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COLLECTION Identifier: Arch GA 86

David A. Thomas papers


This collection includes papers of Harvard Business School professor David A. Thomas documenting his research, teaching, administrative, and professional activities.


  • 1981-2008

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials stored onsite. 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 lists of restricted material have been redacted.


58 linear feet (118 boxes, 7 cartons)
251 Megabytes (content from 182 disks)
1 website
This collection reflects the work of David A. Thomas as a teacher, researcher, writer, and administrative leader at Harvard Business School. Materials include correspondence, teaching notes, classroom materials, overhead slides, instructional videos, offprints, articles, case studies, drafts of writings, interview recordings on audiocassette and in written transcripts, interview and coding guides, datasets, meeting and committee files, speeches, consulting agreements, student assignments, and Thomas’s personal, student, tenure, and office files. The collection is divided into seven series: I. Correspondence and Subject Files; II. HBS Teaching Files; III. Research and Project Files; IV. Outside Activities; V. HBS Administrative Files; VI. HBS Student Files; and VII. Biographical Files.

Biographical Note:

David A. Thomas is a recognized thought leader in the discipline of strategic human resource management. His research addresses issues related to executive development, cultural diversity in organizations, leadership, and organizational change. Thomas was born September 26, 1956 in Kansas City, MO. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from Yale University in 1978, and Master of Arts in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University in 1981. Thomas then returned to Yale where he received a Master of Philosophy in 1984 and a Doctor of Philosophy in 1986, upon completion of his dissertation: An Intra-Organizational Analysis of Differences in Black and White Patterns of Sponsorship and the Dynamics of Cross-Racial Mentoring. The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania hired Thomas as Assistant Professor of Management in 1986. Thomas joined the faculty at Harvard Business School in 1990 as an Assistant Professor. He received tenure in 1998 and was awarded the position of H. Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration in 2000. From 2005 to 2008 he served as Senior Associate Dean and Director of Faculty Recruitment, and additionally took on the position of Unit Head for the Organizational Behavior Unit from 2006 to 2011. In the Organizational Behavior Unit, Thomas taught required curriculum courses on Leadership and Organizational Behavior and an elective course entitled Power and Influence; he also developed and taught the elective course Self-Assessment and Career Development. In the Executive Education program, Thomas served as faculty chair for Strategic Human Resource Management and led the Public Education Leadership Project. During his tenure at HBS, Thomas researched and wrote over 60 articles and case studies, and co-authored two books: Breaking Through: The Making of Minority Executives in Corporate America, with John J. Gabarro (1999); and Leading for Equity: The Pursuit of Excellence in Montgomery County Public Schools, with Stacey M. Childress and Dennis P. Doyle (2009). In addition to his teaching and research responsibilities, Thomas served as a consultant to corporations, government agencies, and non-profit organizations, and sat on the boards of several organizations, including Cambridge Trust Company, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Partners Healthcare, Center for Creative Leadership, and the Posse Foundation.

Series Outline

The collection is arranged in the following series:
  1. Series I. Correspondence and Subject Files, 1986-2004
  2. Series II. HBS Teaching Files, 1990-2008
  3. ___Subseries A. MBA Course Files, 1990-2008
  4. ___Subseries B. Self-Assessment and Career Development Course Files, 1990-2004
  5. ___Subseries C. Executive Education Course Files, 1990-2002
  6. ___Subseries D. Instructional Videotapes, 1990-2006
  7. Series III. Research and Project Files, 1987-2005
  8. ___Subseries A. Collected Research Sources, 1990-2001
  9. ___Subseries B. Research Data and Publications, 1988-2005
  10. ___Subseries C. Breaking Through: The Making of Minority Executives in Corporate America Book Project Files, 1987-1999
  11. Series IV. Outside Activities, 1992-2005
  12. Series V. HBS Administrative Files, 1992-2007
  13. Series VI. HBS Student Files, 1992-1998
  14. Series VII. Biographical Files, 1981-1998
  15. Series VIII. Digital Records, 1982-2005

Physical Location



The David A. Thomas Papers (Accession numbers A-12-05 and A-15-002) were received by Baker Library Special Collections from David A. Thomas in 2011 with additions received in 2014.

Processing Information

Processed: October 2016

By: Liam Sullivan

Digital content on physical media has been extracted when possible. Files were surveyed, screened for privacy and confidentiality concerns, and transferred to secure storage. Content open for research is described at the series and folder levels below.

Audiovisual content on physical media has not been reformatted.
Link to catalog
Thomas, David A., 1956-. David A. Thomas Papers, 1981-2008: A Finding Aid

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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