IXP Course: Latin America; Building Cities
Course Number 6087
Senior Lecturer John Macomber
Three on-campus meetings during Fall term(September 25, October 30 and December 4);
one on-campus meeting in Winter term (TBD)
January Term travel: Sunday, January 4 through Saturday, January 17
Program fee & travel costs (see details on financial aid eligibility)
3.0 credits applied toward Winter term requirements
This course will be of interest to students who would like to learn more about solutions to three of the major trends of our time: rapid urbanization; increasing scarcity of clean water, energy, clean air and effective transport; and the apparent inability of federal governments to fully address these problems with their own capabilities and financial resources.
Students on this IXP will test these ideas with companies and city leaders active in these endeavors. Students will emerge with significant understanding of urban development, the competitive advantage of regions, and the private finance of public infrastructure.
Rapidly growing cities in Latin America and around the world are constrained by the funding and delivery of basic infrastructure involving water, transit, power, and communications. New technologies, new business models, public-private partnerships, and increasing interest from financial investors should be able to mitigate some of these constraints, help cities and their citizens, and provide attractive business and investing opportunities. In theory, well-matched finance, appropriate design, and capable execution in addressing these components of cities can help urban areas to be more competitive with other cities, more environmentally friendly, and more able to provide opportunity for residents.
In practice, execution on these concepts to date ranges from nonexistent to sporadic to occasionally robust. This IXP seeks to understand the factors leading to this range of outcomes and to propose practical steps to improve the situation for all involved.
Students will gain extensive understanding of two countries in Latin America, rich awareness of the basics of infrastructure design, finance, and delivery, and an advanced sense of what private investors and businesses need in terms of revenue opportunities, regulatory and contractual environments, and technical skill to succeed in these areas. The potential is real to make a significant contribution to the economic and social development of these nations.
Course Content and Organization
Overview and Introduction: We will meet for two class sessions in the fall to discuss the basics of infrastructure finance, engineering, and procurement across each asset class, as well as to obtain basic background on the history, legal systems, and prior city building efforts in each metropolis.
Projects: Participants will work on a project in a team of 4-6 students while on the IXP.
Schedule: We will visit two cities for five to seven days each, one on the Pacific coast (Lima, Peru) and one on the Atlantic coast (Buenos Aires, Argentina. Note that the city pairs could change). Teams of students will focus on different aspects of infrastructure - notably transit, water, power, and communications, and possibly including ports - and work with closely with selected firms and investors to understand the characteristics of the asset classes, the organization of the city and nation, and the needs and capabilities of the firms that make these infrastructure initiatives successful… or not. The project segments will start and end by meeting with companies, the investment community, and city government offices of economic development for grounding in the administrative landscape. Each team will conclude its work with reports to those leaders in each city with respect to the most attractive interventions that appeal to both private and public sectors. A goal is to identify new actions by the city leaders that will unlock private capital and expertise and therefore allow the city to enhance its infrastructure -- without having to fund and deliver it all through public sector means.
Deliverable: Students will present their findings and recommendations to company executives, investors, and government officials at capstone events in each city. There is potential to publish findings as series of HBS Working Papers, technical notes, or case studies.
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 (including participation in all on-campus meetings during the Fall term) 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 $3,000 towards defraying a part of these costs. In addition, students are responsible for their round-trip air travel to Lima and from Buenos Aires and any costs associated with required visa documentation and immunizations. Students who have applied for financial aid 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.
For detailed information about what the IXP program fee includes and excludes, as well as information about student accommodations, please visit the GEO website.