Entrepreneurship is a featured research topic and an initiative at Harvard Business School
Our long tradition of research in Entrepreneurship goes back to the 1930's and 1940's with the “the father of venture capitalism,” General Georges Doriot, and Joseph Schumpeter’s theory of innovation as a process of “creative destruction.” Building on our intellectual roots, our scholars come from disciplines including economics, finance, sociology, strategy, business history, management, and social entrepreneurship. A number of our faculty come from practice as venture capitalists and start-up founders. We focus our research on the identification and pursuit of entrepreneurial opportunities; domestic and international funding of entrepreneurial endeavors; innovation, particularly technological innovation in international ventures; the environments in which entrepreneurs make decisions; and social entrepreneurship. As our research contributes new insights, we are advancing the world’s understanding of complex entrepreneurial issues and helping to increase the entrepreneurial success of our students and practitioners worldwide. 
  1. Innovating Beyond Ochsner

    Richard G. Hamermesh and Olivia Hull

    The Ochsner Health System has developed a proprietary software tool designed to treat hypertension. Built into the system’s electronic medical records, the Hypertension Digital Medicine program allows patients to record their blood pressure at home and share readings with their medical providers in real-time. A year and a half after launching the program, the health system’s internal startup, innovationOchsner, has gathered promising clinical results and validation from the medical community. The case explores the challenges Ochsner faces in scaling and disseminating the program to other healthcare providers.

    Keywords: electronic medical records; telemedicine; hypertension; high blood pressure; chronic disease; Entrepreneurship; Health Disorders; Business Model; Business Startups; Innovation and Invention; Growth Management; Marketing Strategy; Product Launch; Product Positioning; Science-Based Business; Business Strategy; Health Industry; Technology Industry; New Orleans; Louisiana;


    Hamermesh, Richard G., and Olivia Hull. "Innovating Beyond Ochsner." Harvard Business School Case 817-028, October 2016. View Details
  2. The CRISPR-Cas9 Quarrel

    Richard G. Hamermesh and Matthew G. Preble

    In mid-2016, the Broad Institute and the University of California, Berkeley were in the middle of a contentious patent dispute over which entity controlled a breakthrough gene editing technology called CRISPR-Cas9. With CRISPR-Cas9, scientists might soon be able to cure previously incurable genetic diseases such as sickle cell anemia and cystic fibrosis, among many others. The dispute had escalated to the point where the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) declared a patent interference and began a process to determine the intellectual property’s (IP) rightful owner. The USPTO’s decision would not only have serious commercial implications—the technology would be immensely important to biotechnology firms looking to develop gene therapy products, and was therefore sure to generate strong revenues for whichever entity owned the IP—but would also essentially award scientific credit for this technology and thus impact the reputations of the scientists on both sides who had worked so hard to discover the tool. This case touches upon a number of other key issues too: the ethical implications of gene editing; the state of IP and licensing in the biotechnology industry; the impact of lawsuits on developing new technologies and companies; and who should own platform technologies built, at least in part, by the research of multiple parties and government funding.

    Keywords: CRISPR; Broad Institute; University of California Berkeley; Intellectual Property; Patents; Law; Lawsuits and Litigation; Science; Genetics; Entrepreneurship; Biotechnology Industry; United States;


    Hamermesh, Richard G., and Matthew G. Preble. "The CRISPR-Cas9 Quarrel." Harvard Business School Case 817-020, October 2016. View Details
  3. Airbnb in Amsterdam (A)

    Mitchell Weiss, Emer Moloney and Vincent Dessain

    In February 2014, Amsterdam became the first city to issue new regulations specifically to allow home-sharing. Airbnb's Molly Turner, Global Head of Civic Partnerships; her colleagues at the San Francisco based home-sharing platform; and her counterparts in Amsterdam's city leadership now had to make the new rules function well. By the summer of 2014, the question of how exactly to do that remained unsettled. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that Airbnb was negotiating with Amsterdam officials to supplement the new home-sharing rules was not materializing. Turner was hearing that the company’s proposed commitments that spanned education on regulations, enforcement-assistance, and tax collection might not be enough to secure what would be Airbnb’s broadest partnership with any city anywhere. Nanette Schippers was Amsterdam’s Advisor on the Sharing Economy in its Innovation Office, and its lead at the negotiating table that summer. She was worried by the stand-still, too. A primary reason for the impasse in the negotiations was that Amsterdam wanted access to Airbnb’s data in order to enforce the new laws more easily, while Airbnb sought to protect user privacy. For Airbnb, privacy, precedents and platform principles were at stake. For Amsterdam, it was a matter of making sure that the historic city did not become “Venice, or Florence, or ‘Disneyland’”; that it wasn’t overrun by visitors and that locals weren’t crowded out. Could the two parties now find dry land?

