As HBS gained credibility as a training ground for business leaders, fewer of those young leaders saw themselves as factory managers. The Depression also hurt the School’s production courses: why train for manufacturing that wasn’t going on?

In response to these objections, Franklin Folts and others developed a broad-gauge production course in the years immediately preceding World War II. For example, during the first four weeks of the course as taught in September 1940, introductory courses emphasized that factory problems had to be considered as an integral part of larger corporate issues. The second half-year emphasized problems of organization and personnel.

This broader focus served the School well in the mobilization that occurred prior to the U.S.’s entry into World War II, and during the war years. The groundwork laid by Folts and his colleagues positioned the School to offer war production training for executives—which in turn prepared the faculty to offer executive education at a senior level in the postwar years.