David A. Thomas

H. Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration, Retired

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David Thomas is H. Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He joined the HBS faculty in 1990 and became a tenured professor in 1998. He is the head of the Organizational Behavior Unit and from 2005 to 2008 served as Senior Associate Dean and Director of Faculty Recruitment

David Thomas is a recognized thought leader in the area of strategic human resource management. His research addresses issues related to executive development, cultural diversity in organizations, leadership and organizational change. He is the author of two books and over sixty cases studies and articles appearing in leading academic journals and practitioner oriented periodicals. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Executive Development Roundtable’s Marion Gislaison Award for Contributions to Executive Development Theory and Practice, Academy of Management Mentoring Legacy Award for pioneering research on mentoring, and ASQ Scholarly Contribution Award for the most influential management article published between 2001 and 2005.

He is co-author of the best selling Harvard Business Review article “Making Differences Matter: A New Paradigm for Managing Diversity.” His book Breaking Through: The Making of Minority Executives in Corporate America (with John Gabarro) has met with critical acclaim in reviews by academics and journalists, and is the recipient of the Academy of Management's George R. Terry Book Award for outstanding contribution to the advancement of management knowledge. His most recent book, Leading for Equity (with Stacey Childress and Dennis Doyle), examines urban public school district reform. 

Professor Thomas served as Course Head for the Harvard Business School's required first-year MBA course, Leadership and Organizational Behavior.  He was the faculty chair for the HBS Executive Education program, Strategic Human Resource Management, and teaches in the Public Education Leadership Program. For seven years, he taught and developed materials for the popular second-year elective course, Self-Assessment and Career Development. He is a frequent presenter in executive education programs as well as a consultant to private sector corporations, government agencies and not-for-profit organizations. Currently he teaches the popular HBS elective Power and Influence.

Professor Thomas received his Bachelor of Arts (1978), Master of Philosophy (1984) and Doctor of Philosophy (1986) degrees from Yale University. He also holds a Master of Arts (1981) in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University.

Prior to joining the faculty of the Harvard Business School, he was on the faculty of the Wharton School of Finance. Professor Thomas sits on the boards of several organizations, among them Cambridge Trust Company, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Partners Healthcare, Center for Creative Leadership and the Posse Foundation.

Featured Work

Publications

Books

  1. Leading for Equity: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Montgomery County Public Schools

    Stacey M. Childress, Dennis Doyle and David A. Thomas

    Leading for Equity tells the compelling story of the Montgomery County (Maryland) Public Schools and its transformation—in less than a decade—into a system committed to breaking the links between race and class and academic achievement. In chapters organized around six core themes, the authors lay out the essential elements of MCPS'success. They identify key lessons other districts can draw from MCPS's experience and offer a framework for applying them. A dramatic departure from "business as usual," MCPS has won nationwide attention as a compelling model for tackling the achievement and opportunity issues that confront our nation as a whole.

    Keywords: Transformation; Education; Leadership; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Performance Improvement; Social Issues;

    Citation:

    Childress, Stacey M., Dennis Doyle, and David A. Thomas. Leading for Equity: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Montgomery County Public Schools. Cambridge: Harvard Education Press, 2009. (Foreword by David Gergen.) View Details

Journal Articles

  1. Racial Diversity, Racial Asymmetries, and Team Learning Environment: Effects on Performance

    Robin J. Ely, Irene Padavic and David A. Thomas

    This paper argues that learning in cross-race interactions is critical for work teams to realize performance benefits from racial diversity but that diversity is a liability when society's negative stereotypes about racial minorities' competence inhibit such interactions. We analyze two years of data from 496 retail bank branches to investigate racial asymmetries in the dynamics of team learning and their impact on the link between diversity and bottom-line performance. As expected, minorities' negative assessments of their team's learning environment precipitate a negative relationship between diversity and performance, irrespective of white teammates' assessments; only when both groups view the team's learning environment as supportive-implying that the team has successfully countered the negative effects of societal stereotypes on cross-race learning-is the relationship positive. We conclude that acknowledging the impact of societal asymmetries between racial groups, especially in regard to learning, can reorient research about the link between identity-group-based diversity and performance.

    Keywords: Groups and Teams; Performance; Learning; Diversity Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Ely, Robin J., Irene Padavic, and David A. Thomas. "Racial Diversity, Racial Asymmetries, and Team Learning Environment: Effects on Performance." Organization Studies 33, no. 3 (March 2012): 341–362. View Details
  2. The Effects of Diversity on Business Performance: Report of the Diversity Research Network

    T. Kochan, K. Bezrukova, R. Ely, S. Jackson, A. Joshi, K Jehn, J. Leonard, D. Levine and D. Thomas

    Keywords: Networks; Research; Performance; Diversity Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Kochan, T., K. Bezrukova, R. Ely, S. Jackson, A. Joshi, K Jehn, J. Leonard, D. Levine, and D. Thomas. "The Effects of Diversity on Business Performance: Report of the Diversity Research Network." Human Resource Management 42, no. 1 (spring 2003): 3–21. View Details
  3. Cultural Diversity at Work: The Moderating Effects of Work Group Perspectives on Diversity

    R. J. Ely and D. A. Thomas

    Keywords: Perspective; Groups and Teams; Jobs and Positions; Diversity Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Ely, R. J., and D. A. Thomas. "Cultural Diversity at Work: The Moderating Effects of Work Group Perspectives on Diversity." Administrative Science Quarterly 46 (June 2001): 229–273. (

    Winner of Administrative Science Quarterly Award for Scholarly Contribution Given annually for the most significant paper in the field of organization studies published in ASQ five years earlier​

    .) View Details
  4. Constellations and Careers: Toward Understanding the Effects of Multiple Developmental Relationships

    M. C. Higgins and D. A. Thomas

    Keywords: Personal Development and Career; Growth and Development; Relationships;

    Citation:

