PERSONAL: Male. Education: Harvard University, Ph.D.
ADDRESSES: Office—The Winthrop Group, Inc., 2 Canal Park, Cambridge, MA 02141.
CAREER: Consultant, educator, and author. Winthrop Group, Inc., Cambridge, MA, founding director and head of editorial services; Monitor University, faculty member.
(With Paul R. Lawrence) Renewing American Industry, Free Press (New York, NY), 1983.
(Editor, with Richard H. K. Vietor) Telecommunications in Transition, Harvard Business School Division of Research (Boston, MA), 1986.
(With Malcolm S. Salter and Alan M. Webber) Changing Alliances, Harvard Business School Press (Boston, MA), 1987.
(With David B. Sicilia) Labors of a Modern Hercules: The Evolution of a Chemical Company, Harvard Business School Press (Boston, MA), 1990.
(With Michael Aaron Dennis) Architects of Information Advantage: The Mitre Corporation since 1958, Community Communications (Montgomery, AL), 1998.
TRW: Pioneering Technology and Innovation since 1900, Harvard Business School Press (Boston, MA), 1998.
(Editor, with Alan Brinkley) The Reader's Companion to the American Presidency, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2000, updated edition published as The American Presidency, 2004.
Corning: A Story of Discovery and Reinvention, Corning Incorporated (Moonachie, NJ), 2001.
(With Nitin Nohria and Frederick Dalzell) Changing Fortunes: Remaking the Industrial Corporation, Wiley (New York, NY), 2002.
(With Frederick Dalzell and Rowena Olegario) Rising Tide: Lessons from 165 Years of Brand Building at Procter & Gamble, Harvard Business School Press (Boston, MA), 2004.
Author of numerous articles. Former associate editor, Harvard Business Review.
SIDELIGHTS: Davis Dyer writes, teaches, and consults on strategy development, technology transfer, and organizational change and development. He is also the author or coauthor of numerous books focusing on the business world and major American corporations and industries. In Changing Alliances, for example, Davis and his collaborators Malcolm S. Salter and Alan M. Webber look at the changing American automobile industry of the 1980s as it fought to be competitive with foreign auto companies, primarily those in Japan. Dyer also worked with David B. Sicilia to write Labors of a Modern Hercules: The Evolution of a Chemical Company, a history of Hercules, Inc. The company developed as a spin-off from E. I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co., in 1912 as the result of an antitrust case and went on to become a widely diversified company with aerospace, industrial chemical, and polymer products. Writing in Business History Review, Donald R. Stabile commented, "As a case study in business history, this book sets high standards."
In The Generations of Corning: The Life and Times of a Global Corporation, Dyer and Daniel Gross provide an in-depth history of Corning, a leading glassmaking and technology company for more than a century and a half. The corporate history, which was commissioned by Corning as part of its sesquicentennial celebration in 2001, chronicles how one of America's oldest businesses has been able to compete on a global scale, from the development and application of such early innovations as colored signal lights for railroads in the nineteenth century to the development of Pyrex and color television tubes and the company's place in the international market producing fiber-optics and photonics. The authors also describe how Corning prospered by making essential changes in organization and leadership through successive generations. In addition, they examine the family members who served as the corporation's chief executives from 1851 until 1996. Booklist contributor David Rouse called the book "instructive and well written," while Isis critic Christopher J. Castaneda dubbed it "a well-done corporate history."
Dyer focused on another historic and successful American company in the book Rising Tide: Lessons from 165 Years of Brand Building at Procter & Gamble, which he co-wrote with Rowena Olegario and Frederick Dalzell. The corporate history recounts the company's founding in the 1830s and its core business of producing candles. Although extremely successful, the company would face an obstacle following the U.S. Civil War when kerosene lights were developed. Eventually, the company developed Ivory soap to save the business and went on to become a pioneer in "branding" and other marketing techniques. The book also pays close attention to the company's creation of Tide laundry detergent, a product that they nearly abandoned in the development stage but which went on to become one of its most successful products. Wall Street Journal contributor Joseph C. Sternberg noted that the book has many "interesting stories," but he also commented that it "tends to descend into mere corporate cheerleading, sometimes to the point of incredulity." An Economist reviewer noted that the authors "convey the astounding scale of the company's operations." In a review for Publishers Weekly a contributor called "the sections on toxic shock (product difficulties) and global expansion (business challenges) … particularly insightful."
Although primarily interested in the business world, Dyer has also edited a book with Alan Brinkley about the American presidency. The Reader's Companion to the American Presidency, which later appeared as TheAmerican Presidency, was first published in 2000 just prior to the beginning of the presidential administration of George W. Bush. The editors provide a retrospective look at the nation's previous presidents through the writings of a variety of scholars. Each essay includes a timeline of notable events during each presidential administration, as well as a list of economic statistics and a brief discussion of each president's family. Robert F. Nardini wrote in the Library Journal that "this book is a solid, concise guide to American presidents," adding that the "contributors provocatively evaluate the record of each" president. In a review of an updated edition of The American Presidency, Kliatt contributor Mary T. Gerrity called the book "fascinating reading, providing an appreciation of the trials and triumphs of executives."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 1, 2000, Mary Carroll, review of The Reader's Companion to the American Presidency, p. 1006; November 1, 2000, review of The Reader's Companion to the American Presidency, p. 499; May 1, 2001, David Rouse, review of The Generations of Corning: The Life and Times of a Global Corporation, p. 1648.
Business History Review, summer, 1992, Donald R. Stabile, review of Labors of a Modern Hercules: The Evolution of a Chemical Company, p. 384.
Economist, July 24, 2004, review of Rising Tide: Lessons from 165 Years of Brand Building at Procter & Gamble, p. 76.
Isis, September, 2002, Christopher J. Castaneda, review of The Generations of Corning, p. 538.
Kliatt, May, 2004, Mary T. Gerrity, review of The American Presidency, p. 37.
Library Journal, January, 2000, Robert F. Nardini, review of The Reader's Companion to the American Presidency, p. 135; May 1, 2001, Steven Silkunas, review of The Generations of Corning, p. 101.
Publishers Weekly, May 17, 2004, review of Rising Tide, p. 44.
School Library Journal, October, 2000, Claudia Moore, review of The Reader's Companion to the American Presidency p. 195.
Wall Street Journal, July 23, 2004, Joseph C. Sternberg, review of Rising Tide, p. W12.
Ward's Auto World, May, 1987, Mark Phelan, review of Changing Alliances, p. 20.*