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COLLECTION Identifier: Arch GA 13.4

C. Roland Christensen papers


Research, teaching materials, writings, speeches, administrative records,audio recordings and other papers of Harvard Business School professor C. RolandChristensen.


  • 1931-1998

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials stored offsite; access requires advance notice. HBS Archives collections require a secondary registration form, please contact for more information.

Restricted material has been identified and separated. Note that box and folder listsof restricted material have been redacted.

Digital use copies in this collection can be accessed only onsite in the de GaspéBeaubien Reading Room. To request access please contact prior to visiting the library.


33.8 linear feet (81 boxes)
11 Megabytes (content from 55 disks)
The collection consists of annotated cases, teaching notes and other coursematerials, case development files, correspondence, speeches, administrative records,audio recordings, writings and drafts of publications related to teaching. Theannotated cases and supporting course materials such as course outlines, readinglists, memoranda, seating charts, rosters and transcripts of presentations,illustrate Christensen's approach to teaching as well as his questioning, discussionand course management techniques. Specific HBS courses represented are Field Studies(1964-1984), Administrative Policy (1947-1953) and Business Policy (1951-1979).Christensen's case development activities are illustrated through the Nike, Inc.Case Development Files, which include handwritten notes and questions as well as atranscript of an interview with Nike co-founder Philip Knight. The records relatingto the Colloquium on Teaching by the Case Method held in 1984 provide a number ofperspectives expressed by various speakers concerning the case method and itseffectiveness.

Materials relating to Christensen's efforts to improve the teaching skills ofuniversity professors by Developing Discussion Leadership Skills and Teaching By theCase Method courses include annotated cases developed by Christensen, Dr. Abby J.Hansen and others specifically for these courses. Other teaching and seminarplanning materials include topical notes, discussion questions, correspondence,teaching plans, memoranda, agendas, schedules, programs and catalogs of seminarparticipants. Also included are topical notes, personal reflections, periodicalclippings, cartoons and quotations assembled by Christensen that provide insightinto his personal teaching philosophy. Other records include materials related toChristensen's books Teaching and the Case Methodand Education for Judgment: The Artistry of DiscussionLeadership, publications not authored by Christensen and othermaterials. Also included are digital drafts of Teachingand the Case Method and other draft material on teaching and classdiscussion used in Christensen's books and seminars.

Research materials include a group of articles maintained by Christensen as "ArticleFiles." Speeches made by Christensen between 1963 and 1996 elucidate Christensen'sthoughts on the nature of teaching and on various methods of instruction.

Christensen's administrative activities are represented by correspondence,handwritten notes, memos, guidelines, course outlines, reports, exams, courseevaluations and other materials related to Administrative Policy and Business Policycourses. Christensen's MBA Review Committee records (a committee assembled with thepurpose of creating a strategic plan for the MBA program at HBS), include memos,reports, notes and related documents from 1959-1961.

Audiovisual records include an audio recording and transcription of a 1997 interviewbetween Christensen and Albert Bartovics and Carole Foster about the development ofBusiness Policy cases and their use in HBS courses. Also included are audiorecordings of Christensen speaking at the Cotting Library in 1982, a 1988 interviewwith Bob Eccles, and a video recording entitled CaseVideo to Accompany Business Policy Text and Cases, which contains videosegments of a number of instructors, including Christensen, to accompany Business Policy: Text and Cases, 7th Ed, a book thatChristensen co-authored.

Biographical Note:

Carl Roland Christensen was born in Tyler, Minnesota, in 1919, the son of teachers.He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Iowa in 1941 and aMaster of Business Administration and Doctor of Commercial Science degree fromHarvard Business School in 1943 and 1953, respectively. During and immediatelyfollowing World War II he served as a Captain in the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps,1943-1946.

Christensen became a Research Assistant in Business Administration at HarvardBusiness School in 1946 and an Instructor in Business Administration in 1947. He waspromoted to Assistant Professor (1948) and Associate Professor (1954), becoming afull Professor of Business Administration in 1958, and the George F. Baker, Jr.Professor of Business Administration in 1963. Appointed as the Robert WalmseyUniversity Professor by Harvard president Derek Bok in 1984, Christensen was thefirst Harvard Business School faculty member to become a University Professor. Infact, Christensen played a major role in the development of the Derek Bok Center,established in 1975 to heighten the quality of undergraduate instruction at Harvard.Within the Harvard community, Christensen taught at the Harvard Law School, theHarvard Medical School, the Graduate School of Education and the School of PublicHealth. His teaching activities outside of the Harvard community included teachingat IMEDE, an international school of management in Laussane, Switzerland, theStanford Graduate School of Business, and the Sloan School of Management at theMassachusetts Institute of Technology.

