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COLLECTION Identifier: Mss:784 1921-1984 D698

Georges F. Doriot papers

The papers of Georges F. Doriot, a noted Harvard Business School professor and pioneering venture capitalist, 1921-1984. Includes records of Doriot's long tenure as professor of Manufacturing at Harvard Business School, 1925-1966, and his personal records as president of American Research and Development Corporation, one of the first venture capital firms, 1946-1984.


  • 1920-1984

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials stored onsite. Please contact for more information.


14 linear feet (131 volumes, 4 boxes)

This collection consists of Georges Doriot's teaching notes and other course materials, correspondence, writings, and speeches related to Doriot's teaching from between 1925 and 1974. This collection also contains documents from Georges F. Doriot's involvement with American Research and Development (ARD), the venture capital company he helped to found. ARD was one of the first high risk venture capital companies in the United States. The documents in this collection contain Doriot's personal notes on ARD as well as the annual reports and documents from the merger of ARD with Textron, Inc.

Biographical Note:

A U.S. Army Brigadier General, financier and Harvard Business School Professor of Manufacturing, Georges F. Doriot was born in Paris in 1899 to Auguste and Camille Doriot. Auguste Doriot worked for Peugeot and Clément-Bayard before setting up his own car manufacturing company in 1906, Doriot, Flandrin, and Parant (D.F.P.), a top selling company until it went out of business in 1926. Georges Doriot spent his childhood in and out of the factory preparing for a career in the family business. However, in 1914, World War I broke out across Europe and in 1917 Georges enlisted in the French Army as an engineering officer in charge of artillery. Believing that post-war France was not suitable for advancing his son's education, Auguste decided that Georges would study manufacturing in America and later return to France to get a job. A year after Georges graduated from the Paris lycée in 1920, he accepted a letter of introduction addressed to a Mr. A. Lawrence Lowell from a friend of his father, and boarded a ship, the S. S. Touraine, to America to pursue a degree at M.I.T..

However, upon arriving in New York City and traveling to Cambridge, he called upon Mr. Lowell as a consideration, only to discover that Lowell was the current president of Harvard University. During the conversation with President Lowell, Doriot was persuaded to attend Harvard Business School, which Lowell had helped to found thirteen years earlier. Doriot enrolled and began taking classes in the spring of 1921. He graduated from the Business School as a "special student" a year later.

Following graduation, Doriot decided to settle in America instead of returning to France and the after-effects of the War. He accepted a position with New York & Foreign Development Corporation, an affiliate of the investment bank Kuhn, Loeb & Company, where he evaluated new technologies for possible investment. He stayed with the firm for four years, during which time he was appointed one of seven directors for a new entity called the International Gear Company, Inc. In his spare time, he wrote commentaries on political issues, mainly the Dawes Plan, under the pseudonym Beaulieu.

In 1925, Georges Doriot was hired by Dean Wallace B. Donham as the assistant dean of Harvard Business School. In fall of 1925, Doriot was asked to teach the second-year course "Factory Problems and the Taylor System" after pointing out issues in the course's structure. In the spring of 1926, he took on a second class, a second-year research course on management. That summer, he was promoted to Associate Professor of Industrial management and started his own course in Manufacturing Industries, geared toward the study of factories and production. Doriot maintained three tenets of teaching: one, that it was important to form a close bond between student and teacher; two, the value of hard work; and three, an emphasis on pragmatic management. In 1928, he took on the Business Policy course, a required full year course for second-year MBA students, teaching upwards of 300 men that school year. In fall of 1929, Doriot was promoted to full Professor of Industrial Management at the age of thirty. In 1937, he created the full year second-year Manufacturing Course, in which he pushed students to grasp the reality of manufacturing problems and solutions by working directly with local manufacturing companies and by writing reports for business on prevalent issues in the field. Doriot retired from teaching in 1966 after thirty years of teaching at the University.

In 1926, he came to the determination that Europe should have a business school based on the ideals of Harvard. This eventually led to the collaboration between the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Harvard Business School to create the "Institut Européen d'Administration des Affaires" (INSEAD) or the European Institute of Business Administration, at Fontainebleau, which opened in the Fall of 1930. In the months preceding the school's opening, Doriot translated HBS cases to be used in INSEAD's curriculum.

