Josh Lerner

Jacob H. Schiff Professor of Investment Banking
Unit Head, Entrepreneurial Management

Josh Lerner is the Jacob H. Schiff Professor of Investment Banking at Harvard Business School, and head of the Entrepreneurial Management unit. He graduated from Yale College with a special divisional major that combined physics with the history of technology.  He worked for several years on issues concerning technological innovation and public policy at the Brookings Institution, for a public-private task force in Chicago, and on Capitol Hill.  He then earned a Ph.D. from Harvard's Economics Department.

Josh Lerner is the Jacob H. Schiff Professor of Investment Banking at Harvard Business School, and head of the Entrepreneurial Management unit. He graduated from Yale College with a special divisional major that combined physics with the history of technology.  He worked for several years on issues concerning technological innovation and public policy at the Brookings Institution, for a public-private task force in Chicago, and on Capitol Hill.  He then earned a Ph.D. from Harvard's Economics Department. 

Much of his research focuses on venture capital and private equity organizations.  (This research is collected in three books, The Venture Capital Cycle, The Money of Invention, and Boulevard of Broken Dreams.)  He also examines policies on innovation and how they impact firm strategies.  (That research is discussed in the books Innovation and Its Discontents, The Comingled Code, and the Architecture of Innovation.)  He co-directs the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Program and serves as co-editor of their publication, Innovation Policy and the Economy. He founded and runs the Private Capital Research Institute, a nonprofit devoted to encouraging access to data and research about venture capital and private equity, and serves as vice-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Investing.

In the 1993-1994 academic year, he introduced an elective course for second-year MBAs.  Over the past two decades, “Venture Capital and Private Equity” has consistently been one of the largest elective courses at Harvard Business School.  (The course materials are collected in Venture Capital and Private Equity: A Casebook, now in its fifth edition, and the textbook Venture Capital, Private Equity, and the Financing of Entrepreneurship.)  He also teaches a doctoral course on entrepreneurship and chairs the Owners-Presidents-Managers Program and executive courses on private equity. 

Among other recognitions, he is the winner of the Swedish government’s Global Entrepreneurship Research Award.  He has recently been named one of the 100 most influential people in private equity over the past decade by Private Equity International magazine and one of the ten most influential academics in the institutional investing world by Asset International's Chief Investment Officer magazine. He currently serves as Vice Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Investing.

  1. Owner/President Management Progam (Executive Education)

    As business owners and entrepreneurs prepare to take their companies to the next level in a highly competitive global arena, they must be fully equipped to master a range of skills—from strategy development to financial management to team building to negotiation. Owner/President Management (OPM) provides a transformative and supportive environment where they can step back from daily operations and learn how to become a more effective leader, deliver greater value to stakeholders, and ensure further success for themselves and their companies.
  2. Private Equity and Venture Capital (Executive Education)

    As equity markets appear to strengthen, interest rates remain low, and asset values look attractive, private equity firms are uniquely positioned to pursue new opportunities. This leadership development program helps executives master the innovative approaches required to adapt best practices to meet today's unprecedented investment challenges, find new pathways to significant growth, and increase returns on invested capital.

  3. Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives on Entrepreneurship (Doctoral)

    Entrepreneurship—the formation and growth of new firms—is a complex phenomenon that has historically attracted relatively little academic attention. In recent years, however, scholars in a variety of disciplines have been devoting increasing attention to this topic. This course will explore the emerging work in this dynamic area. Reflecting the complex nature of the entrepreneurship, the course will touch on literature in a variety of academic disciplines, but the readings will primarily focus on discipline-oriented research from an economics, finance, and sociological perspective.
  4. Venture Capital and Private Equity (MBA)

    The growth of private equity internationally has been dramatic, to the point that the asset class has been both lauded as the savior and vilified as the cause of our current economic malaise. Over the past two decades, private equity- ranging from venture capital to buy- outs and even to certain activities by absolute return funds (hedge funds) -has come to play an increasingly important role in shaping our economy. Their promise of "above market" returns has attracted investments from pension funds upon which millions of our elders rely and universities which educate future contributors to society. Yet private equity organizations often operate in mysterious ways, with little public visibility. This course seeks to understand how these organizations work, why they take the forms that they do, and where crucial problems-and opportunities for innovation-exist. We examine the strategies and incentives of the various players and how they maneuver through the business cycle. Cases are recent and class speakers are common so the current private equity environment and the changing landscape are features of every class.