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.  Outside HBS, he serves on numerous for-profit and not-for-profit boards in the US and India, including AES, a Washington DC headquartered global power company, and India-based 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.


  1. Health Care Delivery and Innovation in the Developing World

    by Tarun Khanna

    This research project focuses on healthcare in emerging markets. It looks at data from hospitals in the U.S. and India and compares productivity, medical innovation, healthcare cost etc…It considers the global supply chain in medicine and healthcare, and examines how rising insurance costs and increased instances of litigation are prompting geographic shifts in where and how medical innovation is being created and carried out.

    Keywords: health care; emerging markets; medical services; innovation; Health; Health Care and Treatment; Emerging Markets; Innovation and Management;

  2. Emerging Giants

    by Tarun Khanna

    The project investigates how to build world-class companies from emerging markets. This builds on a five-year study of diversified, often family-controlled, business groups in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and on a concurrent study of de novo entrepreneurship in a range of emerging markets.
  3. China and India in Comparative Business Perspective

    by Tarun Khanna

    The project studies the alternative development trajectories undertaken by two large populous Asian countries, China and India, projected to account for close to half the world's population in a few decades. On many dimensions, notably willingness to embrace foreign investment and extent to which domestic entrepreneurship is encouraged, the two giants have adopted different paths. The project studies multinationals and domestic indigenous entrepreneurship in each of the countries using large-sample, historical and current field data.