Business Policy, case method instruction and developing discussion leadership skillswere Christensen's major areas of teaching, study and research throughout hiscareer. In addition, as the director of many businesses, Christensen observedvarious problems associated with the decision-making process and the effectivefunctioning of boards of directors. His research interests included investigationsinto ways of improving the operation of such boards.

Christensen is widely recognized as one of the leading experts on the art of teachingby discussion and on the effective use of the case method and field studies ineducation. His teaching methods were designed to promote the active involvement ofstudents, encouraging them to express, share, and compare ideas by using classroomtechniques that are sensitive to the needs of individual students withoutsurrendering control of the instructional process. The case method at HBS confrontsstudents with problems encountered by managers and uses the problems as a basis forexploring theoretical concepts as well as practical issues. At the request of DerekBok in the mid 1970s, Christensen built on these concepts and developed twoinfluential seminars designed to improve the quality of teaching: DevelopingDiscussion Leadership Skills and Teaching By the Case Method. For over twenty years,Christensen organized and co-taught classes for university faculty members, bothwithin and beyond the Harvard community, enabling them to hone their skills atleading discussions and molding their abilities to question, listen, and respond. Infact, although formally retired in 1990, Christensen was actively engaged inteaching seminars on discussion and case method teaching until shortly before hisdeath.

Christensen passed away on August 28, 1999 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Series Outline

The collection is arranged in the following series:
  1. Series I. Correspondence, 1959-1980
  2. Series II. HBS Teaching Records, 1931-1998
  3. ___Subseries A.Annotated Cases, circa 1948-1990
  4. ___Subseries B. BusinessPolicy Teaching Files, 1948-1990
  5. ___Subseries C. CaseDevelopment Files, Nike, Inc., 1983-1984
  6. ___Subseries D.Colloquium on Teaching by the Case Method,1984-1988
  7. ___Subseries E. Field Studies,1964-1984
  8. ___Subseries F. Teaching Materials and CourseDevelopment, 1947-1996
  9. ___Subseries G. Teaching AboutTeaching, 1931-1998
  10. ______i. Annotated Cases Used for TeachingAbout Teaching, circa 1940-1998
  11. ______ii. Reflections,1975-1997
  12. ______iii. Seminar Teaching Materials, circa1950s-1997
  13. ______iv. General,1931-1998
  14. Series III. Research, Writings and Speeches,1946-1996
  15. ___Subseries A. Writings and Speeches,1960-1996
  16. ___Subseries B. Article Files,1946-1974
  17. Series IV. HBS Administrative Files, 1946-1970
  18. ___Subseries A.Administrative and Academic Planning Files,1946-1970
  19. ___Subseries B. MBA Review Committee Files,1959-1961
  20. Series V. Audiovisual Records, 1982-1997

Physical Location



Gift of C. Roland Christensen, 1985, 1990, 1997, 1998, 2007.

Related Collections:

Christensen’s HBS doctoral dissertation, “Management Succession in Small and GrowingEnterprises,” 1953 is filed with the HBS Archives Thesis Collection.


The following items have been removed from the collection and have been separatelycataloged:
  1. Barnes, Louis B. et al. Teaching andthe Case Method: Text, Cases and Readings, (3rd Ed.). Boston:Harvard Business School Press, 1994.
  2. Barnes, Louis B. et al. Teaching andthe Case Method: Instructor's Guide, (3rd Ed.). Boston: HarvardBusiness School Press, 1994.
  3. Christensen, C. Roland et al. Instructor's Manual to Accompany Policy Formulation andAdministration, (9th Ed.). Homewood, IL: R. D. Irwin, 1985.
  4. Gullette, Margaret M. (Ed.). The Artand Craft of Teaching. Cambridge, MA: Harvard-Danforth Center forTeaching and Learning, 1982.

Processing Information

Processed: August 1998

By: Jeffery Mifflin; revisedDominique Tremblay, April 2008; revised Laura Williams, May 2009.

Digital content processed: September2015

By: Keith Pendergrass

Digital content on physical media has been extracted when possible. Files weresurveyed, screened for privacy and confidentiality concerns, and transferred tosecure storage. Content open for research is described at the series and folderlevels below.
Link to catalog
Christensen, C. Roland (Carl Roland), 1919-1999. C. Roland ChristensenPapers, 1931-1998: A Finding Aid
Baker Library

Repository Details

Part of the Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University Repository

Baker Library Special Collections holds unique resources that focus on the evolution of business and industry, as well as the records of the Harvard Business School, documenting the institution's development over the last century. These rich and varied collections support research in a diverse range of fields such as business, economic, social and cultural history as well as the history of science and technology.

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