Our long tradition of research in Entrepreneurship goes back to the 1930's and 1940's with the "father of venture capitalism," General Georges Doriot, and  Joseph Schumpeter's theory of innovation as a process of "creative destruction;" as well as his interdisciplinary Center for Research on Entrepreneurial History based at HBS and with its journal Explorations in Entrepreneurial History.  Building on our intellectual roots, our scholars come from a variety of disciplines including economics, finance, sociology, strategy, business history, management, and social entrepreneurship.  In addition, a number of our faculty come from practice as venture capitalists and start-up founders, which brings a wealth of experience that is of great benefit to our research.  As a result, our footprint is marked by the span and depth of our research which can be applied across a variety of platforms and methodologies.  We tend to focus on the following categories:
  • The identification and pursuit of opportunities at startups and established firms
  • Domestic and international funding for entrepreneurial endeavors
  • Innovation, particularly technological innovation in international ventures
  • The environment in which entrepreneurs make decisions across national borders, cultures, legal systems, and time
  • Social entrepreneurship
Large-scale projects and the use of longitudinal data are at the core of our research engine.  Over the past 12 years, Noam Wasserman has been building the world’s most comprehensive database of start-up executive compensation.  As another example, Felda Hardymon, Josh Lerner, and Tom Nicholas have joined together in a collaborative effort to examine the past, present, and the future of the venture capital industry in order to understand one of the most significant channels for the provision of entrepreneurial finance over time, with such studies as a work by Nicholas on one of the oldest venture capital firms in the US. 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. Kathy Giusti and the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation

    What do you do when your rising professional career is cut short by an unexpected cancer diagnosis? Kathy Giusti shifted careers, built a new organization that transformed how cancer research is done, and now faces the challenge of sustaining the organization and its funding for its newest venture. Since she was first diagnosed with multiple myeloma (MM) in 1996, Giusti had led an effort to better understand and treat the disease. She had co-founded the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF), helped form the Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium (MMRC), and brought together a diverse body of academics, researchers, pharmaceutical and biotech companies, physicians, and patients to combine their efforts around the disease. The MMRF had helped facilitate clinical trials for promising drugs, sponsored research, and raised a substantial amount of money for these purposes. In 2014, the MMRF was in the midst of its CoMMpass program; a multi-year effort to collect tissue samples from 1,000 patients at key junctures in their disease, sequence these samples to better understand the genetic underpinnings of MM and its many sub-types, and thus enable researchers to study a comprehensive sampling of patients. CoMMpass also had a patient-facing element which allowed the patient community to communicate with one another and with professional moderators. By mid-2014, some 550 patients were enrolled and 85 hospitals were participating. As a non-profit, the MMRF had historically relied on donations to fund its research operations. Giusti wanted to find a way to ensure a reliable revenue stream for the organization and give it greater financial stability. The MMRF had historically given away its resources and knowledge for free in order to speed research; Giusti worried if charging for some of its functions would be at odds with its mission and historical practices. She worked with her executive team to examine potential sources of revenue, and to decide if this was the right thing to do.

    Keywords: leadership; philanthropy; philanthropy funding; entrepreneurship; health care; management styles; management skills; personalized medicine; health care outcomes; cancer; Cancer care in the U.S.; personal care; Leading Change; Social Entrepreneurship; Giving and Philanthropy; Health Care and Treatment; Leadership Style; Management Style; Growth and Development Strategy; Business Strategy; Health; Health Industry; United States; Canada; Spain;


    Hamermesh, Richard G., Joshua D. Margolis, and Matthew G. Preble. "Kathy Giusti and the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation." Harvard Business School Case 814-026, June 2014. View Details
  2. Starbucks Coffee Company: Transformation and Renewal

    Starbucks Coffee Company: Transformation and Renewal analyzes the turnaround and reconstruction of Starbucks Coffee Company from 2008 to 2014 as led by CEO and co-founder Howard Schultz. The case offers executives and students an opportunity to examine in depth how Schultz and his team saved Starbucks from near-collapse, by both executing a deep, comprehensive return to its core values and, at the same time, investing in a range of new products, customer experiences and organizational capabilities designed to make the company fit for enduring success in a turbulent global economy. Set against the backdrop of the Great Recession, the case also considers the impact of unprecedented important shifts in consumer spending and confidence as well as new competitive forces on Starbucks' transformation. The case concludes by examining Schultz's own leadership journey, the lessons he learned personally during Starbucks transformation, and how he is using these lessons—within Starbucks and on the national stage—to redefine the roles and responsibilities of a public corporation in the 21st century.

    Based on extensive interviews conducted with Schultz and other Starbucks executives conducted from 2011 to 2014, the case offers a range of vital lessons on leadership, organizational transformation, restructuring, strategy, innovation, entrepreneurial vision, and customer service.