    Higgins, M. C., and D. A. Thomas. "Constellations and Careers: Toward Understanding the Effects of Multiple Developmental Relationships." Journal of Organizational Behavior 22, no. 3 (May 2001). View Details

Book Chapters

  1. A Positive Approach to Studying Diversity in Organizations

    Lakshmi Ramarajan and David A. Thomas

    Keywords: Research; Organizations; Diversity Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Ramarajan, Lakshmi, and David A. Thomas. "A Positive Approach to Studying Diversity in Organizations." Chap. 41 in The Oxford Handbook of Positive Organizational Scholarship, edited by Kim S. Cameron and Gretchen M. Spreitzer, 552–565. Oxford University Press, 2011. View Details
  2. Theory for Practice: Making Sense of Race Relations in Organizations

    D. A. Thomas and Karen Proudford

    Keywords: Organizational Culture; Race Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Thomas, D. A., and Karen Proudford. "Theory for Practice: Making Sense of Race Relations in Organizations." In Addressing Cultural Issues in Organizations: Beyond the Corporate Context, edited by R. Carter. Sage Publications, 1999. View Details
  3. Mentoring and Diversity in Organizations: The Importance of Race and Gender in Work Relationships

    D. A. Thomas

    Keywords: Organizations; Employees; Diversity Characteristics; Race Characteristics; Gender Characteristics; Relationships;

    Citation:

    Thomas, D. A. "Mentoring and Diversity in Organizations: The Importance of Race and Gender in Work Relationships." In Diversity in the Workplace: Issues and Perspectives, edited by A. Daly. NASW Press, National Association of Social Workers, 1999. View Details
  4. Beyond the Simple Demography-Power Hypothesis: How Blacks in Power Influence Whites to Mentors Blacks

    D. A. Thomas

    Keywords: Training; Power and Influence; Race Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Thomas, D. A. "Beyond the Simple Demography-Power Hypothesis: How Blacks in Power Influence Whites to Mentors Blacks." In Mentoring Dilemmas: Developmental Relationships within Multicultural Organizations, edited by A. Murrell, F. Crosby, and R. Ely. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1999. View Details
  5. Mentoring and the Boundaryless Career: Lessons from the Minority Experience

    D. Thomas and M. C. Higgins

    Keywords: Personal Development and Career; Diversity Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Thomas, D., and M. C. Higgins. "Mentoring and the Boundaryless Career: Lessons from the Minority Experience." In Boundaryless Careers: A New Employment Principle for a New Organizational Era, edited by M. B. Arthur and D. M. Rousseau. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. View Details
  6. Promoting Career-Enhancing Relationships in Organization: The Role of the Human Resource Professional

    D. A. Thomas and Kathy E. Kram

    Keywords: Personal Development and Career; Employee Relationship Management;

    Citation:

    Thomas, D. A., and Kathy E. Kram. "Promoting Career-Enhancing Relationships in Organization: The Role of the Human Resource Professional." In Career Growth and Human Resource Strategies, edited by M. London and E. Mone. Quorum Books, 1988. View Details
  7. The Significance of Race and Ethnicity for Understanding Organizational Behavior

    D. A. Thomas and Clayton P. Alderfer

    Keywords: Organizations; Race Characteristics; Ethnicity Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Thomas, D. A., and Clayton P. Alderfer. "The Significance of Race and Ethnicity for Understanding Organizational Behavior." In Review of Industrial and Organizational Psychology. 3 vols. Edited by C. Cooper. John Wiley & Sons, 1988. View Details

Working Papers

  1. Reversing the Queue: Performance, Legitimacy, and Minority Hiring

    Andrew Hill and David A. Thomas

    Studies of minority hiring have found that poor-performing firms or firms in highly competitive contexts are more likely to hire minority candidates. However, most work has examined hiring for entry and mid-level positions, not senior management. Management positions differ in terms of the amount of uncertainty in identifying candidates qualified for the job, in the intensity of external evaluations of both managerial and firm performance, and in the level of accountability for that performance. Furthermore, the influence of senior minority managers on hiring practices may differ substantially, depending on where a manager sits in the firm's hierarchy. Examining hiring practices on coaching staffs of teams in America's National Football League from 1970 to 2007, we find that better-performing teams are less likely to hire minorities to fill lower-level and mid-level coaching positions (as predicted by prior literature on labor queues), but that such teams are more likely to hire minorities into leadership positions. We also find that minority head coaches hire more minorities for subordinate coaching jobs, but that the presence of a minority offensive or defensive coordinator (with a white head coach) is a significant, negative predictor of minority hiring in junior and mid-level positions.

    Keywords: Diversity Characteristics; Selection and Staffing; Leadership; Managerial Roles; Performance Effectiveness; Sports Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Hill, Andrew, and David A. Thomas. "Reversing the Queue: Performance, Legitimacy, and Minority Hiring." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 11-032, September 2010. View Details
  2. Defining the Attributes and Processes that Enhance the Effectiveness of Workforce Diversity Initiatives in Knowledge Intensive Firms

    Modupe Akinola and David A. Thomas

    Workforce diversity continues to be a key focus for organizations, driven by globalization of the U.S. economy and the desire for organizations to more accurately reflect the demographic diversity of the US population. Yet, most research on diversity in organizations has focused on the outcomes associated with workforce diversity and not on the processes that can enhance diversity in organizations. We address this limitation by developing a conceptual model and propositions that highlight the attributes of effective workforce diversity initiatives and the process through which workforce diversity initiatives become effective. We focus on knowledge intensive work and argue that in this context, the nature of the work is directly tied to societal stereotypes of underrepresented minorities, making knowledge intensive firms a rich environment to examine diversity initiatives and explore the dynamics that hinder retention and promotion for underrepresented minorities in these firms. We close by discussing directions for future research on workforce diversity initiatives.

