William R. Kerr

Associate Professor of Business Administration

William Kerr is an Associate Professor at Harvard Business School. Bill teaches Launching Global Ventures for second-year MBA students; Launching New Ventures and Owners, Presidents and Managers for executive students; and Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives on Entrepreneurship for doctoral students. Bill was previously co-chair of the first-year course The Entrepreneurial Manager at HBS. He has received Harvard's Distinction in Teaching award and was designated the HBS Marvin Bower Fellow.

Bill's research focuses on entrepreneurship and innovation. One research strand examines the role of immigrant scientists and entrepreneurs in US technology development and commercialization, as well as the subsequent diffusion of new innovations to the immigrants’ home countries. A second research strand considers agglomeration and entrepreneurship, with special interest in how government policies aid or hinder the entry of new firms, cluster formation, and growth. A final interest area is entrepreneurial finance and angel investments.

Bill is a Research Fellow of the NBER and Bank of Finland, has received several awards for his research papers, and serves as an editor of the Journal of Economic Geography. Bill has worked extensively with the World Bank, Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council, and the National Science Foundation. Bill received his Ph.D. in Economics from MIT and his B.S. in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia.

Bill has worked with firms worldwide. Past projects include business plan development for start-up ventures in Hong Kong, establishing a corporate entrepreneurship and CVC unit within a Korean chaebol, and evaluating the acquisition of early-stage communications companies for a US multinational entering the Asian market. He also advised the governments of South Africa and Singapore on the economic benefits from telecom market deregulation.

Bill and his family live in Lincoln, MA. They enjoy outdoor sports and trail running, are active members of their local church, and maintain close ties to his wife's home country of Finland. Bill grew up in Alabama and remains a passionate college football fan.

  1. William R. Kerr: Winner of the 2013 Ewing Marion Kauffman Prize Medal for Distinguished Research in Entrepreneurship, awarded annually to one scholar under age 40 whose research has made a significant contribution to the literature in entrepreneurship.

  2. William R. Kerr: Winner of the 2012 FPD Academy Award for Best World Bank Research in Finance and Private Sector Development.

  3. William R. Kerr: Winner of the 2010-2011 H. Gregg Lewis Prize from the Journal of Labor Economics for his paper with William F. Lincoln “The Supply Side of Innovation: H-1B Visa Reforms and U.S. Ethnic Innovation” (July 2010).

  4. William R. Kerr: Awarded the 2011 Marvin Bower Fellowship to support research by outstanding scholars.

  5. William R. Kerr: Awarded a 2009 Faculty Research Fellowship from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

  6. William R. Kerr: Awarded the 2009 Kauffman Foundation Junior Faculty Fellowship in Entrepreneurship Research.

  7. William R. Kerr: Named Harvard Business School MBA Class of 1961 Fellow in 2008.

  8. William R. Kerr: Named a fellow of the 2006-2007 Innovation Policy and the Economy Group at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

  9. William R. Kerr: Awarded a 2004 Harvard University Certificate of Distinction in Teaching from the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard University.