Tarun Khanna

Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor

Tarun Khanna is the Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at the Harvard Business School, where he has sought for two decades to study the drivers of entrepreneurship in emerging markets as a means of economic and social development. At HBS since 1993, after obtaining degrees from Princeton and Harvard, he has taught courses on strategy, corporate governance and international business to MBA and Ph.D. students and senior executives. For many years, he has served as the Faculty Chair for HBS activities in India and South Asia.

A summary of his work on emerging markets appeared in his 2010 co-authored book, Winning in Emerging Markets, and an example of his comparative work on entrepreneurship appears in his 2008 first-person analysis of China and India, Billions of Entrepreneurs, both published by Harvard Business Press and translated into many languages. In 2014, his piece, Contextual Intelligence, was a runner-up for the McKinsey Prize for the year’s best article in the Harvard Business Review.

He was named the first director of the university-wide Harvard South Asia Institute in the fall of 2010.  The institute rapidly grew to engage over 150 faculty from across Harvard in projects embracing the pure sciences, social sciences and the humanities, and spanning the region from Afghanistan to Myanmar. In this role, he currently teaches a popular university-wide elective course, Contemporary Developing Countries, where students work in multi-disciplinary teams to devise practical solutions to complex social problems.  The course is part of Harvard’s undergraduate general education core curriculum, and is rare in that it also attracts graduate students from across the university, engaging everyone from sophomores to surgeons.

In 2007, he was nominated Young Global Leader (under 40) by the World Economic Forum; and in 2009, elected as a Fellow of the Academy of International Business.  In 2015, he was named by the Government of India to chair the national commission to help shape the fabric of India’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.  In 2016, the Academy of Management conferred on him its Eminent Scholar Lifetime achievement award for scholarship in International Management.  Outside HBS, he serves on numerous for-profit and not-for-profit boards in the US and India, including AES, a Washington, D.C. headquartered global power company, and India-based Bharat Financial Inclusion Limited (formerly SKS Microfinance), one of the world’s largest firms dedicated to financial inclusion for the poor.  He is a co-founder of several entrepreneurial ventures in the developing world, spanning India, China, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Recently, he co-founded Axilor, a vibrant incubator in Bangalore. In 2015, he was appointed a Trustee of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. 

He lives in Newton, MA, with his wife, daughter and son.



Yenchinginstitute. Jul 16, 2012. VIDEO LINK State Capacity and Local Governance: China and India Compared.

Rotman School. Feb 9, 2012 VIDEO LINK India Innovation Institute Series: Tarun Khanna.

The Globe and Mail. Feb 1, 2012. VIDEO LINK How business differs in the emerging world.

The Globe and Mail. October 6, 2011. VIDEO LINK Innovation: It’s all a question of context.

WorldEconomicForum .Sep 15, 2011. VIDEO LINK Dalian 2011 - Beyond the BRICs Start playing at search term (1:00:12).

Robert H. Smith School of Business. April 29th 2011 VIDEO LINK Emerging Markets Forum.

WorldEconomicForum. Sep 22, 2010. VIDEO LINK  Tianjin 2010- Doing Business at the Next Frontier.

 WorldEconomicForum. Sep 21, 2010. VIDEO LINK Tianjin 2010 - Rethinking the Corporation in the 21st Century & Social Entrepreneurs Award.

Harvard Business Publishing. Jun 22, 2010 VIDEO LINK How Companies Break Into Emerging Markets.

AlJazeeraEnglish. June 9, 2010.  VIDEO LINK  Riz Khan - Does democracy hinder economic growth?

Tarun Khanna on LokSabha TV, India, Part I February 2010

Part II    Part III  An interview conducted by Amrita Chowdhury, Associate Director of the Harvard Business School India Research Center, for 'In Transit,' a program aired on Parliament TV for members of India's Parliament, discussing 'Billions of Entrepreneurs,' as well as Prof. Khanna's 15+ year research into the markets of China and India.

SmithBusinessSchool. Jul 9, 2009. VIDEO LINK Getting China and India Right.

Google Tech Talks. March 12, 2009. VIDEO LINK "Billions of Entrepreneurs: How China and India are Reshaping Their Futures and Yours"

Professor Tarun Khanna discusses his book, “Billions of Entrepreneurs: How China and India are Reshaping Their Futures and Yours”. Removing half a billion people from poverty and into the productive workforce will profoundly affect the world economy. India and China are doing just that. Khanna's book shows how Chinese and Indian entrepreneurs are creating change through new business models. With insane growth rates and lots of what used to be American jobs: China is the factory floor and India the back-office, software shop. China is top-down party driven. India is a messy, vibrant democracy. This may be the complementary duo that changes the world.

World Economic Forum. Jan 30, 2009 VIDEO LINK Davos 2009 IdeasLab - Tarun Khanna