Myra M. Hart
MBA Class of 1961 Professor of Management Practice, Retired
Myra Hart's research focus is high potential entrepreneurship. She has taught MBA and executive programs, co-chaired the entrepreneurship unit, and led several HBS initiatives. As a founding member of the Diana Group, Hart and a team of four other professors began a collaboration in 2000 and subsequently developed an international research consortium focused on female entrepreneurship. She and her colleagues have co-authored Clearing the Hurdles: Women Building High Growth Businesses, Women Business Owners and Equity Capital: The Myths Dispelled, and Gatekeepers of Venture Growth: A Diana Project Report on the Role and Participation of Women in the Venture Capital Industry, as well as numerous journal articles, reports, and two edited books. In 2007, the founding team was recognized with the FSF Nutek International Award for Entrepreneurship and Small Business research. She has also developed more than 60 HBS cases and teaching notes.
Hart has significant experience in the retail industry. In 1985, she joined Tom Stemberg as one of the four founding officers of Staples. Prior to that she was Director of Marketing for Star Market, a division of Jewel Companies.
She has served as a trustee of Cornell University and Babson College and is a lifetime Cornell Presidential Councillor. She is on the national board of the Smithsonian Institution and the advisory board of the Harvard Smithsonian Astrophysics Observatory. She is a director of several public and private companies including Kraft Foods Inc, Office Depot, and Nina McLemore, Inc. She also serves on Deloitte's Women's Initiative External Advisory Council. Harvard Business School has recognized Professor Hart with the Apgar Award for innovation in teaching and the Greenhill Award for faculty leadership. She has been named to the Hall of Fame by Enterprising Women, CEO (Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization) and the New England Business and Technology Association.
Myra M. Hart is investigating the relationship between an entrepreneur's industry-specific experience and the success of large-scale startups. Her work focuses on the links between the entrepreneur's knowledge and reputation resources-developed in the same or a closely related industry-and success in launching a new venture, maintaining organizational viability throughout the first five years, and reaching five-year financial targets. Hart's research is intended to enrich the understanding of entrepreneurial assets and skills that are significant determinants of new-venture success. It also extends the resource-based theory of the firm to newly forming organizations in which the entrepreneur and his or her resources can be considered synonymous with the firm. Field research and an extensive survey of entrepreneur participants in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Enterprise Forum were used to develop an empirical database. Hart's findings suggest that replication is as important as innovation in founding large-scale new ventures, and that the entrepreneur's industry-related knowledge and reputation contribute substantially to a new venture's success, particularly as mediated by the venture partner's qualifications.
Professor Hart is currently conducting research on women entrepreneurs pursuing high growth strategies. Hart is a member of the Diana Research Group, a team of five professors who have collaborated in an on-going investigation of the unique oppportunities and obstacles that women entrepreneurs encounted as they create and lead high growth enterprises. Her particular areas of interest are the equity financing challenges of women entrepreneurs and the organization, structure, and membership of the venture capital industry. The Diana Research team includes Professors Candida Brush (Boston University), Nancy Carter (University of St. Thomas), Elizabeth Gatewood (University of Indiana), and Dean Patricia Greene (Babson College). Working together since 1999, they have written 2 books, 2 book chapters, 3 refereed journal articles, made invited presentations at more than 30 conferences, and have organized an international research sypmposium that currently includes researchers from 18 countries.
Models of Success
Myra Hart is conducting research on the career and personal paths that Harvard Business School alumnae pursue over the course of their lives. She is developing programs to encourage and support the creation of dynamic and multi-facted models of success. These programs include personal assessment, strategic plan, and creative tools for alumni/ae.