    Keywords: Diversity Characteristics; Globalization; Employees; Retention; Knowledge Sharing; Research; United States;

    Citation:

    Akinola, Modupe, and David A. Thomas. "Defining the Attributes and Processes that Enhance the Effectiveness of Workforce Diversity Initiatives in Knowledge Intensive Firms." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 07-019, September 2006. (Revised August 2008.) View Details

Cases and Teaching Materials

  1. Renewing GE: The Africa Project (B)

    David A. Thomas and Stephanie J. Creary

    This case continues the story of the evolution of GE's business initiatives Africa. Between November 2010 and March 2011 several significant structural changes and leadership appointments were announced at GE, which reflected the company's commitment to global growth in all its regions outside the U.S., including its business in sub-Saharan Africa. In November 2010, John Rice, vice chairman of GE and president and CEO of GE Technology Infrastructure, was named vice chairman of GE and president and CEO of Global Growth and Operations (GGO). In this new role, Rice was based in Hong Kong and in charge of GE's growth in regions outside the U.S. In March 2011, Jay Ireland, a 31-year GE veteran and corporate officer, was appointed president and CEO for GE Africa, effective April 15, reporting to Rice. Additionally, three senior executives were appointed to Ireland's team: Lazarus Angbazo was promoted from president and CEO, sub-Saharan Africa, to president and CEO, GE West, East & Central Africa and Africa commercial leader; Thomas Konditi, a native of Kenya, rejoined GE as CFO for Global Growth and Operations, GE Africa; and Tamla Oates-Forney was promoted from human resources leader for sub-Saharan Africa, GE Energy, to senior human resources manager, GE Africa. While many were optimistic about GE's future in Africa, several issues still needed to be considered.

    Keywords: Africa;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A., and Stephanie J. Creary. "Renewing GE: The Africa Project (B)." Harvard Business School Supplement 412-028, July 2011. (Revised August 2011.) View Details
  2. Renewing GE: The Africa Project (A)

    David A. Thomas and Stephanie J. Creary

    This case profiles the evolution of General Electric's African American Form (AAF), an employee affinity group, and its efforts to increase the company's involvement in Africa. The AAF formed in 1991 to help advance GE's recruitment, retention and development of black employees. By 1995, members of the AAF started asking Jack Welch whether the company was planning to develop business in Africa. After Welch invited the group to conduct due diligence, it was concluded that the timing was not right for GE to make a significant investment in Africa. Yet, when Jeffrey Immelt began attending the AAF Symposia in 2001, the question about GE's involvement in Africa resurfaced. In 2004, Immelt pledged $20 million to fund, "The Africa Project" (later renamed, "Developing Health Globally")--a GE philanthropic effort sponsored by the GE Foundation and the AAF to improve healthcare outcomes in Africa.

    Keywords: Diversity Characteristics; Global Strategy; Multinational Firms and Management; Employees; Employee Relationship Management; Corporate Social Responsibility and Impact; Corporate Strategy; Expansion; Africa; United States;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A., and Stephanie J. Creary. "Renewing GE: The Africa Project (A)." Harvard Business School Case 411-093, April 2011. (Revised July 2011.) View Details
  3. Shifting the Diversity Climate: The Sodexo Solution

    David A. Thomas and Stephanie J. Creary

    This case profiles the evolution of Sodexo's diversity initiative. Diversity became a key priority for Sodexo, North America in 2001 after a class-action lawsuit was filed and certified in Washington, D.C. against Sodexo Marriot Services, Inc., the food services division that Sodexo had merged with in 1998. In 2002, Dr. Rohini Anand was hired by Michel Landel, CEO of Sodexo, North America. Soon thereafter, Anand was instated as chief diversity officer for Sodexo, North America. Anand and Landel worked with several executives to develop and implement systems that were conducive to a diversity strategy. The team started to build the human resource processes that would address many of the concerns in the lawsuit: training systems, selection systems, and a career posting center. By 2010, Sodexo, North America was continuing to gain traction on its diversity strategy, and a global diversity initiative for the group was underway. In addition, the company had developed diversity priorities focused on five different dimensions of difference from a global perspective: gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, disabilities, and age. However, more work still needed to be done to engage employees around the world in the company's diversity initiatives.

    Keywords: Diversity Characteristics; Business Strategy; Globalization; Management Teams; Gender Characteristics; Race Characteristics; Ethnicity Characteristics; Age Characteristics; Food and Beverage Industry; North America; Washington (state, US);

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A., and Stephanie J. Creary. "Shifting the Diversity Climate: The Sodexo Solution." Harvard Business School Case 412-020, July 2011. View Details
  4. Teach Plus: Mobilizing a New Generation of Teacher Leaders

    David A. Thomas and Stephanie J. Creary

    This case profiles the evolution of Teach Plus, a non-profit organization founded on the premise that in order for public schools to continuously improve urban student achievement, teaching must become a career that motivates and retains effective early career teachers. Teach Plus began as a pilot in fall 2007, launched by Celine Coggins, a former teacher and labor-management consultant, and incubated at the Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In August 2009, Teach Plus became an independent 501 c3 with Coggins as CEO and Monique Burns Thompson, a social entrepreneur and former school district administrator as president. Since its inception, Teach Plus had demonstrated that its approach was effective in helping teachers to understand and directly influence policy. Through the T + Network, Teach Plus found evidence that reform-minded teachers existed in large numbers throughout urban school districts and that many were willing to share their perspectives with policymakers. Through the development of a public school turnaround initiative in Boston, Teach Plus showed that teacher-driven policy initiatives filled an important gap in the education reform landscape. By mid-2011, Teach Plus had grown to a network of more than 3,500 reform-minded teachers in five cities. While Teach Plus had reached significant scale in its first 18 months of operations, it also faced a significant strategic challenge. Moving forward, would Teach Plus best address its agenda as a "voice/advocacy" organization or as a "teacher turnaround" organization?