    Keywords: Howard Schultz; Starbucks; transformation; turnaround; Change; Decision Making; Entrepreneurship; Growth and Development; Leadership; Organizations; Problems and Challenges; Risk and Uncertainty; Strategy; Value; Consumer Products Industry; Food and Beverage Industry; Retail Industry; North and Central America; Europe; Asia; South America; Middle East; Latin America;


    Koehn, Nancy F., Kelly McNamara, Nora N. Khan, and Elizabeth Legris. "Starbucks Coffee Company: Transformation and Renewal." Harvard Business School Case 314-068, June 2014. View Details
  3. Groupon, Inc.

    Internet coupon site "Groupon" grew revenues rapidly and went public, but struggled to impress investors or operate profitably. Did it have a sustainable business model? Groupon sold coupons called Groupons which purchasers used to acquire goods or services at discount prices from participating merchants. It went public in 2011. Merchants liked Groupons because they paid nothing for advertising through Groupon unless a customer made a purchase. Groupon earned revenue by taking a percentage of every Groupon sold. Groupon sold Groupons by utilizing a large sales force which contacted individual merchants to sign them up. Groupon's sales grew rapidly and exceeded $2.5 billion in 2013. The challenge Groupon faced was earning profits. It spent heavily on marketing to acquire customers, who showed signs of becoming tired of receiving discount offers, and merchants, many of whom found that offering Groupons only brought them unprofitable customers. In an attempt to become profitable, Groupon introduced new products and strategies; however it had yet to succeed. Some observers questioned whether the company could remain viable. Its management had not inspired confidence and it had several conflicts with the SEC and had to restate its financials. In early 2013, Groupon fired its founding CEO and replaced him with co-founder Eric Lefkofsky. Lefkofsky must now guide Groupon forward.

    Keywords: Accounting; Corporate Governance; Entrepreneurship; Financial Management; Financial Reporting; Financial Statements; Organizational Culture; Strategy; Web Services Industry; United States;


    Palepu, Krishna G., Blythe J. McGarvie, and James Weber. "Groupon, Inc." Harvard Business School Case 114-038, May 2014. View Details
  4. Political Reservations and Women’s Entrepreneurship in India

    We quantify the link between the timing of state-level implementations of political reservations for women in India with the role of women in India's manufacturing sector. While overall employment of women in manufacturing does not increase after the reforms, we find significant evidence that more women-owned establishments were created in the unorganized/informal sector. These new establishments were concentrated in industries where women entrepreneurs have been traditionally active and the entry was mainly found among household-based establishments. We measure and discuss the extent to which this heightened entrepreneurship is due to channels like greater finance access or heightened inspiration for women entrepreneurs.

    Keywords: women; female; gender; entrepreneurship; political reservations; Development; informal sector; india; South Asia; Entrepreneurship; Gender Characteristics; Manufacturing Industry; India;


    Ghani, Ejaz, William R. Kerr, and Stephen D. O'Connell. "Political Reservations and Women’s Entrepreneurship in India." Journal of Development Economics 108 (May 2014): 138–153. View Details
  5. Firms and the Economics of Skilled Immigration

    Firms play a central role in the selection, sponsorship, and employment of skilled immigrants entering the United States for work through programs like the H-1B visa. This role has not been widely recognized in the literature, and the data to better understand it have only recently become available. This paper discusses the evidence that has been assembled to date in understanding the impact of high-skilled immigration from the perspective of the firm and the open areas that call for more research. Since much of the U.S. immigration process for skilled workers rests in the hands of employer firms, a stronger understanding of these implications is essential for future policy analysis, particularly for issues relating to fostering innovation.

    Keywords: immigration; firms; innovation; entrepreneurship; Selection and Staffing; Entrepreneurship; Innovation and Invention; Immigration; United States;


    Pekkala Kerr, Sari, William R. Kerr, and William F. Lincoln. "Firms and the Economics of Skilled Immigration." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 14-102, April 2014. View Details
  6. Making stickK Stick: The Business of Behavioral Economics

    stickK.com, a website that uses behavioral economics to help users achieve their goals, must choose between a direct-to-consumer or business-to-business model. The case includes a discussion of how principles of behavioral economics can be used to influence behavior, and how an understanding of behavioral economics can inform managerial decisions about product adoption and diffusion.

    Keywords: Behavioral economics; behavior change; B2B vs. B2C; human resource management; marketing of innovations; health & wellness; weight loss; charitable giving; Marketing; Consumer Behavior; Entrepreneurship; Internet; Health; Business Model; Sales; Human Resources; Health Industry; United States;


    John, Leslie, Michael Norton, and Michael Norris. "Making stickK Stick: The Business of Behavioral Economics." Harvard Business School Case 514-019, April 2014. View Details
  7. Clusters of Entrepreneurship and Innovation

    This chapter reviews recent academic work on the spatial concentration of entrepreneurship and innovation in the United States. We discuss rationales for the agglomeration of these activities and the economic consequences of clusters. We identify and discuss policies that are being pursued in the United States to encourage local entrepreneurship and innovation. While arguments exist for and against policy support of entrepreneurial clusters, our understanding of what works and how it works is quite limited. The best path forward involves extensive experimentation and careful evaluation.

