IXP Course: India; Social Entrepreneurship - Harvard Business School MBA Program

IXP Course: India; Social Entrepreneurship

Course Number 6066

Professor Tarun Khanna
Assistant Professor Prithwiraj Choudhury
On-Campus meetings during the Fall Term: TBD
January Term travel: TBD
Program fee & travel costs (see details on financial aid eligibility)
3.0 credits applied toward Winter term requirements
Enrollment: 45

Career Focus

This course will be of particular interest to students interested in entrepreneurship and identifying creative solutions to seemingly intractable social problems.  Students planning to lead, advise, or invest in companies with a current or anticipated future presence in India will also find this course appealing.

By bringing students to two of India's largest cities, Bangalore and Delhi, this course will also provide exposure to a highly contoured and variegated business environment; one that is dense with barriers to innovation but in which entrepreneurs must nevertheless operate.  As such, this IXP course will strengthen students' understanding of an emergent business context and sharpen their entrepreneurial toolkit.

Educational Objectives

Through a series of classroom meetings and an immersion experience featuring team-based projects, the India IXP will explore the institutional underpinnings that contribute to some of India’s most intractable social problems and the role that entrepreneurship plays in addressing them.

Emerging markets are characteristically defined by the presence of institutional voids - systemic weaknesses that impede growth and obstruct market maturity.  Entrepreneurship in this context resides in the ability of citizens to address these institutional voids and identify ways of “filling them.”  The intellectual framework for the fall course sessions, and indeed the entire IXP, will be based on this idea of identifying and addressing institutional voids.  In an effort to substantiate this framework, students will be asked to read Winning in Emerging Markets (Khanna and Palepu, 2010), which includes a taxonomy and of entrepreneurial organizations that are creating real results in India.  This will help students make their learning more efficient and actionable once they arrive in country. 

By focusing on India’s healthcare, education and mobile telecommunications sectors, the IXP seeks to identify how certain entrepreneurial efforts can repair the institutional fabric of a developing nation and foster social inclusion for all citizens. Three questions that embody the kinds of problems that will engage participants in this course are the following:

  1. When there is a severe shortage of doctors and surgeons and the state lacks the capacity to remedy this, what entrepreneurial efforts can provide tertiary medical care to an indigent, uneducated population?
  2. In a country where primary education is unavailable and numerous economic, cultural and religious constraints must be navigated, how can families be motivated to demand high-quality primary education?
  3. In a nation where high-quality census data are scarce, how can mobile phone operators best utilize the richness of their data to understand human behavior?  How can these data address social, health and economic issues?

Course Content and Organization

Overview and Introduction: The IXP will meet for class sessions in the fall in an effort to (1) provide a broad overview of the institutional context in India and consider the causes and consequences of some of her most pressing social problems, (2) highlight real world entrepreneurial attempts to provide solutions to these problems via case studies, and (3) allow some time for student teams to work together and prepare for travel.  Students will be asked to read Winning in Emerging Markets (Khanna and Palepu, 2010).

Projects:  Students will assemble into teams of five and work together on projects during the course of the India IXP. Teams will develop initial project concepts and contacts during the fall prior to travel. Projects will begin in-depth in India, and will require the development of a strategic business concept or implementation plan for addressing a social problem within the healthcare, education or mobile telecommunications sector.  Projects will be supported by local contacts in India, and will be enhanced through fieldwork (observational and data collection and analysis) throughout the immersion portion of the IXP.

Sectors: Student teams will focus on one of the following sectors, with extensive opportunities to draw upon findings from other teams and to interact with other projects throughout the IXP.

  1. Healthcare (Examples: Operation Asha, Nephroplus)
  2. Education (Examples: Edvance Group, ISFC, Educational Initiatives)
  3. Mobile phone telecommunications (Examples: Dimagi, Biosense, Fasal, Digital Green)

Deliverables: Student teams will present their ideas for a new business concept or implementation plan during a capstone event on the final day of the India portion of the IXP.  Feedback during this capstone will later be incorporated into a final paper (20-25 double-spaced pages) that presents an outline of a viable business plan targeting a specific problem that can be tackled by an entrepreneurial intervention.   



The IXP Model

In contrast to FIELD 2 Global Immersions, IXPs are customized according to individual faculty research and are designed to enable students to take an active role in the construction of their learning. In many instances, IXPs are built with a specific focus in mind and teams of students are called upon to collaborate directly with local company partners to scope projects, collect data and organize work plans before and during the immersion. Alternatively, some IXPs are designed to provide a more macro-level understanding of business practices in a specific country, and require students to prepare for engagement with a number of firms representing multiple industries. Longer in duration than FIELD 2, IXPs also tailor learning via field-based exercises, panel presentations, guest lectures, alumni events and plenary visits to relevant companies and organizations.

Course Credit and Fees

Students who successfully complete this IXP will earn 3.0 course credits, which will be posted in the Winter term.

HBS will provide in-country logistics for IXPs (including accommodations, select meals, and local travel) but students will need to contribute a fee of $1,800 towards defraying a part of these costs. In addition, students are responsible for their international round-trip air travel to India. Students who have an existing financial aid application on file may submit for additional financial support to participate in this IXP. Please see the Financial Aid website (login required) for more information on financial support for IXP courses.