Program Experience

Highlights and Key Outcomes

In Effective Decision Making: Thinking Critically and Rationally, you will learn how to:

  • Make decisions in a dynamic of uncertainty
  • Build adaptability into your decisions
  • Provide the leadership to mitigate the effects of cognitive biases
  • Understand the role of emotions and ethics in decision making
  • Develop tools to improve individual and organizational decision making

Experience & Impact

In an uncertain business environment, a major challenge is being a decisive, strategic leader. Effective Decision Making: Thinking Critically and Rationally is designed to improve your judgment and guide you to think rigorously and critically.

Wharton faculty, led by Professor Maurice Schweitzer, apply their field-based research and the latest strategic insights to help you broaden your perspective on how to influence, persuade, and make informed, strategic decisions without bias. You will be exposed to new tools and actionable knowledge that will make an immediate impact on how you lead your organization.

Wharton LIVE Programming

Real-time, synchronous peer learning

The live, virtual version of Effective Decision Making is a five-day program that will be delivered online and taught by the same Wharton faculty who teach in the on-campus program. The virtual sessions are structured to allow for extensive Q&A so that participants can discuss their respective business challenges.

Participants will have direct access to Wharton faculty throughout the program and engage in dynamic group exercises that help reinforce the learning and enable networking among the peer community.

This virtual program is a fully immersive and structured learning experience that culminates with a new set of knowledge and tools that can be put to immediate use.

Program Duration:

May 17 – 21, 2021
9:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. EDT
(daily end times may vary slightly)

Special Guest Speakers

This program will also include a virtual fireside chat with Professor Angela Duckworth, the author of the New York Times bestseller Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. Also providing instruction during the program will be Annie Duke, a former professional poker player and author of the new book How to Decide: Simple Tools for Making Better Choices.

Building Your Network

Effective Decision Making will also include opportunities for you to get to know the other participants and build your professional network. These sessions include:

  • Q&A Networking Forum
    During these sessions, faculty will examine and discuss the opportunities and challenges participants' organizations are facing. Participants act as a sounding board while simultaneously identifying the commonalities that connect the issues across organizations.

Session topics include:

  • Rule-Based Decision Making
  • Combining Opinions
  • Thinking Ethically
  • Judgment and Decision Making: The Logic of Chance
  • Trust and Cooperation
  • Power of Negative Thinking
  • Decision Hygiene
  • The Role of Data in Decision Making
  • Group Decision Making

Through highly interactive lectures, exercises, and case studies, both in the classroom and in smaller work groups, this deep dive into the art and science of decision making will enhance your effectiveness as a leader.

Convince Your Supervisor

Here’s a justification letter you can edit and send to your supervisor to help you make the case for attending this Wharton program.

Guest Speakers

Angela DuckworthAngela Duckworth, PhD
CEO of Character Lab

Angela Duckworth is the founder and CEO of Character Lab, a nonprofit whose mission is to advance scientific insights that help children thrive. She is also the Rosa Lee and Egbert Chang Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, faculty co-director of the Penn-Wharton Behavior Change for Good Initiative, and faculty co-director of Wharton People Analytics.

A 2013 MacArthur Fellow, Angela has advised the World Bank, NBA and NFL teams, and Fortune 500 CEOs.

Prior to her career in research, Angela founded a summer school for underserved children that was profiled as a Harvard Kennedy School case study and, in 2018, celebrated its 25th anniversary. She has also been a McKinsey management consultant and a math and science teacher at public schools in New York City, San Francisco, and Philadelphia.

Angela completed her undergraduate degree in Advanced Studies Neurobiology at Harvard, graduating magna cum laude. With the support of a Marshall Scholarship, she completed an MSc with Distinction in Neuroscience from Oxford University. She completed her PhD in Psychology as a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania.

Angela’s TED talk is among the most-viewed of all time. Her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance is a #1 New York Times best seller. Angela is also co-host, with Stephen Dubner, of the podcast No Stupid Questions.

