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Baker News

february 2006

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Top Story

The Great American Business Leaders

Years of research at Baker Library are paying off for the HBS Leadership Initiative, whose work producing a database of top American business leaders has also led to several books and other materials that explore the subject of great leadership.

Starting in 2001 and continuing today on a weekly basis, the Leadership Initiative team has dived deep into Baker Library resources, says Director Anthony Mayo. To compile background material on the 1,000 business leaders profiled in The Great American Business Leaders of the 20th Century database, a variety of biographical research resources were employed including the Biography Resource Center, ABI/Proquest's historical archives of The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, Lexis/Nexis, Who Was Who, OneSource, Hoover's, and Factiva. "In addition, we made extensive use of the library's collection of biographies and historical and current company annual reports," Mayo says.

To determine whether candidates for inclusion in the Great Business Leaders database met certain financial metrics, Leadership Initiative researchers first worked with Research Computing Services to run a variety of analyses (e.g., return on assets, market capitalization appreciation, and Tobin's Q) to determine which companies might qualify for inclusion in the database. "With the list of companies and associated timeframes, we then needed to track down specific CEOs," Mayo relates. "Since no database of CEO tenure exists prior to the late 1970s, we made extensive use of Moody's and Standard & Poor's directories within Baker Library to identify specific tenure periods. This was a manual process which transpired over a number of weeks."

The research staffs in Historical Collections and in the main library helped identify specific sources of materials on individuals, industries, and particular time periods, according to Mayo. "The library staff were very helpful in identifying alternative sources of information or books which were not included in the Baker Library collection through the Interlibrary Loan Program."

The hard work paid off. The Great Business Leaders database has become the foundation for two books published by Harvard Business School Press: In Their Time: The Great Business Leaders of the Twentieth Century, released in October 2005, and Paths to Power, to be released later this. A third book about contextual intelligence in the airline industry is also underway.

Chaired by Professor Linda Hill, the Leadership Initiative was organized to be a catalyst for research on leaders and leadership and to design effective leadership development programs that are relevant for the twenty-first century. In addition to the Great Leaders database, the program has created a number of case studies, Executive Education programs, a video series, and other resources that support Harvard Business School's overarching mission to educate leaders who make a difference in the world.

Spotlight on Historical Collections

A Rich Trove in a New E-Resource

When HBS Research Fellow Michelle Craig McDonald searched for information on the Caribbean coffee trade in the eighteenth century, a prime source was just a few mouse clicks away.

The Making of the Modern Economy e-resource, available on HOLLIS since autumn, combines the two most important collections of business and economic literature in the world, the University of London's Goldsmiths' Library of Economic Literature and the Kress Library of Business and Economics at Harvard Business School.

Making of the Modern Economy makes available 12 million pages of material culled from 61,000 books published between 1460 and 1850, and from 466 serials that predate 1906. Subjects run the gamut from banking and finance to national defense, social conditions, agriculture, and empires. Many texts are in French, German, and other languages besides English.

McDonald has tapped in on campus, from home, and while traveling, using the e-resource for her coffee trade research and to develop a case for MBA students. Her dissertation is under revision for publication.

"The Making of the Modern Economy is an unparalleled resource for materials that are hard to find in other U.S. libraries and archives--or even anywhere else in the world," says McDonald. She has made extensive use of Edward Long's history of Jamaica and Bryan Edward's multi-volume study of the British West Indies, published in 1774 and 1794 respectively, as well as John Lownde's treatise on coffee planting in Dominica, The Coffee Planter: An Essay on the Cultivation and Manufacturing of that Article of West Indian Produce (1807), and P.J. Laborie's similar volume for Saint Domingue (now Haiti) and Jamaica, The Coffee Planter of Santo Domingo (1798).

"Laborie's work is better known, but still only available in twenty-three libraries worldwide, and most of these works are on microfilm copies from Baker's Kress Collection," McDonald notes. Lownde's book is even harder to find. Only three copies exist in American libraries, with three additional copies abroad. "Even Dominica's archive, unfortunately, lost its copy twenty years ago in a fire."

About 60 percent of the Kress Collection held in the Historical Collections Department is now available via The Making of the Modern Economy, taken from the Goldsmiths'-Kress Library of Economic Literature microfilm series created in 1972.

"This digital collection includes many rare titles in economic and business history and thought including first and early editions of economic classics by authors such as Adam Smith, Robert Malthus, and Jeremy Bentham," says Laura Linard, director of Baker Library's Historical Collections.

Researchers will also find an extensive selection of ephemeral material that provides a historical context for the growth and dissemination of ideas.

Contact: Historical Collections

New Services and Products

Service and Product Announcements

Baker Library hours will expand starting March 1.

  • Monday - Thursday: 9 a.m. - 12 a.m. (7 p.m. - 12 a.m. quiet study only, no services)
  • Friday: 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. (6 p.m. - 9 p.m. quiet study only, no services)
  • Saturday: 12 p.m. - 8 p.m. (4 p.m. - 8 p.m. quiet study only, no services)
  • Sunday: 12 p.m. - 12 a.m. (4 p.m. - 12 a.m. quiet study, no services)

Coin and Conscience

Historical Collections has launched a new lobby exhibit and related Web site, "Coin and Conscience: Popular Views of Money, Credit and Speculation" based on the Bleichroeder Collection.

Congressional Research Digital Collection

LexisNexis now provides full-text Congressional Research Service reports. These are good resources for topics including commercial policy, international trade, and healthcare.

Refworks Trial

The Harvard Libraries are conducting a trial of Refworks, a Web-based citation management system. As opposed to EndNote, no local software is required, and it is accessible to Harvard affiliates from any location. Try it, and let us know if you think it would be a worthwhile resource.

Information Mine

Bloomberg Professional

Baker Library recently added a number of Bloomberg terminals and upgraded several to Bloomberg Professional. The most obvious advantage of Bloomberg Professional is that it facilitates downloading of data from Bloomberg directly into Excel spreadsheets. This download can be performed from a number of displays in Bloomberg, and also in Excel using the Bloomberg add-in to Excel. The principal uses of the Bloomberg add-in are to download tables of static data, such as current identifiers for large groups of tickers, and to download long time series data for one or more tickers. The data may be used only by HBS students, faculty, and staff, and for academic purposes. Contact James Zeitler for more information.

Research Tip

Finding Historical Stock Price Data

CRSP (Center for Research in Security Prices at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business) is a primary source for historical monthly and daily data for common stocks traded on the NYSE, AMEX, and NASDAQ. The database includes daily price, returns, trading volumes, distributions, and identifiers. Up to now, CRSP stock data (NYSE) have been available on a monthly basis for the period beginning December 1925, while daily data (NYSE and AMEX) have been available for the period since July 1962. (NASDAQ data in CRSP begin in December 1972.) Now, CRSP has backfilled daily data for NYSE-traded stocks from 1925 through 1962.

These expanded daily data are scheduled to be available through WRDS by the end of February. The data can also be obtained through Baker Research Services.

Contact Sarah Eriksen

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