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.


  1. Contemporary South Asia: A Survey of Intractable Problems and Innovative Solutions

    by Tarun Khanna

    This survey course focuses on several categories of social and economic problems faced by the countries of South Asia, specifically, in the realms of Education, Health, Financial Inclusion, and Telecommunications. Each problem category will be dealt with through a survey lecture, supplemented by assigned and recommended readings for those wishing to explore the topic further, and an in-depth look at one or more organizations, companies, non-profits, or regulatory interventions that have attempted to address some of the problems within that category. The primary objective of the course is to immerse students – in an inter-disciplinary and university-wide setting – to the problems of our generation in South Asia, and also to a range of entrepreneurial attempts to solve these, warts and all.

  2. Globalization of Emerging Markets

    by Tarun Khanna

    A comprehensive look at emerging markets, including the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China), as they integrate with today's world economy. We will offer a conceptual framework to analyze emerging markets from multiple lenses - that of indigenous entrepreneurs struggling to overcome constraints to build world-class businesses, that of multinationals from the developed triad countries tapping into emerging markets for their next growth spurt, that of investors in the developed world seeking to profit from investment opportunities, and that of policymakers in developed and developing countries seeking to understand this new wave of globalization. The course is an experimental half-course that builds on our past decade of research in emerging markets, and draws on foundational material from first-year Strategy, Finance, and BGIE.

  3. Strategy

    by Tarun Khanna

    The objective of this course is to help students develop the skills for formulating strategy. It provides an understanding of: (1)A firm's operative environment and how to sustain competitive advantage (2)How to generate superior value for customers by designing the optimum configuration of the product mix and functional activities (3) How to balance the opportunities and risks associated with dynamic and uncertain changes in industry attractiveness and competitive position. Students learn to: Develop a mastery of a body of analytical tools and the ability to take an integrative point of view. Use these tools to perform in-depth analyses of industries and competitors, predict competitive behavior, and analyze how firms develop and sustain competitive advantage over time. Particular attention is paid to competitive positioning; understanding comparative costs; and addressing issues such as cannibalization, network externalities, and globalization.