William J. Abernathy Professor of Business Administration
Tom Nicholas is William J. Abernathy Professor of Business Administration in the Entrepreneurial Management Group of Harvard Business School. He holds a doctorate in Economic History from Oxford University. Prior to joining HBS, he taught Technology Strategy at MIT's Sloan School of Management and technology and finance courses at the London School of Economics. At HBS he has taught the first year course, The Entrepreneurial Manager, and teaches in Executive Education programs on entrepreneurship and intellectual property as well as two second year elective courses: The Coming of Managerial Capitalism, which examines entrepreneurship, innovation and business development in the United States over the past 240 years; and Venture Capital in Historical Perspective, which focuses on the changing organizational structure of the venture capital industry and its impact on entrepreneurship and innovation over time. He has received the Faculty Teaching Award in both the Required Curriculum and the Elective Curriculum and the Charles M. Williams Award for teaching excellence.
His current research focuses on linking historical US patent records to Federal Censuses to examine the life cycle of inventors and their contribution to US economic growth over the long run. He is also completing a book manuscript (with Felda Hardymon) on the histroy of the venture capital industry. His research has also covered the historical foundations of entrepreneurship and wealth accumulation in Europe, the organizational structure and incentives for innovation in America, Britain and Japan. His work shows how the foundations of new technology formation across countries can only be understood by examining the coexistence of large corporations, formal R&D establishments and independent inventors operating outside the boundaries of firms. It also highlights that alternative mechanisms to patents—specifically prizes—can exert a powerful influence on the rate and direction of technological change. He has also examined the links between finance and innovation during the Great Depression and constructed historical real estate price indices for Manhattan from the 1890s through to the 1930s in order to understand the relationship between real estate and stock market cycles.