Larry Hrebiniak, 78, of Bryn Mawr, a longtime expert on corporate management strategy, associate professor emeritus in the marketing department at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, international lecturer, and author, died Tuesday, Jan. 18, of pulmonary heart failure at home.
A sales and marketing analyst, and district field manager at Ford Motor Co. before he joined Penn in 1976, Professor Hrebiniak used his real-world experience and extensive education to help develop management strategy courses for Penn’s master’s and executive education programs. He became tenured at Penn in 1980 and taught classes in competitive strategy and strategy implementation.
“Good strategies make demands on an organization,” he said in a 2016 online interview. “If the strategy isn’t well-thought out, they have problems.”
He served as course coordinator and adviser in Wharton’s management department, was a senior research fellow at Penn’s Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, and received excellence in teaching awards from the university in 1994, 1995, 1996, and 2008.
He was a regular on Penn’s Wharton Report that aired on the Financial News Network, and colleagues said in an online tribute that his “expertise and affable nature made him a favorite with business media.” He was quoted often in The Inquirer about Radnor Township planning matters and corporate management issues.
Professor Hrebiniak was a longtime management consultant for dozens of companies and organizations around the world, including AT&T, Isuzu, DuPont, Microsoft, Bristol Meyers-Squibb, and Chase Manhattan Bank. He was active with the New York-based Academy of Management and spoke at meetings, conferences, and forums on a wide variety of management topics across the country and in England, Germany, Spain, Mexico, France, the Netherlands, and elsewhere.
He edited, reviewed, and published dozens of papers, articles, and chapters in academic journals, handbooks, and magazines, and authored several books, including Implementing Strategy, with coauthor William F. Joyce, in 1984, and Making Strategy Work: Leading Effective Execution and Change in 2005.
Regarding his 2008 book, The Mismanagement of America, Inc., Professor Hrebiniak said of the U.S. government: “The top management team is not performing. They’re performing better for some than others. … But overall they’re not performing very well.”
Born Feb. 22, 1943, in Jersey City, N.J., Professor Hrebiniak earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Cornell University in 1964, and a master’s degree in strategic management in 1968 and a doctorate in management in 1971 from the State University of New York at Buffalo.
After working at Ford for four years, he taught management classes at SUNY-Buffalo and Pennsylvania State University, where he won teaching awards in 1974 and 1976, before joining the faculty at Penn. He retired in 2017.
He was a natural athlete and outdoorsman and was drafted out of high school to play professional baseball for the Cincinnati Reds. But he chose college, and an injury on the football field cut short his baseball career.
He met Donna Williams in Buffalo, and they married and had son Justin. She died in 1994. “He was smart and kind and sensitive to people,” said longtime friend Laura Marmar. “He was witty and just a good guy.”
Away from work, Professor Hrebiniak liked to garden, visit museums, and watch murder mysteries on TV. He enjoyed opera and golf, followed the Phillies and Eagles, and served on the Radnor Township planning commission.
He traveled the world to fly-fish in lakes, streams, and bays, and shared a boat with his brother, Greg. The brothers spoke on the phone nearly every Sunday, chatting about fishing, politics, history, literature, and their Ukrainian heritage.
“He was friendly, easy to get along with,” said his brother. “If he saw a spark of intelligence in you, he would go out of his way to help you.”
In addition to his brother and son, Professor Hrebiniak is survived by other relatives.
Private services were held earlier.
Donations in his name may be made to Habitat for Humanity, 322 West Lamar St., Americus, Ga. 31709.