Services Committee, Chiefs of Staff and Legislative Directors. The end result is a dynamic, substantive learning experience that provides participants with business insight grounded in Wharton research.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) approached Wharton Executive Education after receiving a grant to develop a leadership program in finance for senior leaders of state highway associations. AASHTO is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association that represents highway and transportation departments in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

AASHTO serves as a liaison between state departments of transportation and the federal government. With the funding landscape for infrastructure changing rapidly, AASHTO sought to enhance its senior leaders’ capabilities around the finance piece of public-private partnerships.Wharton created a four-day program in which participants fine-tuned their skills in persuasion, stakeholder management, and project finance. Since the leaders were already experts in public finance, action learning projects focused on how to make a compelling financial case for private investment in public works. Through working with Wharton faculty and industry experts brought in for the program, participants learned new ways to manage uncertainty and created scenarios around real-life issues they faced in their respective states.

Shanghai Municipal Government

For the last decade, this two-week program brought together 30 heads of state-owned enterprises and government officials from Shanghai Municipal Government, to prepare these leaders to broaden their global view, learn from the international best practice in management and build the business knowledge and leadership capabilities to continue Shanghai’s rapid rise. Past participants include the Chairman of Shanghai Automotive Group, a Global 500 firm (ranked 17 in China).

Wharton developed the curriculum to reflect Shanghai Municipal Government’s mission to implement the strategies, guidelines and policies of the development of national economy and society, and put forward relevant policy measures. Wharton’s curriculum focused on arming the participants with the leadership skills and market knowledge to serve this growing municipality. They learned latest trends in economic development of international financial markets, and the role of governments in a changing global environment. They also delved into topics such as talent management and motivation, how to lead a learning organization, and strategic thinking and decision making in an uncertain world. Group discussions reinforced to participants how to implement to best apply their new global business acumen to best serve Shanghai’s growth.

Future Leaders Program — Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi

Wharton designed this 10-day leadership program in 2013 for the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi. The program was designed for their high-potential managers who are being groomed to take on more senior roles in the government. The program featured both an action learning project and a live case study of the American City. The program was aligned with the Crown Prince Courts’ 2030 strategic plan for the country.

Global Leadership Program — Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB)/Income Tax Department of India

The Wharton School and the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore have jointly hosted a Global Leadership Program twice a year for the last few years. The September 2013 program targeted 30 chief commissioners of the Indian Revenue Service’s 30 chief commissioners, who are the second most senior tier of the Indian Tax Department. They spent three weeks at IIMB before coming to Wharton for the global component of their program. They participated in team-change projects throughout the engagement, applying new skills as they moved through the programming. The 10-day Wharton program includes course lectures as well as trips to NYC and Washington, DC.

Fortaleza Executive Leadership Program

Fortaleza, the state capital of Ceará, located in Northeastern Brazil, wanted to lead the charge to bring world-class business acumen to the region. They collaborated with Wharton on a leadership and strategy program targeting the city’s upper to senior-level managers and business owners.

The six-day program includes three modules. Participants will gather in Brazil for the first two modules in the spring and summer, with Wharton hosting the final module in September 2014 in Philadelphia. The first module will focus on leadership conversations, the second will cover managing strategically, and the third will link finance to corporate strategy. A total of 25 business leaders are participating in this inaugural program, which is designed to that help these leaders think more strategically about their businesses and to communicate their organization’s vision more clearly to key stakeholders.


  • Joseph Gyourko, PhD

    Martin Bucksbaum Professor of Real Estate, Finance and Business Economics, & Public Policy, The Wharton School

    Research Interests: Housing markets, real estate finance and real estate economicsSee Faculty Bio

  • Witold Henisz, PhD

    Deloitte & Touche Professor of Management in Honor of Russell E. Palmer, former Managing Partner; The Wharton School

    Research Interests: Stakeholder engagement, political and economic reform, project managementSee Faculty Bio

  • Richard Herring, PhD

    Jacob Safra Professor of International Banking, Professor of Finance, The Wharton School

    Research Interests: International banking, international finance, money and bankingSee Faculty Bio

  • Erwann Michel-Kerjan, PhD

    Adjunct Associate Professor of Operations, Information, and Decisions; Executive Director, Wharton Risk Center, The Wharton School

    See Faculty Bio

  • Philip M Nichols, PhD

    Class of 1940 Bicentennial Term Chair Associate Professor of the University of Pennsylvania; Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics, The Wharton School

    Research Interests: Emerging economies, corruption, international trade and investmentSee Faculty Bio

  • Todd Sinai, PhD

    Professor of Real Estate and Business Economics and Public Policy, The Wharton School

    Research Interests: Commercial real estate and real estate investment trusts, real estate and public economics, risk and pricing in housing markets, taxation of real estate and capital gainsSee Faculty Bio