    Keywords: Leadership; Decision Making; Strategy; Nonprofit Organizations; Social Entrepreneurship; Teaching; Cambridge; Boston;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A., and Stephanie J. Creary. "Teach Plus: Mobilizing a New Generation of Teacher Leaders." Harvard Business School Case 412-027, July 2011. View Details
  5. Keeping Google 'Googley'

    Boris Groysberg, David A. Thomas and Alison Berkley Wagonfeld

    This case, set in 2008, examines how Google has worked to avoid potential negative byproducts of rapid growth such as bureaucracy, slow decision-making, lack of visibility, and organizational inconsistency. When the case protagonist, Kim Scott, started with Google in 2004, she wondered if she would still be there in several years as she liked small, entrepreneurial companies. In 2008, she was pleased that Google still had the same entrepreneurial energy that it had when she joined. She and her colleagues reflect on how Google has been able to maintain its culture as the company keeps doubling in size.

    Keywords: Entrepreneurship; Growth and Development Strategy; Organizational Culture; Internet; Information Technology Industry;

    Citation:

    Groysberg, Boris, David A. Thomas, and Alison Berkley Wagonfeld. "Keeping Google 'Googley'." Harvard Business School Case 409-039, September 2008. (Revised July 2011.) View Details
  6. oDesk: Changing How the World Works

    Boris Groysberg, David A. Thomas and Jennifer M. Tydlaska

    It is 2010, and Gary Swart, CEO of oDesk, is contemplating the next steps for his organization. Founded in 2004 in California, oDesk operates an online marketplace which matches Employers with Contractors. oDesk provides fact-based information on Contractors, including experience, skills and certifications, to Employers who use this information as a basis for interviewing and hiring Contractors. oDesk's online marketplace also includes a payment platform and tools which allow Employers to audit and verify Contractors' work and time sheets. oDesk collects commissions, approximately 10% of gross services, on all work which goes through its platform. oDesk has enjoyed robust growth since its inception, and, to date, has focused on a very distinct market segment: small and medium sized employers, Contractors who provide computer programming services, and U.S. based employers hiring overseas Contractors. Swart believes that the time has come for oDesk to expand beyond this niche, but he is concerned about maintaining oDesk's strong reputation and market positioning and, as such, he wants to grow in a very focused manner. Should oDesk expand its customer focus to include large employers? Broaden the services its marketplace offers beyond computer programming? Or, widen its geographic reach? Each of these growth options offers opportunities and entails costs. Swart considers each of these in turn.

    Keywords: Recruitment; Leadership; Growth and Development Strategy; Market Platforms; Marketplace Matching; Corporate Strategy; Online Technology; Consulting Industry;

    Citation:

    Groysberg, Boris, David A. Thomas, and Jennifer M. Tydlaska. "oDesk: Changing How the World Works." Harvard Business School Case 411-078, February 2011. View Details
  7. Shar Matin (A)

    David A. Thomas and Elisa Farri

    The head of the subsidiary of a US company faced the decision to present an aggressive growth plan despite his CFO's lack of support.

    Keywords: Business Subsidiaries; Decision Choices and Conditions; Globalized Firms and Management; Leadership; Growth and Development Strategy; Management Teams; United States;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A., and Elisa Farri. "Shar Matin (A)." Harvard Business School Case 411-082, January 2011. View Details
  8. Breaking Through Action Plan

    David A. Thomas and Karen J. Watai

    The "Breaking Through Action Plan" is a developmental tool based on the book, Breaking Through: The Making of Minority Executives in Corporate America by David A. Thomas and John J. Gabarro. The Action Plan was originally designed as part of a facilitated session but can also be used in conjunction with the book. The Action Plan guides individuals through an examination of the critical areas of competence, credibility, confidence, and relationships. Completing this Action Plan will allow individuals to reflect on these critical areas and help them determine appropriate and impactful steps to help further their development.

    Keywords: Competency and Skills; Management Analysis, Tools, and Techniques; Personal Development and Career; Relationships; Power and Influence; Trust;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A., and Karen J. Watai. "Breaking Through Action Plan." Harvard Business School Exercise 409-059, November 2008. (Revised January 2011.) View Details
  9. Sonoco Products Company (TN) (A), (B), and (C), and Sonoco Products Company (A) (Abridged)

    Boris Groysberg, David A. Thomas and David Lane

    Keywords: Energy; Energy Industry;

    Citation:

    Groysberg, Boris, David A. Thomas, and David Lane. "Sonoco Products Company (TN) (A), (B), and (C), and Sonoco Products Company (A) (Abridged)." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 407-058, January 2007. (Revised June 2010.) View Details
  10. Sonoco Products Company (A): Building a World-Class HR Organization (Abridged)

    David A. Thomas and Boris Groysberg

    Describes the steps the vice-president of human resources takes in revamping an HR function that was noncooperative and, at times, competitive and introducing the company to the notion of HR as a strategic business partner. Explores changes made to the company's compensation, performance management, and succession planning processes.

    Keywords: Human Resources; Organizations; Restructuring; Partners and Partnerships; Management Succession; Strategic Planning; Performance;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A., and Boris Groysberg. "Sonoco Products Company (A): Building a World-Class HR Organization (Abridged)." Harvard Business School Case 410-082, March 2010. View Details
  11. Meeting the Diversity Challenge at PepsiCo: The Steve Reinemund Era

    David A. Thomas and Stephanie Creary

    This case profiles PepsiCo's diversity journey under the leadership of former chairman and CEO Steve Reinemund who instituted diversity as one of the company's strategic imperatives. It demonstrates the ways in which Reinemund partnered with his leadership team and employees throughout the organization to make diversity a key factor in PepsiCo's culture and performance. It also reveals how, regardless of the success, PepsiCo employees were openly speculating what it would mean for the diversity strategy that Reinemund would be turning the helm of PepsiCo over to Indra Nooyi, a 50-year old Indian-born woman, who would need to find her own voice and approach to leading the company and its diversity efforts.