Annie DukeAnnie Duke
Speaker, Decision Strategist, and Former Professional Poker Player

Annie Duke is an author, corporate speaker, and consultant in the decision-making space. Annie’s latest book is How to Decide: Simple Tools for Making Better Choices. Her previous book, Thinking in Bets, is a national bestseller. As a former professional poker player, Annie won more than $4 million in tournament poker before retiring from the game in 2012. Prior to becoming a professional player, Annie was awarded a National Science Foundation Fellowship to study cognitive psychology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Annie is the co-founder of the Alliance for Decision Education, a nonprofit whose mission is to improve lives by empowering students through decision skills education. She is also a member of the national board of After-School All-Stars and the board of directors of The Franklin Institute. In 2020, she joined the board of the Renew Democracy Initiative.

Who Should Attend

Effective Decision Making: Thinking Critically and Rationally is designed for executives who are moving from tactical to strategic roles and for those involved in cross-functional decisions. It is of particular benefit to organizations and industries whose decision-making approaches are shifting as a result of high levels of uncertainty, including telecommunications, financial services, and health care.

Participants leave the program with an expanded peer network, plus specific tools and frameworks they can use to enhance how they approach decisions across their organization.

Fluency in English, written and spoken, is required for participation in Wharton Executive Education programs unless otherwise indicated.

Participant Profile

Participants by Industry

Effective Decision Making participants by industry

Participants by Job Function

Effective Decision Making participants by job function

Participants by Region

Effective Decision Making participants by region

Plan your stay in Philadelphia

Plan Your Stay

This program is held at the Steinberg Conference Center located on the University of Pennsylvania campus in Philadelphia. Meals and accommodations are included in the program fees. Learn more about planning your stay at Wharton’s Philadelphia campus.

Group Enrollment

To further leverage the value and impact of this program, we encourage companies to send cross-functional teams of executives to Wharton. We offer group enrollment benefits to companies sending four or more participants.


Maurice Schweitzer

Maurice Schweitzer, PhDSee Faculty Bio

Academic Director

Cecilia Yen Koo Professor; Professor of Operations, Information and Decisions; Professor of Management, The Wharton School

Research Interests: Decision making, deception and trust, negotiations

Thomas Donaldson

Thomas Donaldson, PhDSee Faculty Bio

Mark O. Winkelman Professor; Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics, The Wharton School

Research Interests: Business ethics, corporate compliance, corporate governance

B Cade Massey

Cade Massey, PhDSee Faculty Bio

Practice Professor, Operations, Information and Decisions, The Wharton School

Research Interests: People analytics, judgment under uncertainty, organizational behavior

Joseph Simmons

Joseph Simmons, PhDSee Faculty Bio

Professor of Operations, Information, and Decisions, The Wharton School

Research Interests: Judgment and decision making, experimental methods, consumer behavior

Abraham Wyner

Abraham Wyner, PhDSee Faculty Bio

Professor of Statistics; Director of Undergraduate Program in Statistics; Faculty Lead of the Wharton Sports Analytics and Business Initiative, The Wharton School

Research Interests: Baseball, boosting, data compression, entropy, information theory, probabilistic modeling, temperature reconstructions

Annie Duke

Annie DukeSee Faculty Bio

Speaker, Decision Strategist, and Former Professional Poker Player


Ernest D. Haynes IIIVP & General Manager, Sonoco

The timing for taking Wharton’s Effective Decision Making: Thinking Critically and Rationally was ideal because I am moving from a sales leadership role with Payer & Health System customers to an enterprise role where more strategic thinking will be needed. In my new position my remit will be to support and build the commercial capabilities of the entire enterprise. I have been customer facing for most of my career and now I will be working with more of an in-building team where pulling out the best ideas and thinking from my teammates will be critical.

Wharton’s coursework and faculty’s way of thinking about decision making and how to be a better strategic thinker will absolutely help me in my new role. Two insights really struck me — one was strategies for how to get the best ideas, feedback, and insights from everyone on the team and how to fine-tune the ideas that surface, and the other was the thinking around randomness and how you have to be sure you are rewarding the process — not just the outcome — because oftentimes great or bad results can be driven by multiple factors, including bias.

The pharma industry faces many challenges, especially in the areas of transparency and addressing the issue of the cost of drug products to the patient. How do you find the right balance between having a profit so you can innovate but being able to bridge for patients who need to be able to afford your innovation? Whoever cracks that nut and builds that bridge between innovation, affordability, and patient access will get the keys to the kingdom. Another issue we grapple with is around accessing physicians — as an industry we essentially have the same selling model as 50 years ago. In this digital age, we have to think about how we find the right balance of face-to-face engagement as well as building other ways to inform and educate physicians in real time.