    Keywords: public entrepreneurship; innovation; sharing economy; Amsterdam; Airbnb; Molly Turner; regulation; homesharing; tourism; Business and Government; Public-private partnership; Entrepreneurship; Business and Government Relations; Government Administration; Public Sector; City; Tourism Industry; Public Administration Industry; Travel Industry; Netherlands; Europe;


    Weiss, Mitchell, Emer Moloney, and Vincent Dessain. "Airbnb in Amsterdam (A)." Harvard Business School Case 817-013, October 2016. View Details
  4. Pivoting Isn't Enough: Principled Pragmatism and Strategic Reorientation in New Ventures

    Rory McDonald and Cheng Gao

    New technology ventures often experience deviations from their original plans that oblige them to reorient in pursuit of better fit between their evolving products and target customers. Yet research is largely silent on how entrepreneurs explain and justify their ventures in the wake of fundamental redirections in strategy. Since ventures attain legitimacy and resources based on original aims that constituencies find compelling, entrepreneurs’ initial claims are likely to complicate subsequent course corrections. To shed light on how ventures effectively manage strategic reorientations, we conducted an inductive, longitudinal field study of two startups in the “robo-advisor” sector. Despite similar initial profiles, parallel reorientations, and comparable end products, the startups’ fortunes diverged in a conspicuous way that is difficult to reconcile with prior research. We develop a theoretical model introducing principled pragmatism—a novel strategy process that enables entrepreneurs to make changes to their fledgling businesses while portraying faithfulness to enduring aims. Our framework suggests that technology ventures’ success depends not only on sensible redirections, but also on how entrepreneurs anticipate, communicate, and pace these changes to various external supporters. In other words, how they explain strategic reorientations may matter as much or more than the changes themselves. Successful entrepreneurs do not merely generate and test hypotheses, like scientists, to find viable product solutions; they also resemble adept politicians—convincingly justifying deviations from plan to diverse constituencies.

    Keywords: strategic reorientation; technology entrepreneurship; innovation; product development processes; organizational adaptation; qualitative methods (general); Technology; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Communication; Entrepreneurship; Alignment; Innovation and Invention; Product Development;


    McDonald, Rory, and Cheng Gao. "Pivoting Isn't Enough: Principled Pragmatism and Strategic Reorientation in New Ventures." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 17-031, October 2016. View Details
  5. National Image as a Competitive Disadvantage: The Case of the New Zealand Organic Food Industry

    G. Jones and Simon Mowatt

    This article examines why organic agriculture and food consumption developed more strongly in some countries than others between the 1970s and the 2000s. The focus is the limited growth of the New Zealand organic sector, which contrasts with countries such as Denmark, which were similar in size and shared significant export agribusiness sectors, but whose organic food sector became significantly larger. While the power of incumbent vested interests and unsupportive public policies emerge as major explanatory factors, the article argues that the long-established national image of New Zealand as a clean and green country may have been the major constraint.

    Keywords: entrepreneurship; industrial organization; Chinitz; agglomeration; clusters; cities; mines; political economy; business history; FDI; Agribusiness Industry; Agriculture; Agribusiness; Entrepreneurship; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; Food and Beverage Industry; Retail Industry; New Zealand; Denmark;


    Jones, G., and Simon Mowatt. "National Image as a Competitive Disadvantage: The Case of the New Zealand Organic Food Industry." Business History 58, no. 8 (2016): 1262–1288. View Details
  6. The Ecosystem of Shared Value

    Mark R. Kramer and Marc W. Pfitzer

    Governments, NGOs, companies, and community members must all be involved in programs to create shared value, yet they work more often in opposition than in alignment. A movement known as collective impact has facilitated successful collaborations in the social sector, and it can guide businesses in bringing together the various actors in their ecosystems to help remedy some of the world's most urgent problems. In the process, companies will find economic opportunities that their competitors miss. Five elements must be in place for a collective-impact effort to achieve its aims: (1) a common agenda, which helps align the players' efforts and defines their commitment; (2) a shared measurement system; (3) mutually reinforcing activities; (4) constant communication, which builds trust and ensures mutual objectives; and (5) dedicated “backbone” support, delivered by a separate, independently funded staff, which builds public will, advances policy, and mobilizes resources.

