Wharton Risk Management and
Decision Processes Center

For three decades, the Risk Management and Decision Processes Center at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania has been at the forefront of basic and applied research to promote effective corporate and public policies for low-probability events with potentially catastrophic consequences.

What We Do

Decision Processes


Understanding and improving individual decision-making in the presence of uncertainty

Risk Management


Researching and evaluating strategies for risk communication, risk reduction, and risk transfer

Public Policy


Engaging decision-makers in designing
effective risk management policies


The Policy Incubator supports novel approaches for increasing resilience through the development of visionary ideas, encouragement of innovative thinkers, and the advancement of workable on-the-ground solutions.

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Our ability to foresee and protect against natural catastrophes has never been greater, yet we fail to heed the warnings and protect ourselves and our communities. What explains this contradiction?

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Mastering Catastrophic Risk: How Companies are Coping with Disruption

Howard Kunreuther and Michael Useem

  • Draws on interviews with managers from a range of sectors that shed light on real-world experiences
  • Provides important lessons for decision makers at all levels to reduce the likelihood and curtail the costs — human, financial, and reputational — of large-scale disruptions
  • Hardcover; Published: 01 June 2018; 248 Pages; ISBN: 9780190499402


Preparing for disasters: a corporate catastrophe checklist

Featured Publications

In the News

Global Risks in 2018: What Lies Ahead?


Howard Kunreuther and Jeffrey Czajkowski discuss the key takeaways from the 2018 Global Risks Report, developed in collaboration with the Wharton Risk Center  (podcast and article)

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Americans need better disaster relief and insurance programs

The Hill

Op-ed by Carolyn Kousky: “More than 90 percent of all federal dollars for flood risk reduction are tied to presidential disaster declarations. Making better use of these dollars requires advanced planning.”

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Small Businesses Say Federal-Disaster Aid Needs Strengthening

Wall Street Journal

“After superstorm Sandy hit the northeast in 2012, 8% of firms affected by the storm borrowed money from the agency’s disaster-lending program, according to a 2016 study by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York…”

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Risk Center Updates

Policy Shock: Recalibrating Risk and Regulation after Oil Spills, Nuclear Accidents and Financial Crises

A new book from Cambridge University Press, Policy Shock, has just been released. Carolyn Kousky, Director for Policy Research and Engagement, wrote a chapter titled Revised Risk Assessments and Insurance Industry.  The chapter addresses two questions: (1) What types of events lead the (re)insurance industry to update risk assessments? (2) How do companies, consumers, and the government respond to updated risk assessments?

The Willis Research Network Autumn Seminar

Jeff Czajkowski recently spoke at the Willis Research Network Autumn Seminar held in London.  In the wake of the 2017 events impacting the U.S., the seminar’s aim was to present findings from some of the WRN’s latest scientific collaborations, alongside current analytical projects underway by Willis Re teams around the world, with an emphasis on impacts of the latest extreme weather events.  Dr. Czajkowski presented the ongoing WRN supported Wharton Risk Center research focused on tropical cyclone claims analysis between freshwater and surge claims.

Innovation in Resilience

On November 8th, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Resilient Nation Partnership Network’s 2017 Annual Forum was held in Washington, D.C.  Katherine Greig, Carolyn Kousky, and Brett Lingle ran break-out sessions introducing the new Policy Incubator and soliciting attendees’ views on the research priorities for improving household and community resilience to worsening extreme events, as well as how to build effective partnerships with the public sector.

Research Topics

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Wharton Risk Management
and Decision Processes Center

St. Leonard’s Court | Suite 130
3819 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA  19104

P: 215-898-5688
F: 215-573-2130