Philip M. Nichols

Philip M. Nichols
  • Joseph Kolodny Professor of Social Responsibility in Business
  • Professor of Legal Studies & Business Ethics

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    655 Jon M. Huntsman Hall
    3730 Walnut Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19104

Research Interests: corruption, emerging economies, international trade and investment

Links: CV



JD, Duke University, 1988; LLM, Duke University, 1988; AB, Harvard University, 1982

Career and Recent Professional Awards; Teaching Awards

Fulbright Fellowship; Hoeber Award (best article), 2011; Ralph J. Bunche Award (best international paper), 2002; Lindback Award, 2000; David W. Hauck Award for Outstanding Teaching, 1996; Excellence in Teaching Award (Undergraduate Division), 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2006, 2012, 2013;  Rappaport Core Teaching Award 2004, 2009; Intergreek Council Award for Outstanding Professor, 1996; Huntsman Program Senior Teaching Award, 2013

Academic Positions Held

Wharton: 1992-present. Visiting Appointments: National University of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, India; Korea University, Seoul, South Korea; Singapore Management University

Other Positions

President, Academy of Legal Studies in Business; Co-Chair, Anti-Corruption Law Interest Group, American Society of International Law

Judicial Clerk, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 1988-89

Reviewer, American Business Law Journal

Past Co-Chair, United Nations Committee on Electronic Commerce and Trade Facilitation Law Group (Geneve, Switzerland); Past Co-Chair, International Economic Law Group, American Society of International Law

Continue Reading


  • Philip M. Nichols and Diana C. Robertson (Eds.), Thinking About Bribery: Neuroscience, Moral Cognition, and Psychology of Bribery (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

  • Philip M. Nichols, Corruption, Business Law, and Business Ethics (Forthcoming) (University of Chicago Press, 2016)

  • Philip M. Nichols, Public Sector Corruption and the Private Business Firm (Forthcoming) (Oxford University Press, 2016)

  • Philip M. Nichols (2016), The Good Bribe, UC Davis Law Review, 49 (2), pp. 647-683.

  • Philip M. Nichols (2016), The Neomercantilist Fallacy and the Contextual Reality of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Harvard Journal on Legislation, 53, pp. 203-246.

    Abstract: This Article addresses a persistent failure in analysis of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, by scholars and policymakers alike. Many discussions of the Act approach it from a neomercantilist perspective. This approach contains three flaws. First, whereas neomercantilism envisions manipulation of the market to give advantage to national champion industries, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act was adopted for the purpose of strengthening and enhancing the integrity of the global market. A neomercantilist perspective is contrary to the purpose of the Act. Second, this Article shows that neomercantilism fundamentally misunderstands the world of business—the modern equivalent of the mercantilist fallacy. Business firms form networks of relationships with little reference to political borders, whereas neomercantilism envisions a world in which business firms are siloed by national borders. By importing this fallacy, a neomercantilist perspective invariably yields a flawed analysis. Third, Congress asked that the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act become part of a global anticorruption regime, and that request has been robustly answered. By its own definitions the Act applies only to business actors engaged in transnational activities. These business actors will also be subject to the other elements of the global regime, as will their competitors. Neomercantilism cannot account for the Act’s place in that regime. Legal analysis in general has difficulty in accounting for domestic business regulations that encompass transnational behavior. Law must overcome this difficulty or it risks becoming irrelevant to business. Analysis of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act must avoid the neomercantilist approach, not just for the sake of intellectual rigor, but also to accrue the benefits of a sound market as envisioned by Congress.

  • Philip M. Nichols (2013), Are Facilitating Payments Legal?,, 54 (1), pp. 127-155.

    Abstract: Facilitating payments are bribes paid to obtain nondiscretionary acts from government bureaucrats. These bribes are usually small in size, and might seem inconsequential. The United States’ Foreign Corrupt Practices Act1 does not even include facilitating payments among the actions that it deems criminal.2 Indeed, even though facilitating payments are bribes, they have been described as “legal” by scholars,3 businesses,4 and even the crowd-sourced repository of common wisdom, Wikipedia.5 Although seemingly inconsequential, the purported legality of facilitating payments provides a useful tour of the legal control of corruption. Persons or entities subject to the law of the United States who pay bribes to foreign government officials are not only bound by the laws of the United States, but are also bound by the laws of the polity in which they pay those bribes. The notion that certain bribes might be acceptable in some places raises questions about the de facto legality of bribes. A person or entity subject to the laws of the United States might be subject to the laws of other jurisdictions as well. Finally, the international community is calling for the elimination of exceptions for facilitating payments, in part because facilitating payments inflict the same sort of moral and structural damage on societies as do other forms of bribery.

