Schoemaker, Paul J. H. 1949-

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SCHOEMAKER, Paul J. H. 1949-


Born 1949, in Deventer, Netherlands; son of Paul (an entrepreneur) and Betty Vaessen (a homemaker) Schoemaker; married Joyce A. Maggiore (a microbiologist, educator, and writer), July 14, 1973. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: University of Notre Dame, B.S., (magna cum laude), 1972; Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, M.B.A. (finance), 1974, M.A. (management), Ph.D. (decision sciences). Politics: "Compassionate Conservatism." Religion: Catholic (non-practicing). Hobbies and other interests: Piano playing, tennis, and golf. Enjoy ethnic cuisines with good intellectual conversation.


Office—Department of Marketing, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, 700 Jon M. Huntsman Hall, 3730 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6340. E-mail—[email protected].


University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Emerging Technologies Management Research program, instructor and director, 1974—; University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, professor in graduate school of business, 1980s; Decision Strategies International, Inc., West Conshohocken, PA, founder, chairman, and CEO, 1990—; Visiting professor, London Business School; consultant. Member of board for OmniChoice, RealHome, TLContact, Open, and VS Holdings.


American Assembly for Collegiate Schools of Business Annual Western Electric Fund Award; S.S. Huebner Foundation for Insurance Education grant; National Science Foundation, Decision and Management Program grant; Best Paper Prize of the Strategic Management Society, 2000.


Experiments on Decisions under Risk: The Expected Utility Hypothesis, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers (Boston, MA), 1980.

(With J. Edward Russo) Decision Traps: Ten Barriers to Brilliant Decision-making and How to Overcome Them, Doubleday/Currency (New York, NY), 1989.

(With Paul R. Kleindorfer and Howard C. Kunreuther) Decision Sciences: An Integrative Perspective, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1993.

(Editor with George S. Day and Robert E. Gunther) Wharton on Managing Emerging Technologies, Wiley (New York, NY), 2000.

(With J. Edward Russo) Winning Decisions: Getting It Right the First Time, Currency (New York, NY), 2002.

(With Robert E. Gunther) Profiting from Uncertainty: Strategies for Succeeding No Matter What the Future Brings, Free Press (New York, NY), 2002.

Contributor, The Quest for Optimality, edited by Jean H. P. Paelinck, Gower Publishing Company (Brookfield, VT), 1984. Author of more than seventy academic and applied papers in such publications as Harvard Business Review, Journal of Mathematical Psychology, Management Science, and Journal of Economic Literature.


Paul J. H. Schoemaker, with a doctorate in decision sciences, has specialized in strategic planning and executive development. His books on decision making have attracted wide notice and contributed to his reputation as a creative thinker on the subject of uncertainty in business.

For twelve years, Schoemaker taught seminars at the University of Chicago's Center for Decision Research. At that time, in the 1980s, his book Experiments on Decisions under Risk: The Expected Utility Hypothesis, was, according to Fortune contributor Ira Horowitz, "probably the best book-length guide for managers trying to get a handle on the promises and pitfalls of EU." Horowitz explained that "EU", or "expected utility," was then the main topic of debate at most business schools. EU is concerned with the question: "How can one go about making optimal decisions in situations characterized by risk and uncertainty?" In his book, as R. K. Sarin pointed out in Engineering Economist, Shoemaker discovers that "people's choices often violate the principles of expected utility theory" and concludes that the theory might not work in the real world because individuals do not necessarily act rationally when thinking about risk. So although the theory makes for lively classroom discussions, it might not work in life as well as it is predicted to do.

In 2000 Schoemaker, then a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and director of the school's Emerging Technologies Management Research program, helped edit Wharton on Managing Emerging Technologies. The book makes clear that new technologies will demand new business skills. "Whether they like it or not," wrote LaRoi Lawton for Journal of Organizational Excellence, the book shows that business managers and executives are going to have to get not only used to, but competent with, the technologies of the Internet and the emerging field of biotechnologies. "Since the game is different, a different set of management skills, outlines, and plans are needed," wrote Lawton. Although he found the book to be "coldly written," Justin Koherty wrote in Telecomworldwire that "This book teaches the reader how to grasp and ride the mechanical bronco bull that is emerging technologies."

Schoemaker co-authored his next book, Winning Decisions: Getting It Right the First Time, with J. Edward Russo, a business school professor at Cornell University. In this publication, Schoemaker attempts to break decision making down to four major steps: framing the decision; gathering information about that decision; coming to conclusions; and finally analyzing the experience. Schoemaker draws on case studies to highlight the individual steps, and includes worksheets that readers can use to work through the steps themselves. This is "an outstanding book" that "makes a comprehensive analytical tool," wrote a reviewer for Booklist. In a review for Inc. Paul B. Brown referred to the book as "one of the few business books published in 2001 that's worth the cover price."

In Profiting from Uncertainty: How to Succeed No Matter What the Future Brings, written with Robert E. Gunther, Shoemaker points out that "Uncertainty cannot be pinned down or coaxed into cages." In other words, in the fast-changing world of contemporary business, executives must learn to live with uncertainty. Schoemaker helps them make the best of it by advising them to plan for multiple future scenarios. He author also states that up to fifty percent of the successes of most businesses is due to general economic and industry conditions; that is, things that are beyond the control of management. Although Schoemaker admits that managers cannot predict the future, he does state that they can better prepare themselves for uncertainty. Rather than looking to business models of the past, managers must plan for many possible futures, giving them a better chance to succeed. They must be fully aware of the uncertainties of their businesses and know how they can best profit from them.

"Obstacles create opportunities, in his view," wrote Stephanie Overby for Overby concluded that Schomaker's book is "requisite reading for corporate decision makers." The book outlines four steps that can help managers to make the most of their decisions. First they must prepare for the unknown. Then they must create a clear vision of how the company will compete in all the possible future scenarios. Next, managers must build flexibility into their plans. Their companies must be able to adjust quickly to the inevitable changes in the economy and in the market. And finally, managers must be aware of what those potential changes might be. In an article posted on the WallStraits Web site, a reviewer stated: "If you are interested in learning how to build visions of multiple futures to help take advantage of an uncertain future for your business …this book will give you a solid foundation to build on with concrete ideas and methods to explore."



Booklist, November 1, 2001, review of Winning Decisions: Getting It Right the First Time, pp. 451-452.

Choice, March 1981, review of Experiments on Decisions under Risk, p. 994.

Engineering Economist, winter, 1983, R. K. Sarin, review of Experiments on Decisions under Risk, pp. 170-171.

Fortune, April 19, 1982, Ira Horowitz, review of Experiments on Decisions under Risk, pp. 201-202, 204.

Inc., February 1, 2002, Paul B. Brown, review of Winning Decisions.

Journal of Organizational Excellence, spring, 2001, LaRoi Lawton, review of Wharton on Managing Emerging Technologies, pp. 99-100.

Publishers Weekly, November 5, 2001, review of Winning Decisions, p. 56; June 3, 2002, review of Profiting from Uncertainty: How to Succeed No Matter What the Future Brings, p. 77.

Research-Technology Management, September, 2000, review of Wharton on Managing Emerging Technologies, p. 61.

Telecomworldwire, October 12, 2000, Justin Doherty, review of Wharton on Managing Emerging Technologies.

ONLINE, (January 7, 2002), Stephanie Overby, "The Upside of Uncertainty."

WallStrait Web sites, (January 7, 2003), review of Profiting from Uncertainty.

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Schoemaker, Paul J. H. 1949-

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