    Keywords: Diversity Characteristics; Leadership; Growth and Development Strategy; Organizational Culture; Performance Effectiveness; Business and Stakeholder Relations; Food and Beverage Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A., and Stephanie Creary. "Meeting the Diversity Challenge at PepsiCo: The Steve Reinemund Era." Harvard Business School Case 410-024, August 2009. View Details
  12. The Rise of President Barack Hussein Obama

    David A. Thomas, Laura Morgan Roberts and Stephanie Creary

    This case profiles President Barack Hussein Obama's rise to the presidency as an "improbable candidate." The case illustrates the ways in which he overcame criticism from those who questioned his credibility and his values, and skepticism from those who were unsure whether America was ready to elect its first African American President. It also explores how President Obama was able to gain support from the American people despite lagging behind Senator Hillary Clinton, the presumed Democratic frontrunner, throughout much of the pre-primary period.

    Keywords: Ethnicity Characteristics; Race Characteristics; Political Elections; Leadership; Personal Development and Career; Creativity; Trust;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A., Laura Morgan Roberts, and Stephanie Creary. "The Rise of President Barack Hussein Obama." Harvard Business School Case 409-115, June 2009. View Details
  13. The Rise of President Barack Hussein Obama (TN)

    David A. Thomas, Laura Morgan Roberts and Stephanie Creary

    Teaching Note for [409115].

    Keywords: Value; Political Elections; Personal Development and Career; Power and Influence; United States;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A., Laura Morgan Roberts, and Stephanie Creary. "The Rise of President Barack Hussein Obama (TN)." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 409-134, June 2009. View Details
  14. Mapping Your Network

    David A. Thomas

    This exercise is designed to help students and professionals map their professional networks and identify areas of strength and weakness in their networks. "Network" refers to the set of relationships that is critical to someone's ability to learn new skills and competencies, get things done, advance in his or her career, and develop personally and professionally. The exercise takes 15 to 20 minutes to complete.

    Keywords: Competency and Skills; Strength and Weakness; Personal Development and Career; Groups and Teams; Social and Collaborative Networks;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A. "Mapping Your Network." Harvard Business School Exercise 409-129, May 2009. View Details
  15. Creating The Partnership Solutions Group at Lehman Brothers

    David A. Thomas and Stephanie Creary

    Explores how two senior Wall St. executives created a successful commercial opportunity for Lehman Brothers that focused on building relationships with minority- and women-owned financial services firms. Illustrates how Patricia Miller Zollar and Nadja Fidelia aligned the Partnership Solutions Groups' activities with Lehman Brothers' "one-firm" strategy in ways that created economic value for the firm. Delves into the challenges of developing this business in an industry that tends to view "diversity" initiatives as activities that seek only to benefit society and not as opportunities to create economic gain.

    Keywords: Diversity Characteristics; Gender Characteristics; Partners and Partnerships; Power and Influence; Value Creation; Financial Services Industry;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A., and Stephanie Creary. "Creating The Partnership Solutions Group at Lehman Brothers." Harvard Business School Case 409-042, January 2009. View Details
  16. Adobe Systems: Working Towards a "Suite" Release (A)

    David A. Thomas and Lauren Barley

    The case examines the tools a manager can use to keep her project on track and manage conflict and tension as Adobe prepares to launch Creative Suite 3, the biggest software release in the company's 25-year history. The protagonist, Yvonne Murray, is a group program manager at Adobe and responsible for coordinating the integration of her business unit's product—Device Central—in Creative Suite 3. Murray is copied on an email that warns the Device Central product team that Device Central may be pulled from the Creative Suite 3 marketing materials and from the launch entirely because it was in danger of missing a deadline. Murray wonders if and how to respond to the email that was addressed to her Device Central colleague, group product manager Carol Linburn.

    Keywords: Management Analysis, Tools, and Techniques; Product Launch; Projects; Groups and Teams; Conflict Management; Power and Influence;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A., and Lauren Barley. Adobe Systems: Working Towards a "Suite" Release (A). Harvard Business School Case 409-014, September 2008. View Details
  17. Adobe Systems: Working Towards a "Suite" Release (B)

    David A. Thomas and Lauren Barley

    The case examines the tools a manager can use to keep her project on track and manage conflict and tension as Adobe prepares to launch Creative Suite 3, the biggest software release in the company's 25-year history. The protagonist, Yvonne Murray, is a group program manager at Adobe and responsible for coordinating the integration of her business unit's product—Device Central—in Creative Suite 3. Murray is copied on an email that warns the Device Central product team that Device Central may be pulled from the Creative Suite 3 marketing materials and from the launch entirely because it was in danger of missing a deadline. Murray wonders if and how to respond to the email that was addressed to her Device Central colleague, group product manager Carol Linburn.

    Keywords: Change; Interpersonal Communication; Crisis Management; Product Launch; Projects; Conflict of Interests; Integration; Software;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A., and Lauren Barley. Adobe Systems: Working Towards a "Suite" Release (B). Harvard Business School Supplement 409-015, September 2008. View Details
  18. Stanley O'Neal at Merrill Lynch (A)

    David A. Thomas and Ayesha Kanji

    In the late 1970s, Stanley O'Neal joined Merrill Lynch as an investment banker. Profiles O'Neal's ascent at Merrill to CEO. O'Neal put Merrill through a comprehensive restructuring program, cutting costs and significantly reducing the work force. As CEO, O'Neal faces the challenge of changing the company's signature "Mother Merrill" culture into a performance-driven and meritocratic one, while facing resistance and criticism from inside Merrill and Wall Street. Provides data on Merrill's financial performance and investment banking ratings. Teaching Purpose: To demonstrate leadership at the executive level, highlighting the career development of a person of color. Also, to focus on changing corporate culture and CEO succession.