Wharton teaches you how to think about how best to approach problems like these — by using the tools that I learned in this course, I believe that in my new role, my team will net better results as we seek to solve complex issues like these facing our company and our industry. Also, now I have a broader network through Wharton that will be able to support me as I grow as a leader in my organization.”

Caroline DeMarcoVice President, Commercial Capabilities, Strategic Planning & Operations, GSK

What drew me to Wharton was its reputation and the deep selection of courses. A key takeaway for me in Effective Decision Making: Thinking Critically and Rationally was understanding the bias in qualitative information. I come from more of a quantitative background dealing with data, but as you advance through your career, the qualitative aspect of decision making becomes more important — the soft skills and our ability to use qualitative information to make effective decisions.

When it comes to strategic decision making, there are no absolutes — you frequently have to make decisions without 100 percent of the information. This class really gives you pause to consider the implications of decisions, knowing that you don’t have 100 percent of the information. This has direct relevance to my role in risk management because we don’t deal with anything that is black and white.

Wharton’s insights on qualitative decision-making bias also influenced what I wrote in an article on reputation risk that will appear in the RMA Journal.”

Joseph IraciCRO of Regulated Entities & Managing Director of Financial Risk Management, TD Ameritrade

I am the director of the John Templeton Foundation’s character development portfolio. I oversee 60 grants that include research and programmatic grants focusing on advancing the science and practice of character. My greatest challenge is identifying the proposals that will yield important information about the cultivation of good character.

In Effective Decision Making: Thinking Critically and Rationally we heard the latest research from experts in business, psychology, and law. These scholars are also very talented at translating that research and making it relevant to organizations independent of industry. They sparked a lot of my own thinking and ideas of ways in which we could use this research to improve the outcomes at our foundation.

We like to think our decision-making processes are objective and free of bias, but bias is a part of human nature and as the workshop highlights, you will make far better, more strategic decisions if you understand what the biases are and how they influence your thinking. I came home with dozens of pages of notes for how my organization might use this latest research on strategic decision making to improve our own practices. Personally, I consider bias on a more regular basis and more intentionally, trying to build systems into my own process to mitigate the effects of these biases.

Another lecture topic was on the logic of chance, which is very relevant to philanthropy. We spend a lot of time and resources trying to identify the best proposal to yield insights into character, but there is a lot of chance involved. We can’t guarantee results, but understanding the role chance plays in achieving an outcome is powerful.

Wharton’s program was immediately applicable to my work. We are currently going through a strategic planning process and our foundation’s president asked the senior grant-making staff to brainstorm a number of ideas to pursue in the next round of our planning; during one of our off-site retreats, she used Wharton’s process for brainstorming.

It was also great to have different perspectives in the program. We had participants from Nigeria, South Korea, and Brazil, and when the law professor shared a case study about Walmart and their practices abroad in the context of ethical decision making — specifically around the issue of bribery — it was fascinating to hear from individuals who do a lot of work abroad who could provide greater context.

To conclude, this was an outstanding program, which would be valuable for any executive in any field. It’s about better thinking — becoming more cognizant of how to make better decisions.”

Sarah ClementDirector of Character Virtue Development, John Templeton Foundation

I decided to attend the Effective Decision Making: Thinking Critically and Rationally program at Wharton to help me make even more effective decisions. As a result of my attending, I was able to broaden my strategic-thinking perspective based on insights from their highly impressive team of professors and colleagues who attended from a diverse range of functions, industries, and countries.

There were several key takeaways that I have been able to leverage in my day-to-day work responsibilities, including the following:

  • You cannot judge the quality of individual decisions based on their outcomes; instead, the quality should be judged on the process that was used to make them
  • People tend to be overly precise while they should consider a much larger range of possibilities
  • Even dramatically different outcomes can be purely the product of chance

My overall experience exceeded my expectations. I plan on keeping in touch with a few of the colleagues whom I met and I certainly expect to find my way back to Wharton!”

Jonathan HirschmannAnimal Health Executive

Date, Location, & Fees

May 17 – 21, 2021LIVE Virtual$6,2009:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. EDT
(daily end times may vary slightly)

Download the program schedule, including session details.

Download ScheduleApply Now

Hotel Information

Fees for the on-campus program include accommodations and meals. Prices are subject to change.

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