Lawrence (Larry) Hrebiniak, associate professor emeritus in the management department at the Wharton School, died on January 18. He was 78 years old.
Dr. Hrebiniak was born in Jersey City, New Jersey. He received an AB in economics from Cornell University in 1964, then an MBA in strategic management in 1968 and a doctorate in management three years later, both from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Dr. Hrebiniak worked for several years in various positions at Ford Motor Company, including as District Field Manager, before embarking on an academic career. He taught at SUNY Buffalo and Penn State, then joined the Wharton faculty in 1976 as an associate professor of management, earning tenure in 1980. He taught courses in competitive strategy and strategy implementation in the Wharton MBA and Executive Education programs.
Over the years, he has received several teaching excellence awards, including the Core Teaching Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Wharton MBA Program (2008) and the Wharton School’s Anvil Award for Teaching (1979, 1981, 1985, 1988- 1989, 1994-1996). Dr. Hrebiniak has published five books during his career, including Implementation strategy with co-author William F. Joyce (1984) and Making Strategy Work: Leading Effective Execution and Change (2005, with a second edition published in 2013). In 2013, he retired from Penn and achieved emeritus status.
“Larry believed deeply in the importance of strategy to business success, and he wanted to make sure his students understood that too. That’s why he put so much heart and soul into his work,” Wharton Dean Erika James said in an online tribute. “He left an indelible mark on this school, and we honor his memory.”
“He was very nice to everyone, especially the new teachers and staff,” said Nicolaj Sigglekow, professor of management. “He certainly made me feel welcome when I started as the new assistant professor. He gave me a number of very valuable tips for teaching the MBA class and how to structure my class. He was primarily a team player, where the “team” was the management department. He was always engaged and always present in his office and at every departmental event, whether academic or social.
Outside of Penn, Dr. Hrebiniak served as chairman of the Organization and Management Theory Division of the Academy of Management. He has served as a reviewer and member of editorial review boards for several academic and professional management journals, including a long tenure at Administrative Science Quarterly. For two years, he was one of four Wharton professors to provide commentary on the “Wharton Management Report”, a program broadcast daily on national television on the Financial News Network. From 1988 to 2010, he appeared on honor society Beta Gamma Sigma’s “Who’s Who in Business” list.
Dr. Hrebiniak was an avid sportsman who loved the outdoors, fly fishing and golf. He was drafted out of high school to play professional baseball for the Cincinnati Reds, but chose college instead. He played football and baseball at SUNY-Buffalo and Cornell.
Dr. Hrebiniak is survived by his son, Justin; his brother, Greg; and two nephews.