He graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1934 and William Mitchell College of Law (then the Street Paul College of Law) in 1936. He was admitted to the Minnesota Bar, but decided to further his education at the Harvard Business School, where he received his Master of Business Administration in 1938.
He was a pioneer in the study of entrepreneurship and corporate governance. He took a job at Harvard Business School after graduation as a research associate before leaving for military service four years later. He left the United States. Air Force in 1946 as a Lieutenant Colonel, having been awarded the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster.
Mace returned to Harvard Business School and created the first-ever course in entrepreneurship at Harvard.
Titled The Management of New Enterprises, the course has remained, in various incarnations, a fixture of the Harvard Business School curriculum for decades and is regarded as the foundation of the School"s extensive entrepreneurial management program Mace"s longstanding interest in corporate governance began with the research he undertook for his Harvard doctoral dissertation, which was published as a book in 1948 under the title The Boards of Directors of Small Corporations.
Following the publication of two additional books, Growth and Development of Executives and Management Problems of Corporate Acquisitions, Mace took a leave of absence from his teaching duties to undertake a project involving in-depth interviews with more than 100 chief executive officers and board members. The result was the 1971 publication of the influential book Directors: Myth and Reality.
Mace"s research on boards of directors aroused significant interest and controversy in the business community by uncovering the fact that many boards were too symbolic mere rubber stamps for top management.
Putting his research into practice, Mace served on the boards of Litton Industries. Interchemical Corporation; Jostens, Incorporated. Hanes Corporation; Squibb BeechNut.
Camp, Dresser & McKee.
United Technologies; and Harte-Hanks Newspapers. In 1955, Mace accepted an offer to join Charles B. (Tex) Thornton, who had just bought the Litton Company, a small electronics firm in California.
Working with Thornton from 1955 to 1958 as vice president and general manager of the Electronics Equipment Division, Mace guided Litton"s annual sales growth from $3 million to more than $80 million, as the company went on to become one of the most famous conglomerates in the history of American business. Mace returned to Harvard Business School, where he remained until his retirement in 1972.
During those years, he involved himself in a number of School activities, from teaching in a program for faculty members from foreign business schools to serving as the School"s first associate dean for external affairs
In retirement, Mace remained active despite becoming blind because of glaucoma. He acted as contributing editor of the Harvard Business Review from 1975 to 1978. He also continued to serve on several boards, wrote articles, and was consulted frequently by former students and colleagues.
He died in Massachusetts in 2000.