    Keywords: Restructuring; Race Characteristics; Cost Management; Investment Banking; Job Cuts and Outsourcing; Leadership; Management Succession; Performance Effectiveness; Personal Development and Career;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A., and Ayesha Kanji. "Stanley O'Neal at Merrill Lynch (A)." Harvard Business School Case 405-029, August 2004. (Revised September 2005.) View Details
  19. Sonoco Products Company (A): Building a World-Class HR Organization

    David A. Thomas, Boris Groysberg and Cate Reavis

    Describes the steps the vice-president of human resources takes in revamping an HR function that was noncooperative and, at times, competitive and introducing the company to the notion of HR as a strategic business partner. Explores changes made to the company's compensation, performance management, and succession planning processes. Teaching Purpose: To allow students to think strategically about reorganizing the human resources department to support business strategy and serve as a business partner.

    Keywords: Human Resources; Compensation and Benefits; Management Succession; Measurement and Metrics; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Performance; Partners and Partnerships; Business Strategy;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A., Boris Groysberg, and Cate Reavis. "Sonoco Products Company (A): Building a World-Class HR Organization." Harvard Business School Case 405-009, October 2004. (Revised September 2005.) View Details
  20. Sonoco Products Company (B): The Hybrid Model

    David A. Thomas, Boris Groysberg and Cate Reavis

    Supplements the (A) case.

    Keywords: Business Model; Non-Renewable Energy; Energy Industry;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A., Boris Groysberg, and Cate Reavis. "Sonoco Products Company (B): The Hybrid Model." Harvard Business School Supplement 405-010, October 2004. (Revised September 2005.) View Details
  21. Elizabeth Fisher (A)

    David A. Thomas

    Elizabeth Fisher is a graduating MBA who must reconcile her job search with Paul, her fiance's, job constraints. The case gives vivid detail of Elizabeth and Paul's process. At one point, the two must decide whether to have a commuter marriage or have Paul give up his job to relocate with Elizabeth.

    Keywords: Decision Making; Job Search; Personal Development and Career; Relationships;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A. "Elizabeth Fisher (A)." Harvard Business School Case 494-002, November 1993. (Revised December 2004.) View Details
  22. IBM's Diversity Strategy: Bridging the Workplace and the Marketplace

    David A. Thomas and Ayesha Kanji

    Explores how IBM incorporated diversity into its business strategy, making the case that workforce diversity is critical to marketing its products and services to its customers. In the early 1990s, Ted Childs, vice-president of Workforce Diversity, proposed to CEO Lou Gerstner the creation of eight diversity task forces. Delves into the organizational and cultural impediments to starting a diversity task force initiative and how IBM overcame these obstacles to implement an effective diversity strategy. After the task forces were established, they underwent tremendous growth and became global in scope. Childs also faces the challenge of taking a U.S.-based diversity strategy and applying it to IBM's global organization. Teaching Purpose: To demonstrate how a company can implement an effective diversity strategy and integrate it into its overall business strategy.

    Keywords: Information Technology; Diversification; Business Strategy; Integration; Global Strategy; Organizations; Markets; Information Technology Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A., and Ayesha Kanji. "IBM's Diversity Strategy: Bridging the Workplace and the Marketplace." Harvard Business School Case 405-044, November 2004. View Details
  23. Gary Rodkin at Pepsi-Cola North America (B)

    David A. Thomas, Gina Carioggia and Ayesha Kanji

    After assuming the position of CEO of Pepsi-Cola North America (PCNA), Gary Rodkin faces organizational problems within PCNA and external friction between PCNA and its largest bottler, the Pepsi Bottling Group. In addition to the challenge of organizational alignment, this case also provides an opportunity to examine effective leadership, reorganization, and brand management in the context of the beverage industry.

    Keywords: Restructuring; Leadership; Brands and Branding; Problems and Challenges; Situation or Environment; Conflict Management; Alignment; Food and Beverage Industry; North America;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A., Gina Carioggia, and Ayesha Kanji. "Gary Rodkin at Pepsi-Cola North America (B)." Harvard Business School Case 403-108, November 2002. (Revised January 2004.) View Details
  24. Gary Rodkin At Pepsi-Cola North America (B) (Abridged)

    David A. Thomas, Gina Carioggia and Ayesha Kanji

    After assuming the position of CEO of Pepsi-Cola North America (PCNA), Gary Rodkin faces organizational problems within PCNA and external friction between PCNA and its largest bottler, the Pepsi Bottling Group. In addition to the challenge of organizational alignment, this case also provides an opportunity to examine effective leadership, reorganization, and brand management in the context of the beverage industry.

    Keywords: Restructuring; Leadership; Brands and Branding; Problems and Challenges; Situation or Environment; Conflict Management; Alignment; Food and Beverage Industry; North America;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A., Gina Carioggia, and Ayesha Kanji. "Gary Rodkin At Pepsi-Cola North America (B) (Abridged)." Harvard Business School Case 403-109, November 2002. (Revised January 2004.) View Details
  25. Gary Rodkin at Pepsi-Cola North America (A)

    David A. Thomas, Gina Carioggia and Ayesha Kanji

    After assuming the position of CEO of Pepsi-Cola North America (PCNA), Gary Rodkin faces organizational problems within PCNA and external friction between PCNA and its largest bottler, the Pepsi Bottling Group. In addition to the challenge of organizational alignment, this case also provides an opportunity to examine effective leadership, reorganization, and brand management in the context of the beverage industry.