  • Philip M. Nichols (Work In Progress), Civility as a Catalyst for Creating Generalized Trust.

  • Philip M. Nichols (Work In Progress), Codes of Conduct as Substitutes for Generalized Trust.

  • Philip M. Nichols (Work In Progress), The Rule of Law as an International Norm.

  • Philip M. Nichols (2013), Corruption, Business Law and Business Ethics, Virginia Journal of International Law.


Current Courses

  • LGST898 - Global Modular: Conducting Business In Emerging Economies: Colombia


  • WH 219 - Global Modular Course

    WH 219401

Past Courses


    The Senior Capstone Project is required for all BAS degree students, in lieu of the senior design course. The Capstone Project provides an opportunity for the student to apply the theoretical ideas and tools learned from other courses. The project is usually applied, rather than theoretical, exercise, and should focus on a real world problem related to the career goals of the student. The one-semester project may be completed in either the fall or sprong term of the senior year, and must be done under the supervision of a sponsoring faculty member. To register for this course, the student must submit a detailed proposal, signed by the supervising professor, and the student's faculty advisor, to the Office of Academic Programs two weeks prior to the start of the term.


    This course presents law as an evolving social institution, with special emphasis on the legal regulation of business in the context of social values. It considers basic concepts of law and legal process, in the U.S. and other legal systems, and introduces the fundamentals of rigorous legal analysis. An in-depth examination of contract law is included.


    This course provides an introduction to the law of corporate management and finance, focusing on large publicly held corporations. It is presented from the perspective that before too long virtually all students will serve on one or more corporate boards of directors and that each should, therefore, know about the duties owed by directors and officers to those toward whom they bear a fiduciary duty. The course covers the basic obligations of corporate directors and managers under state corporate law and the federal securities laws. It also considers the rights and responsibilities of other major stake holders in the governance of public corporations, including shareholders, creditors/bondholders, employees (including corporate executives), investment bankers, corporate lawyers, and accountants. Particular attention is given to the law of mergers and acquisitions. Important issues of social policy concerning large business corporations are also discussed.


    This course explores important issues in conducting business internationally in and with emerging economies. Much of the course attempts to define emerging economies and to understand the changes occurring in these countries. The course also examines the position of emerging economies in the global context, and how broad social issues affect the development of emerging economies and the ability to establish relationships or conduct business in emerging economies.


    What role can business play in helping to meet global societal needs, whether it involves the environment, improving health, expanding education or eradicating poverty? Is there any responsibility on the part of business to help meet those needs? What are models of successful business engagement in this area? How should success be measured? Are there limits to what businesses can and should do, and what institutional changes will enable businesses and entrepreneurs to better succeed? This survey course provides students the opportunity to engage in the critical analysis of these and other questions that lie at the foundation of social impact and responsibility as an area of study. The course involves case studies, conceptual issues, and talks by practitioners. The course is designed to help students develop a framework to address the question: How should business enterprises and business thinking be engaged to improve society in areas not always associated with business? The course is required for the secondary concentration in Social Impact and Responsibility


    A study of the nature, functions, and limits of law as an agency of societal policy. Each semester an area of substantive law is studied for the purpose of examining the relationship between legal norms developed and developing in the area and societal problems and needs.

Awards and Honors

  • Undergraduate Teaching Award, 2013
  • Undergraduate Teaching Award, 2012
  • Hoeber Award, 2011
  • Rappaport Core Teaching Award, 2009
  • Undergraduate Teaching Award, 2006
  • Rappaport Core Teaching Award, 2004
  • The Ralph J. Bunche Award for the Best International Law Paper by the Academy of Legal Studies in Business, 2002
  • Undergraduate Teaching Award, 2001
  • Lindback Award for Teaching, 2000
  • Undergraduate Teaching Award, 2000
  • Lindback Award for Teaching, 2000
  • Undergraduate Teaching Award, 1999
  • Undergraduate Teaching Award, 1998
  • Undergraduate Teaching Award, 1997
  • David W. Hauck Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching, 1996
  • Undergraduate Teaching Award, 1996
  • Intergreek Council Award for Outstanding Professor, 1996
  • Undergraduate Teaching Award, 1995
  • Undergraduate Teaching Award, 1994

In the News

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In the News

Can Venezuela Recover from Its Crisis?

There are viable, nonviolent ways of resolving Venezuela’s grave economic and political issues, experts say.

Knowledge @ Wharton - 2019/02/26
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Awards and Honors

Undergraduate Teaching Award 2013
All Awards