Lawton R. Burns

Lawton R. Burns
  • James Joo-Jin Kim Professor, Professor of Health Care Management
  • Professor of Management

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    203 Colonial Penn Center
    3641 Locust Walk
    Philadelphia, PA 19104

Research Interests: formal organizations, health care management, hospital-physician relationships, integrated health care, physician networks, physician practice management firms, strategic change, supply chain management

Links: CV, Personal Website



PhD, University of Chicago, 1981; MBA, University of Chicago, 1984; MA, University of Chicago, 1976; BA, Haverford College, 1973

Recent Consulting

Analysis of the pharmaceutical outsourcing market, IMB, 2003-04; Antitrust implications of PHOs, Federal Trade Commission, 2004; Development of integrated delivery systems, Illinois Hospital Association, 1994-97

Career and Recent Professional Awards; Teaching Awards

2003: Board of Institute of Medicine, Health Services Research Section; 2001: Arthur Anderson Distinguished Visitor, University of Cambridge (UK); 1999:Teacher of the Year, Administrative Medicine Program, School of Medicine, University of Wisconsin; 1992-93: Edwin Crosby Memorial Fellowship, Hospital Research and Educational Trust; 1990-91: Udall Fellowship, Udall Center for Public Policy; 1997: Invited Lecture Series, Catholic University of Rome, Luiss, and National Agency for Health Care Services (Rome)

Academic Positions Held

Wharton: 1994-present (Chairperson, Health Care Systems Department, 2008-present; named James Joo-Jin Kim Professor, 1999; Director, Wharton Center for Health Management and Economics, 1999-present). Previous appointments: University of Arizona; University of Chicago. Visiting appointment: University of Wisconsin

Professional Leadership 2005-2009

Editorial Board, Health Services Research, 1994-present


Lawton Robert Burns, Ph.D., MBA, is the Chair of the Health Care Management Department, the James Joo-Jin Kim Professor, a Professor of Health Care Management, and a Professor of Management in the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also Director of the Wharton Center for Health Management & Economics, and Co-Director of the Roy & Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management.  He received his doctorate in Sociology and his MBA in Health Administration from the University of Chicago. Dr. Burns taught previously in the Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago and the College of Business Administration at the University of Arizona.

Dr. Burns has analyzed physician-hospital integration over the past 25 years. In recognition of this research, Dr. Burns was named the Edwin L. Crosby Memorial Fellow by the Hospital Research and Educational Trust in 1992. Dr. Burns has also published several papers on hospital systems and physician group practices. The last 13 years he spent studying the healthcare supply chain. He completed a book on supply chain management in the healthcare industry, The Health Care Value Chain (Jossey-Bass, 2002), and a recent analysis of alliances between imaging equipment makers and hospital systems. These studies focus on the strategic alliances and partnerships developing between pharmaceutical firms/distributors, disposable manufacturers, medical device manufacturers, group purchasing organizations, and organized delivery systems.  He has also edited The Business of Healthcare Innovation (Cambridge University Press, 2012) which analyzes the healthcare technology sectors globally: pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical devices, and information technology. Most recently, he has served as lead editor of the 6th Edition of the major text, Healthcare Management: Organization Design & Behavior (Delmar, 2011). His latest book, India’s Healthcare Industry, was just published in 2014 (Cambridge University Press, 2014).

Dr. Burns teaches courses on healthcare strategy, strategic change, strategic implementation, organization and management, managed care, and integrated delivery networks. From 1998-2002, he was a Visiting Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, where he taught corporate strategy to physicians. Dr. Burns also received an Investigator Award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to study the reasons for failure in organizational change efforts by healthcare providers. He is a past member of the Grant Review Study Section for the Agency for Health Care Policy & Research, and a past board member of the Health Services Section of the Institute of Medicine. He is also a Life Fellow of Clare Hall at the University of Cambridge.


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All Courses

  • HCMG2130 - Hc Mgmt&Strat

    This course presents an overview of the business of health and how a variety of health care organizations have gained, sustained, and lost competitive advantage amidst intense competition, widespread regulation, high interdependence, and massive technological, economic, social and political changes. Specifically, we evaluate the challenges facing health care organizations using competitive analysis, identify their past responses, and explore the current strategies they are using to manage these challenges (and emerging ones) more effectively. Students will develop generalized skills in competitive analysis and the ability to apply those skills in the specialized analysis of opportunities in producer (e.g. biopharmaceutical, medical product, information technology), purchaser (e.g. insurance), and provider (e.g. hospitals, nursing homes, physician) organizations and industry sectors. The course is organized around a number of readings, cases, presentations, and a required project.

  • HCMG8410 - Intro Health Mgmt & Econ

    This course provides an introduction to the field of health care economics and management. Using an economic approach, the course will provide an overview of the evolution, structure and current issues in the health care ecosystem. It examines the unique features of health care services, products and markets, with a specific focus on the changing relationships between patients, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, communities, and government. In particular, the course focuses on three broad segments of the health care industry: payors, providers, and producers. NOTE: This is a required course for Wharton Graduate Health Care Management majors; it counts as an elective course for all other Wharton Graduate students. It is also open to Law School and Nursing School students with a joint Wharton Program.

  • HCMG8450 - US Payer Provider Strat

    This course, co-taught with Brad Fluegel (former Chief Strategy Officer at Aetna, Anthem, and Walgreens and presently on the boards of several health care firms, including Fitbit and Premera Blue Cross), provides an overview of the challenges facing payers and providers in US healthcare as well as the strategies they use (or should use) to succeed. We cover all major aspects of the healthcare sector as seen from the perspective of payers and providers, starting from their core products and services (consumer preferences and health plan design, provider quality), the market environment they operate in (regulation and the role of public insurers, payment reforms, rising costs, and consolidation), and their strategic and operational responses (new organization models, mergers and acquisitions, and new ventures). The pedagogy is accordingly a mix of faculty lectures and talks by senior industry leaders to balance theory and practice.

  • HCMG8990 - Independent Study

    Arranged with members of the Faculty of the Health Care Systems Department. For further information contact the Department office, Room 204, Colonial Penn Center, 3641 Locust Walk, 898-6861.

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How Employers Are Reining in Prescription Drug Costs

The rise of smaller pharmacy benefit managers is part of a larger pushback in an industry segment dominated by three big players, says Wharton's Lawton R. Burns.Read More

Knowledge at Wharton - 3/25/2024
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