    Keywords: Restructuring; Leadership; Brands and Branding; Problems and Challenges; Situation or Environment; Conflict Management; Alignment; Food and Beverage Industry; North America;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A., Gina Carioggia, and Ayesha Kanji. "Gary Rodkin at Pepsi-Cola North America (A)." Harvard Business School Case 403-080, October 2002. (Revised July 2003.) View Details
  26. Star Distributors, Inc. (A)

    David A. Thomas

    Depicts the conflict and organizational problems that emerged in a franchise operation owned by Paul Logan, an African American, and John Heyman, a white American. Provides the opportunity to examine the ways in which race influences managerial behavior and organizational dynamics. Also raises issues of organizational performance, headquarters-franchise relations and conflict resolution.

    Keywords: Conflict Management; Performance Effectiveness; Franchise Ownership; Race Characteristics; Management Style; Conflict and Resolution; Business and Stakeholder Relations;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A. "Star Distributors, Inc. (A)." Harvard Business School Case 493-015, August 1992. (Revised September 2002.) View Details
  27. Career Choice-Making Case Assignment, The

    Monica C. Higgins, David A. Thomas and Shoshana Zuboff

    Sets the stage for self-assessment as an integral component in the process of career development.

    Keywords: Decision Choices and Conditions; Management Practices and Processes; Personal Development and Career;

    Citation:

    Higgins, Monica C., David A. Thomas, and Shoshana Zuboff. "Career Choice-Making Case Assignment, The." Harvard Business School Exercise 403-054, August 2002. View Details
  28. Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago's Mentoring Program, The (A)

    David A. Thomas and Gina Carioggia

    Describes steps taken to implement and manage a successful employee mentoring program at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. A cultural change at the bank provided the context out of which the program grew. The case describes the development of the program, highlighting design principles key to the program's success and its implementation and initial results after nine months. Program manager Amy Rubinstein and executive sponsor Jack Wixted considered how to expand the successful program to include more employees while maintaining the key aspects that contributed to the program's success.

    Keywords: Design; Training; Human Resources; Employee Relationship Management; Public Ownership; Planning;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A., and Gina Carioggia. "Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago's Mentoring Program, The (A)." Harvard Business School Case 403-019, July 2002. View Details
  29. Rob Waldron at SCORE! Educational Centers (Abridged)

    David A. Thomas and Stephanie L. Woerner

    Describes Rob Waldron's actions upon assuming leadership of SCORE! Educational Centers, an after-school tutoring enterprise. Examines the issue of acquiring and growing a small, privately-owned company into a professional organization, especially regarding corporate culture. Describes the measures Waldron takes to build a culture and how he maintains the culture after the acquisition. Focuses on Waldron's actions in dealing with a growing employee morale problem. Concludes with Waldron deciding whether or not to alter the company's recruiting strategy. Includes SCORE! background material. A rewritten version of an earlier case.

    Keywords: Acquisition; Business Growth and Maturation; Decision Making; Education; Human Resources; Recruitment; Leadership; Organizational Culture; Private Ownership; Education Industry;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A., and Stephanie L. Woerner. "Rob Waldron at SCORE! Educational Centers (Abridged)." Harvard Business School Case 401-018, October 2000. (Revised January 2002.) View Details
  30. Yvette Hyater-Adams and Terry Larsen at CoreStates Financial Corp.

    David A. Thomas, Nancie Zane PHD and Emily Heaphy

    Yvette Hyater-Adams, senior VP of CoreStates Bank, and CEO Terry Larsen reflect on their five-year mentor-protege relationship. They describe how building a relationship across both race and gender was challenging and ultimately highly rewarding. Their relationship develops in the context of a major culture change that Hyater-Adams and Larsen were leading the organization through. This case discusses the impact their relationship had on the organization and the change process.

    Keywords: Race Characteristics; Gender Characteristics; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Change Management; Management Teams; Relationships; Banking Industry;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A., Nancie Zane PHD, and Emily Heaphy. "Yvette Hyater-Adams and Terry Larsen at CoreStates Financial Corp." Harvard Business School Case 401-023, March 2001. View Details
  31. Millennium Media, Inc. and John Voorenberg

    David A. Thomas

    Millenium Media's CEO reviews the company diversity report and considers the challenges of maintaining a diverse workforce in light of the news that three individuals, two of whom are people of color, are leaving for opportunities with a competitor.

    Keywords: Diversity Characteristics; Employee Relationship Management; Resignation and Termination; Retention; Leadership Style; Problems and Challenges; Competition;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A. "Millennium Media, Inc. and John Voorenberg." Harvard Business School Case 400-032, August 1999. (Revised October 2000.) View Details
  32. Leaving

    David A. Thomas

    A company supervisor listens to an employee, an African American woman, announce she is leaving the company and tries to understand the situation.

    Keywords: Resignation and Termination; Retention; Race Characteristics; Behavior; Diversity Characteristics; Interpersonal Communication; Labor and Management Relations;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A. "Leaving." Harvard Business School Case 400-033, August 1999. View Details
  33. Self-Assessment and Career Development, Instructor's Course Overview (TN)

    David A. Thomas and Emily Heaphy

    An overview for the Self-Assessment and Career Development course.

    Keywords: Personal Development and Career;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A., and Emily Heaphy. "Self-Assessment and Career Development, Instructor's Course Overview (TN)." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 498-072, April 1998. (Revised June 1998.) View Details
  34. International Use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

    David A. Thomas and Emily Heaphy

    Intended to be used as a supplement to the Introduction to Type and provides an overview of the international uses of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

    Keywords: Personal Development and Career;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A., and Emily Heaphy. "International Use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator." Harvard Business School Background Note 498-038, October 1997. (Revised May 1998.) View Details
  35. Development Relationships TN

    David A. Thomas and Emily Heaphy

    The final class of the Career Development module of the Self-Assessment and Career Development course (SACD) uses the topic of mentoring and developmental relationships to encourage students to think beyond the point of finding and accepting a suitable job offer. The Karen Harper case is used to frame the discussion. The case introduces Karen when she is facing a crucial career decision that has the potential to damage her relationship with her sole mentor. The central question is, can the current developmental relationship be transformed to meet the protege's needs? After a discussion of the case, the instructor provides a brief lecture of the research on this area, including the types and functions of developmental relationships, the effects of demographic diversity on them, and strategies for initiating and forming developmental relationships.