    Keywords: Social Entrepreneurship; Cooperation;


    Kramer, Mark R., and Marc W. Pfitzer. "The Ecosystem of Shared Value." Harvard Business Review 94, no. 10 (October 2016): 80–89. View Details
  7. Self-Employment Dynamics and the Returns to Entrepreneurship

    Eleanor W. Dillon and Christopher T. Stanton

    Small business owners and others in self-employment have the option to transition to paid work. If there is initial uncertainty about earnings in entrepreneurship, this option increases the expected lifetime value of entering self-employment relative to expected pay in a single year. This paper first documents that moves between paid work and self-employment are common and consistent with experimentation to learn about entrepreneurial earnings. This pattern motivates estimating the expected returns to entering self-employment within a dynamic lifecycle model that allows for non-random selection in and out of self-employment and gradual learning about the entrepreneurial earnings process. The model accurately fits entry patterns into self-employment by age, with returns to entrepreneurship varying over the lifecycle. The pre-tax lifetime value of self-employment is positive at the median. The option to return to paid work is large enough to reverse the result from cross-sectional studies that the median man expects to earn significantly less from self-employment. However, after accounting for progressive taxation and the additional employer portion of the payroll tax assessed on the self-employed, the median lifetime after-tax earnings gap between self-employment and paid work is approximately zero.

    Keywords: self-employed; entrepreneurship; Small Business; Business Earnings; Entrepreneurship; Ownership; Compensation and Benefits;


    Dillon, Eleanor W., and Christopher T. Stanton. "Self-Employment Dynamics and the Returns to Entrepreneurship." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 17-022, September 2016. View Details
  8. LabCDMX: Experiment 50

    Mitchell Weiss and Maria Fernanda Miguel

    There were probably 30,000 public buses, minibuses, and vans in Mexico City. Though, in 2015, no one knew for certain since no comprehensive schedule existed. This was why el Laboratorio para la Ciudad (or LabCDMX) had spawned an effort to generate a map of the labyrinth system that provided an estimated 14 million rides a day. Gabriella Gómez-Mont, the Lab’s founder and director, had led her team in a project to crowd-source the routes from volunteer riders in what came to be known as Mapatón CDMX. After four pilots and a two-week “mapping marathon” later, she wondered exactly what to make of the lab’s fiftieth experiment? Was Mapatón successful?

    Keywords: public entrepreneurship; experimentation; lean startup; government; innovation; crowdsourcing; Open Data; transportation; Mexico; Mexico City; Entrepreneurship; Social Entrepreneurship; Innovation and Invention; Innovation Leadership; Government Administration; Transportation; Transportation Industry; Mexico City; Mexico;


    Weiss, Mitchell, and Maria Fernanda Miguel. "LabCDMX: Experiment 50." Harvard Business School Case 817-031, September 2016. View Details
  9. FJ Management Inc.

    Lynda M. Applegate and Matthew Preble

    In late 2015, Crystal Call Maggelet, president and CEO of FJ Management, is working with her investment committee to help set the company’s strategic direction. Maggelet, daughter of the company’s founder, has led FJ Management since 2009 when she stepped in as CEO following an unexpected bankruptcy. At that time, FJ Management was known as Flying J. Flying J owned and operated hundreds of truck stops—which it called Travel Plazas—nationwide and was a growing multi-billion dollar business, but broader problems in the oil and credit markets in late 2008 forced it to declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
    Maggelet, who had been serving on Flying J’s board, became its new CEO and was able to successfully manage competing stakeholder demands, keep the business running, and ultimately paid back every dollar it owed to its creditors by selling the company’s core assets—its travel plazas—to its main competitor in 2010. Since that time, the company had returned to a healthy financial position, diversified its holdings, and made investments in diverse industries to determine how to grow the company, since renamed FJ Management. In 2015, Maggelet now wants to set a clear path forward for the company.

    Keywords: turnaround; family business; transformation; Volatility; change management; entrepreneurship; ethics; moral sensibility; Values and Beliefs; Cash flow; insolvency and bankruptcy; financial liquidity; financial management; governance; corporate governance; governance controls; company history; leadership; leading change; crisis management; negotiation; Organizational Change and Adaptation; family ownership; business and stakeholder relations; Business Strategy; Family Business; Transformation; Volatility; Change Management; Entrepreneurship; Ethics; Moral Sensibility; Values and Beliefs; Cash Flow; Insolvency and Bankruptcy; Financial Liquidity; Financial Management; Governance; Corporate Governance; Governance Controls; Leadership; Leading Change; Crisis Management; Negotiation; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Family Ownership; Business and Stakeholder Relations; Business Strategy; Energy Industry; Travel Industry; Retail Industry; Service Industry; Utah;


    Applegate, Lynda M., and Matthew Preble. "FJ Management Inc." Harvard Business School Case 817-043, September 2016. View Details
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