Wharton School professor Lawrence Hrebiniak died in his home at the age of 78 on Jan. 18 due to pulmonary heart failure.
An Emeritus Associate Professor in the Management Department of the Wharton School, Hrebiniak was an international lecturer, author, and expert in corporate management strategy.
Hrebiniak received his bachelor’s degree in economics from Cornell University in 1964 before attending the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he received both an MBA in strategic management and a Ph.D. in management, according to a Wharton press release.
Hrebiniak worked at the Ford Motor Company, later also serving as a consultant prior to his academic career. He began teaching classes at Pennsylvania State University in 1971 before joining the Wharton Management Department in 1976 and receiving tenure in 1980, the press release said.
As an expert in management strategy, Hrebiniak played a significant role in developing courses on the subject for Wharton's MBA and Executive Education programs. He received many awards for teaching excellence, including the Miller-Sherred Award for three consecutive years (1994-1996).
Aside from teaching, Hrebiniak was an accomplished author. His works include "Implementing Strategy" with co-author William F. Joyce and "Making Strategy Work: Leading Effective Execution and Change."
Among colleagues, Hrebiniak was known for his expertise and congeniality.
“[Hrebiniak] was always upbeat, energetic, and positive. He was very passionate about his work on strategy implementation and on leadership. Based on a lot of exposure to managerial practice, his ideas were very well-received by students in all his courses,” Wharton Management Professor Harbir Singh told the Wharton Newsroom.
“[Hrebiniak] was foremost a team player, where the ‘team’ was the Management Department. He was always engaged and ever-present in his office and at every Departmental event, be it academic or social,” Wharton Management Professor Nicolaj Siggelkow told the Wharton Newsroom.
Upon Hrebiniak’s retirement in 2017, Associate Director Roxanne Gilmer of the Management Department told the Wharton Newsroom that Hrebiniak insisted on having a simple lunch with the staff, "his buddies," rather than a fancy party.
“It’s my belief that,, at the conclusion of our lives, what we are most remembered for is the way we made people feel in our presence, and I always walked away from Larry with a smile. He was a joy to be around,” Gilmer said.
Outside of Penn, Hrebiniak was an outdoorsman who enjoyed gardening, fly fishing, and golf. He also enjoyed visiting museums and watching murder mysteries.
Despite being drafted out of high school to play professional baseball for the Cincinnati Reds, Hrebiniak chose college. While at SUNY-Buffalo and Cornell, he played football and baseball. After a knee injury cut short his athletic career, he remained a fan of the sports, following the Phillies and Eagles. He also served on the Radnor Township planning commission, according to his obituary in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Hrebiniak is survived by his son, Justin Hrebiniak, his brother, Greg Hrebiniak, and two nephews. He dedicated his book “Making Strategy Work” to his wife, Donna, who passed away in 1994.
“Larry deeply believed in the importance of strategy for business success, and he wanted to make sure that his students understood that, too. That’s why he put so much heart and soul into his work,” Wharton Dean Erika James said in a press release. “He left an indelible mark on this school, and we honor his memory.”