    Keywords: entrepreneurship; innovation; agglomeration; clusters; place making; Industry Clusters; Entrepreneurship; Innovation and Invention; United States;


    Chatterji, Aaron, Edward Glaeser, and William R. Kerr. "Clusters of Entrepreneurship and Innovation." In Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 14, edited by Josh Lerner and Scott Stern. University of Chicago Press, 2014. View Details
  8. Firmes mondialisées et imaginaire de la beauté

    This article highlights the role of business enterprises as influences on ideals of human beauty. The homogenization of such ideals has been one of the most noteworthy features of globalization over the last two centuries. This study suggests that firms were both responders to, and shapers of, beauty ideals. It uses case studies of three prominent firms to support the argument. During the nineteenth century, Coty and other French firms imagined Paris as the global capital of beauty. During the middle of the twentieth century, the strategies of Estée Lauder and other firms drove the rise in importance and prestige of American beauty brands. In the more recent past, L'Oréal has fostered a new pluralism in beauty by acquiring American and other international brands and offering global consumers a portfolio of beauty ideals, which were both global and locally customized. The article concludes by suggesting that the strategies of business enterprises need to be more fully integrated into wider narratives of the history of globalization.

    Keywords: American History; Economic History; business history; globalization; Globalization; Entrepreneurship; History; Beauty and Cosmetics Industry; Europe; North and Central America;


    Jones, G. "Firmes mondialisées et imaginaire de la beauté." Relations internationales 157 (April–June 2014): 131–146. View Details
  9. Teach For China and the Chinese Nonprofit Sector

    Teach For China was founded in 2008 with the mission of expanding educational opportunity across China. By 2013, Andrea Pasinetti's lofty dream had taken flight: over 300 graduates from top American and Chinese universities were participating in its 2-year teaching fellowships in more than 87 rural Chinese schools. The organization had grown from a founding team of three in a shoebox office to an 80-person operation headquartered in Beijing with teams in six other locations across China. Teach For China adapted the model pioneered by Teach For America to meet the needs of the educationally under-resourced of rural China. Led by an American, could Teach For China reshape its international identity and become an enduring Chinese institution? Could Teach For China manage regulatory risks and challenge public and government skepticism of the still-nascent and highly volatile nonprofit sector? Would Teach For China be able to sustainably scale its model to truly end educational inequality in China?

    Keywords: nonprofit; China; education; Business and Government Relations; business and poverty; business and society; social enterprise; entrepreneurship; emerging market entrepreneurship; emerging market; NGO; Education; Entrepreneurship; Social Enterprise; Emerging Markets; Non-Governmental Organizations; Nonprofit Organizations; Education Industry; China;


    Kirby, William C., and Erica M. Zendell. "Teach For China and the Chinese Nonprofit Sector." Harvard Business School Case 314-052, March 2014. View Details
  10. Jurlique: Globalizing Beauty from Nature and Science

    Considers the marketing and strategic challenges faced by natural beauty brands using the case of Australian-based Jurlique, which was acquired by Pola of Japan in 2011. The case opens two years later in July 2013 when Sam McKay, the chief executive officer, on a visit to Pola's head office in Tokyo, heard news of critical comments about the company and animal testing in a Facebook post from a group in South Australia, where the brand had been founded as a small biodynamic farm in 1985. The discussion of Jurlique's involvement with animal testing was a sensitive issue as it contradicted the brand's strong environmentally-friendly and ethical positioning. The matter had already arisen during the Pola acquisition as Pola, like all Japanese cosmetics companies, traditionally tested products on animals. The animal testing issue is put in context by a discussion of how during Jurlique's growth as a successful premium brand there had been substantial changes in market position, in part associated with shifts of ownership. At times the brand had been focused on core green consumers, but McKay had sought to broaden the consumer base by repositioning it as making "the most effective products as natural as possible." The company lost few existing customers, and found that Jurlique's image was an asset in attracting Chinese consumers who liked the story of the Australian farm which produced most ingredients. However, Chinese regulations refusing to allow the firm's stores to use recycled wood, and mandating of animal testing, were challenging to the brand's global natural brand position. The case can be taught both in marketing classes concerned with green business and in strategy classes exploring the challenges faced by global brands.

    Keywords: Australia; China; environmental strategies; Green Business; marketing; Entrepreneurship; Globalization; Beauty and Cosmetics Industry; China; Australia; United States;


    Jones, Geoffrey, and Andrew Spadafora. "Jurlique: Globalizing Beauty from Nature and Science." Harvard Business School Case 314-087, March 2014. View Details
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