    Keywords: Decisions; Curriculum and Courses; Job Offer; Personal Development and Career; Relationships; Strategy;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A., and Emily Heaphy. "Development Relationships TN." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 498-071, May 1998. View Details
  36. Personality Types: The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (TN)

    David A. Thomas and Emily Heaphy

    Describes a class design for teaching students about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The Ideal Organization exercise is the centerpiece of the class. It demonstrates that people with different cognitive types have distinct preferences for the type of environment in which they work. Students become aware that there are diverse ways of perceiving and analyzing organizations and identify their own ideal organization. Also includes a method of integrating the MBTI with another self-assessment instrument and a description of the international use of the MBTI note.

    Keywords: Job Search; Working Conditions; Personal Development and Career; Situation or Environment; Perception; Integration;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A., and Emily Heaphy. "Personality Types: The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (TN)." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 498-069, March 1998. View Details
  37. The Job Search Workshop TN

    David A. Thomas and Emily Heaphy

    An effective catalyst for the job search, this note is an opportunity for students to focus on the "next steps" of their job search. Students are introduced to a model of career decision-making, which frames their discussion and sophisticates their understanding of the job search process. They then work in small groups to discuss the issues and dilemmas they each are deliberating. The small group work calls attention to the significant value that peers add to the career development and job search process.

    Keywords: Decision Making; Job Search; Personal Development and Career;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A., and Emily Heaphy. "The Job Search Workshop TN." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 498-070, March 1998. View Details
  38. Star Distributors, Inc. (B)

    David A. Thomas

    Presents the dilemma of Don Waters, vice president of Franchise Operations at Belmont Beverages. Waters must must decide what to do about the conflict between two partners in one of Belmont's franchises.

    Keywords: Management Teams; Conflict Management; Franchise Ownership; Partners and Partnerships; Distribution Industry; Food and Beverage Industry;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A. "Star Distributors, Inc. (B)." Harvard Business School Supplement 493-016, August 1992. (Revised February 1998.) View Details
  39. Craig Parks (A)

    David A. Thomas and Lisa J. Chadderdon

    Craig Parks is a 1992 HBS graduate who, without much deliberation, returns to work for his former employer, Taylor Burton on Wall Street. The choice proves to be a poor fit for Craig. The case documents his decision-making process, personal history, and the dilemma he confronts once he realizes returning to Taylor Burton was the wrong decision.

    Keywords: Personal Development and Career; Decision Choices and Conditions; Problems and Challenges;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A., and Lisa J. Chadderdon. "Craig Parks (A)." Harvard Business School Case 497-013, July 1996. View Details
  40. Bob Fifer

    David A. Thomas and Doug Cohen

    Explores the life and concerns of Bob Fifer, HBS class of 1979 and CEO of Kaiser Associates. Explores the many influences on Bob's development and his subsequent career choices. It is written as a biography with extensive quotes from interviews with Bob. He describes the role of his upbringing and Jewish ethnicity in the formation of his early self-concept. Highlights the career-related choices he makes, including college at Harvard, attending business school, and entering consulting. After years of success and driven workaholic behavior, Bob experiences disillusionment and personal tragedy.

    Keywords: Personal Development and Career; Entrepreneurship; Identity; Leadership Style; Ethnicity Characteristics; Management Teams;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A., and Doug Cohen. "Bob Fifer." Harvard Business School Case 495-013, September 1994. View Details
  41. Sumiko Ito

    David A. Thomas

    Describes the life and career of the first Japanese female investment banker at Nomura Securities, Sumiko Ito, who later became a partner at Alex Brown, a U.S. investment bank. Organized around the major life events and career transitions Ms. Ito experienced. Set in three distinct cultural milieus: Japan, England, and the United States. Eventually, Ms. Ito resigns from Alex Brown and starts her own investment company.

    Keywords: Investment Banking; Personal Development and Career; Gender Characteristics; Diversity Characteristics; Cross-Cultural and Cross-Border Issues; Banking Industry; Financial Services Industry; Japan; England; United States;

    Citation:

    Thomas, David A. "Sumiko Ito." Harvard Business School Case 493-011, April 1993. View Details

Presentations

  1. Firm Performance, Top Management and Minority Hiring: African‐American Coaches in the NFL, 1970‐2007

    Andrew Hill and David Thomas

    Studies of minority hiring have found that low-status firms are more likely to hire minority candidates. However, most work has examined hiring for entry and mid-level positions, not senior management, which differs in the level of 1) uncertainty regarding the optimal qualifications; 2) external evaluation; 3) accountability for overall performance. Given these differences, we hypothesize that legitimacy and risk concerns moderate the relationship between firm status and minority hiring. Using data from the NFL (1970-2007), we find that good teams more often hire minority head coaches, and bad teams more often hire minority assistant coaches.

    Keywords: Performance Evaluation; Management Teams; Recruitment; Relationships; Risk and Uncertainty; Ethnicity Characteristics; Sports Industry; Africa; United States;

    Citation:

    Hill, Andrew, and David Thomas. "Firm Performance, Top Management and Minority Hiring: African‐American Coaches in the NFL, 1970‐2007." Paper presented at the Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Montreal, QC, August 01, 2010. View Details
      1. Won with Robin J. Ely the 2007 Administrative Science Quarterly Award for Scholarly Contribution for their paper, "Cultural Diversity at Work: The Effects of Diversity Perspectives on Work Group Processes and Outcomes" (Administrative Science Quarterly, June 2001). The award was established in 1995 to recognize authors of papers published in ASQ that have made exceptional contributions to the field of organization studies and is given annually for the most significant paper published in ASQ five years earlier.