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.

DENIAL reviews

"A wake-up call to be sure that we don’t allow ourselves to confuse our maps with the actual territory."

strategy+business "2010 Best Business Books," Winter 2010

"The history of industry is rich with [instances of denial], a number of which Tedlow examines with thorough understanding of both business and psychology."

Publishers Weekly -- starred review, April 19, 2010

"[A] smart new book....a lively history of corporate blind spots and blunders."

Andrea Sachs, Time Magazine "Business Books," March 8, 2010

"Insightful analysis....highly readable, often invigorating."

Hardy Green, Books@DailyFinance, "Facing Up to the Awful Truth," March 27, 2010

"Every single page is a pleasure....Each chapter reads like a great short story....A great read!", "Business Books Worth Reading," March 2, 2010

"An excellent summary and set of examples of a major business problem."

Loyd E. Eskildson, "5 Star Review: Tedlow's Denial," Basil & Spice, April 14, 2010

“Extraordinarily informative, as well as eloquent.”

Bob Morris, First Friday Book Synopsis, March 4, 2010

"A lively account of the stumbling, fumbling, and occasionally inspired action that has characterized some of America’s most famous companies over the past hundred years."

Roberta Rood, Books to the Ceiling, March 15, 2010

Advance Praise for DENIAL:

"This lucid and scary history of our proclivity to deny uncomfortable truth is Richard Tedlow at his analytical best. But plan ahead before you pick it up. It is very hard to put down."

-CLAYTON M. CHRISTENSEN, Author of The Innovator's Dilemma

 "Richard Tedlow blends historical rigor with practical insights useful to today's leaders-a rare and wonderful combination. His huge lesson-that the seeds of tragic demise are almost always visible, if only leaders would face them square-on-should terrify any successful person."

-JIM COLLINS, author Good to Great and How the Mighty Fall

 "In this absorbing study, Tedlow makes the case that the willingness to face harsh facts is what distinguishes great leaders from merely adequate ones. A must-read."


 "Tedlow's book is a fascinating look at the phenomenon of denial. It's a great explanation of why smart leaders act dumb, and what you can do about it."

-SCOTT ADAMS, creator of Dilbert

 "Tedlow's book forces the business executive to ask: ‘Is this about me?' If the answer is yes, you've got a problem. The stories presented here can help you work your way out of it."

-SUZY WELCH, author of 10-10-10