Entrepreneurial Leadership in Creative Industries - Harvard Business School MBA Program

Entrepreneurial Leadership in Creative Industries (formerly Creative High-Impact Ventures: Entrepreneurs Who Changed the World)

Course Number 1636

Associate Professor Mukti Khaire
Winter; Q3Q4; 3 credits
25 sessions


The venture capitalist Arthur Rock once said, "I prefer to invest in companies that change the way we live and think." This course is focused on strategies for creating and growing such companies: entrepreneurial leaders in the creative industries. Firms in creative industries, play a role in every aspect of our lives, from what we eat and wear, to how we entertain ourselves, and what interests we pursue. Pioneering entrepreneurial leaders (such as Chanel, Sundance, Atavist) in creative industries face structural, behavioral, social, and cultural obstacles to the adoption of radically novel products and services. These barriers are unique because customers often do not accept unfamiliar new creative products, regarding them as worthless (e.g., high fashion, modern art, independent cinema). To overcome these barriers successful firms have to influence the ecosystem to change consumer behavior by redefining what is regarded as acceptable and valuable in society. These firms thus capture economic value by transforming cultural norms in ways that appear to, and sometimes do, change the world. This course will examine such market-pioneers in a wide range of consumer-facing creative industries such as fashion, art, music, film, publishing, and food.

Career Focus

ELCI (formerly CHIV) is a course on entrepreneurial leadership, targeted towards students who wish to understand the structure of creative industries and be inspired to start, work or consult for, or invest in large and small creative, high-impact firms. The course may also interest students seeking to understand how firms offering radical innovations can create new markets by addressing the entire market ecosystem. Educational Objectives: The objective of ELCI (formerly CHIV) is to help students understand how to effectively create, manage, or invest in firms that successfully compete in creative industries. Because the structure of creative industries is unique, the course takes an ecosystem-level perspective to understand how value is created in these industries. We examine common themes that emerge from studying pioneering firms - such as Chanel, Sundance, Whole Foods, Restaurant Noma, Michelin Guide, Penguin Publishing, Saffronart.com - that have fundamentally changed consumers and culture to their advantage. The goal is to help entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial managers formulate competitive strategy that enables radically innovative creative firms to thrive and stay culturally relevant in the long run. We will focus on three main issues:

1. What kinds of products and firms face behavioral, social, and cultural barriers to their widespread adoption? What is the common form of these constraints and how can they be overcome to create new markets? What are ways in which firms can and have leveraged cultural norms and institutions to gain economic benefits?

2. What are the factors and who are the tastemakers - trade press, media, critics, reviewers, festivals - that affect firms' market-creation efforts? How can firms influence these actors and the ecosystem?

3. Having created new markets and gained economic benefits, how can firms sustain their sense of purpose to continue to succeed and grow? What is the right balance between economic and cultural value that firms should achieve in order to maintain their market position?

Cases focus on established and new, large and small, for-profit and not-for-profit firms. The case analyses and classroom discussions will draw from multiple disciplines and areas of business management. Most of the classes are structured around cases; we will also use other pedagogical tools such as 'live cases,' panels, and lectures. Additionally, there will be opportunities to interact with case protagonists who visit class.

With the option of working in teams with two or more members ELCI (formerly CHIV) students will be required to complete a paper that leverages tools and concepts covered in ELCI (formerly CHIV). Students are expected to find their own paper ideas, although Prof. Khaire will help whenever possible. The course is therefore particularly useful for students wishing to work for academic credit on projects or business plans related to the creative industries (including, but not limited to fashion, retail, art, design, architecture, film, media), with Prof Khaire's supervision.