In 1939, during a meeting with President Roosevelt, the President asked Doriot to become a U.S. citizen, after which he would be appointed a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Armed Forces. A year later, when the US entered into World War II, Doriot became head of the Military Planning Division in the Office of the Quartermaster General, identifying the needs of soldiers and overseeing development of new products to meet those needs. One of the most ingenious of those developments was the creation of combat boot camouflage: to hide the tracks of soldiers, Doriot commissioned jungle boots with soles that would make American prints appear like local footprints. In 1942, Doriot was appointed chief of the Research and Development Branch of the Military Planning Division (MPD). Doriot sought to encourage the U. S. Army to view see the soldier as a human being, He believed that soldiers win a war, and they cannot do so without proper food and equipment. In October 1943, Doriot was promoted to Director of the MPD, which he held for the remainder of the war and supervised upwards of two thousand people on a multibillion dollar budget. Finally, in February 1945, as the war was drawing to a close, Doriot was promoted again to Brigadier General. He was later assigned to the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff in 1946, a position he held until 1959.

In 1946, he was appointed president of American Research and Development Corporation (ARD), one of the first publicly owned, high-risk venture capital companies, founded by Karl Compton, Ralph Flanders, Merrill Griswold, and Donald K. David. ARD's founders determined that it should not begin functioning until they sold 120,000 shares of common stock; half must be purchased by institutions rather than individuals. This reflected the founders' belief that research and development by smaller firms was vital to ensuring financial success of ARD. They openly warned their stockholders that they did not expect to show profits for several years and that ARD's mission was to "supply capital during the period of launching and insecure growth." Over the next 25 years, ARD financed and nurtured more than one hundred startups in postwar America.

American Research and Development, as led by Doriot, had very personal relationships with the companies they invested in. Doriot often referred to them as his "children," even telling a reporter, "When bankers or brokers tell me I should sell an ailing company, I ask them, "Would you sell a child running a temperature of 104?'" One of these "children" was Digital Equipment Corporation, a company that was valued at over $125 million ten years after ARD invested $70,000. In 1972, the same year as Doriot's retirement, ARD merged with Textron Inc., a move that Doriot grew to regret, saying that "Large corporations kill innovation." In 1985, Textron sold ARD, and five of its staffers started new funds called ARD II at $80 million and ARD III at $25 million.

Doriot lived in a Beacon Hill townhouse for many years with his wife, Edna, who passed away in 1978 after a two year battle with lymphoma. The Doriots were active supporters of the French Library in Boston, with Edna serving as first, in 1947, the secretary of the Library, and later a trustee and president, and retained a central role in the library's development for the rest of their lives. Doriot replaced his wife as president of the Library upon her death. They had no children, which allowed the couple to devote themselves utterly to their passions: work, volunteering, and each other. Doriot died on June 2, 1987 in his home from lung cancer, having been diagnosed nearly two years earlier.

Series Outline

The collection is arranged in the following series:
  1. Series I. Harvard Business School teaching records, 1925-1974
  2. ___Subseries I.A. Teaching and lecture notes, 1925-1974
  3. ___Subseries I.B. Manufacturing Course student reports, 1932-1966
  4. ___Subseries I.C. Manufacturing Source Books, 1961-1966
  5. Series II. American Research and Development Corporation records, 1946-1974
  6. ___Subseries II.A. Annual reports, 1951-1984
  7. ___Subseries II.B. Notes on ARD, 1946-1974
  8. ___Subseries II.C. Dealbook: "Merger of American Research and Development Corporation with and into Textron, Inc.", 1972
  9. Series III. Speeches, public articles, and research files, 1922-1976
  10. ___Subseries III.A. Speeches and Public Articles, 1922-1976
  11. ___Subseries III.B. Research materials, 1963
  12. ___Subseries III.C. Address book and other personal items, circa 1930s-1980s
  13. ___Subseries III.D. Interview with General Georges F. Doriot by Aulikki Olsen, 1980 (transcript)

Physical Location



Permanent loan from the French Cultural Center, Boston, 2012, 2014

Related Materials

Processing Information

Processed: April 2012

By: Tessa Beers
Link to catalog
Doriot, Georges F. (Georges Frederic), 1899-1987. Georges F. Doriot Papers, 1920-1984: 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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