Richard S. Tedlow

MBA Class of 1949 Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus

Richard S. Tedlow is the Class of 1949 Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, where he is a specialist in the history of business.

Professor Tedlow received his B.A. from Yale in 1969 and his M.A. and Ph.D. in history from Columbia in 1971 and 1976 respectively. He came to the Harvard Business School on a fellowship in 1978 and joined the faculty in 1979. From 1979 through 1982, he taught First Year Marketing. His involvement in marketing has continued, and he has been a member of the faculty of the "Strategic Retail Management Seminar," the "Top Management Seminar for Retailers and Suppliers," "Managing Brand Meaning," and the "Strategic Marketing Management" executive education programs. From 1978 to the present, he has been involved in the School's Business History program. In 1992 and 1993, he taught a course entitled "Business, Government, and the International Economy." He has also taught in numerous executive programs at the Harvard Business School as well as at corporations, including programs in marketing strategy and general management. His book -- Giants of Enterprise: Seven Business Innovators and the Empires They Built (HarperBusiness, 2001) -- was selected by Business Week as one of the top ten business books of 2001.

Prof. Tedlow’s book, Andy Grove: The Life and Times of an American, was published by Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Group USA, in November 2006. It was selected by Business Week as one of the top ten business books of 2006.

Prof. Tedlow's most recent book, Denial: Why Business Leaders Fail to Look Facts in the Face, was published by Portfolio in March, 2010. It was selected by strategy+business as one of the best business books of 2010.

  1. Denial: Why Business Leaders Fail to Look Facts in the Face--And What to Do About It (March 2010)

    Denial -- the unconscious belief that a certain fact is too terrible to face and therefore cannot be true -- has torpedoed many good businesses and more than a few great ones. It turns challenges into crises, and dilemmas into catastrophes. It is one of the greatest obstacles business leaders face.

    In Denial, Richard S. Tedlow tackles two essential questions: Why have so many sane, smart leaders refused to accept and act on the facts that threatened their companies and careers? And how have some executives found the courage to resist denial when facing new trends, changing markets, and tough new competitors?

    To answer these questions, Tedlow takes an in-depth look at examples of people and organizations that were crippled by denial, including Ford, Coke, and Sears. He also shows how companies like DuPont, Intel, and Johnson & Johnson were able to acknowledge harsh realities about their products, markets, and organizations, and use that information not only to avoid catastrophe, but to achieve greatness.

    Finally, Tedlow identifies common signs of denial to look for in your own company such as using jargon to mask trouble, or focusing on a glitzy new headquarters rather than the competition. Denial will always be with us, but some people are particularly skillful at battling it. This book can help you to become one of them.

    Order DENIAL at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Borders.