Teaching and Speaking

John A. Davis is a widely followed thought leader and speaker on the topics of family enterprise and wealth.

View More

Professor John A. Davis is a renowned academic and speaker worldwide on the topics of family business, family wealth, leadership, succession, life planning, change management, and related themes. He is a leading shaper of the family business field and an award-winning teacher and researcher. His insights in the classroom and on the conference stage stimulate participants to develop themselves professionally and personally, and implement strategies for the sustainability of their families and businesses. A lifelong creator of innovative education courses, keynote sessions, and teaching materials, his classes are among the highest rated and most impactful in the field.


Professor Davis speaks at conferences and leads workshops for organizations and families around the world. His keynote addresses and workshop sessions deliver pragmatic tools and strategies for audiences to implement meaningful change in their careers, families, ownership groups, and businesses.

He has spoken at events for the World Economic Forum, Harvard Business Review, YPO and WPO, Cambridge Institute for Family Enterprise, Family Business Network, Business Families Foundation, Family Firm Institute, HSM (Brazil), as well as for global and boutique financial institutions, private member networks, and individual families and companies. A representative sample of his speaking topics are shown below.


Professor Davis joined the Harvard Business School (HBS) faculty in 1996, and is credited with establishing the family business management area at Harvard. He is Founding Chair of the Families in Business program, a six-day executive program that he established in 1997, which examines pivotal issues facing multigenerational family companies. Professor Davis has published an extensive body of educational materials—case studies, articles, and diagnostic worksheets—that are used by graduate schools of business around the globe.

As a faculty member in the MBA program and in Executive Education for more than 20 years, he taught family business management, leadership, ownership, governance, change management, and life planning in several programs, including the Owner/President Management program, Boards for Private Companies, Key ExecutivesLaunching New VenturesReal Estate Management, Leading and Transforming Family Businesses—China, and in custom programs for executive teams and business owners.

At Harvard Business School, Professor Davis created and led the MBA course, Management of the Family Business, to explore the management, career, and personal issues found in family-owned companies. It is widely recognized by HBS alumni as one of the most significant and meaningful elective courses in the MBA program. He has served as faculty chair of the executive program Crossroads: Discovering the Path Ahead, which offers participants at a career or life juncture the opportunity to design a life strategy to achieve their personal and professional goals. He taught the MBA course, Building a Business in the Context of a Life, which addresses entrepreneurship, life planning, and personal and business success.

A pioneer in the family business field, Professor Davis’ 1982 doctoral dissertation at Harvard Business School on father-son work relationships was among the first dissertations globally on a family business topic. An early founder of the family business field as an academic discipline, he created the first research conference on family business in 1985, and co-founded some of the world’s first executive programs for family business owners and executives in the 1990s (IMD and Harvard Business School).

Professor Davis has served on the faculty of the Graduate School of Business at the University of Southern California, and has lectured on family business management topics at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Stanford University, IMD (Switzerland), INCAD (Costa Rica), Universidad Adolfo Ibañez (Chile), and Universidad de los Andes (Chile).

Fueling the Future Intrapreneurs

Fueling the Future Intrapreneurs:
Family Matters Forum

Rethinking Succession

Rethinking Succession

Speaking Topics

Strategies for Long-term Family and Enterprise Success

Global Forces that Impact the Future of Family Companies

Succession Planning and Next Generation Development

Ownership Strategies for the 21st Century

Multigenerational Wealth Strategies

After the Sale: Issues Facing Post-Liquidity Families

Building Unity and Alignment in the Family, Ownership Group, and Business

Planning Your Life and Career

To invite Professor John Davis to teach or speak at an upcoming program, contact Dina Dvinov at ddvinov@cambridge-institute.org, with as much advanced notice as possible.

View Events