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. Tom Kalil, Deputy Director for Technology & Innovation

    Linda A. Hill and Allison J. Wigen

    This case explores the role of Tom Kalil as Deputy Director for Technology & Innovation at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. With the end of President Obama's Administration drawing near, Kalil and his team of "policy entrepreneurs" must work to build an ecosystem of individuals and organizations both inside and outside the Federal government, if they hope to see their science & technology initiatves continue into the next Administration. The case allows for discussion of: leading innovation ecosystems; building public-private and public-public collaborations; leading system innovation; talent management and development; and public sector innovation.

    Keywords: innovation; Innovation Leadership; Government and Politics; government innovation; talent management; collaboration; policy-making; Public sector management; leadership; leadership and managing people; Public-Private Partnerships; Ecosystems; science and technology studies; public entrepreneurship; Public entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship, leadership, business and government; Entrepreneurship; Government and Politics; Leadership; Networks; Partners and Partnerships; Science; Technology; Technology Industry; North and Central America; United States; District of Columbia;


    Hill, Linda A., and Allison J. Wigen. "Tom Kalil, Deputy Director for Technology & Innovation." Harvard Business School Case 417-021, August 2016. View Details
  2. S'well: The Mass Market Decision

    Youngme Moon

    This case tells the story of how Sarah Kauss, a young female entrepreneur, built a premium water bottle brand from scratch. After having built a high-end brand, the key decision in the case is whether to begin expanding the S'well product portfolio to the mass market.

    Keywords: Brands and Branding; Marketing; Business Startups; Entrepreneurship; Distribution; Strategy; United States;


    Moon, Youngme. "S'well: The Mass Market Decision." Harvard Business School Case 317-019, August 2016. View Details
  3. Alphabet Eyes New Frontiers

    Juan Alcacer, Raffaella Sadun, Olivia Hull and Kerry Herman

    In October 2015, Google restructured into Alphabet, a holding company, which analysts said would facilitate innovation among its diverse subsidiaries. But when news reports surfaced revealing struggles within Alphabet companies including Nest, the smart thermostat maker, observers began to wonder if the reorganization made sense after all.

    Keywords: innovation; conglomerates; corporate restructuring; google; Corporate Strategy; Corporate Entrepreneurship; Innovation Strategy; Business and Stakeholder Relations; Research and Development; Diversification; Financial Reporting; Talent and Talent Management; Technology Industry; Computer Industry; California; United States;


    Alcacer, Juan, Raffaella Sadun, Olivia Hull, and Kerry Herman. "Alphabet Eyes New Frontiers." Harvard Business School Case 717-418, July 2016. (Revised August 2016.) View Details
  4. Blue D Pharmaceuticals

    Kevin Schulman, Emma Rasiel and Suresh Balu

    Susan Durham has just been hired as the Chief Financial Officer of Blue Devil Pharmaceuticals (BDP). Her charge is to understand the optimal pathway for the development of a novel molecule, BDP-1, to understand the cost of drug development, the market opportunity, and the optimal financing strategy for the development of this technology. The case includes a unique simulation model that examines key unknowns in making this assessment including the volatility in the financial markets, volatility in in-licensing markets. Financial strategies include: go-alone, partner with a pharmaceutical company, receive financing from a private equity firm, or there is an option to sell the molecule. Students can see how uncertainty in the development and financing strategy can impact the value of the firm to shareholders.

    Keywords: finance; entrepreneurship; Finance; Entrepreneurship;


    Schulman, Kevin, Emma Rasiel, and Suresh Balu. "Blue D Pharmaceuticals." Harvard Business School Case 317-014, July 2016. View Details
  5. Taxation, Corruption, and Growth

    Philippe Aghion, Ufuk Akcigit, Julia Cagé and William R. Kerr

    We build an endogenous growth model to analyze the relationships between taxation, corruption, and economic growth. Entrepreneurs lie at the center of the model and face disincentive effects from taxation but acquire positive benefits from public infrastructure. Political corruption governs the efficiency with which tax revenues are translated into infrastructure. The model predicts an inverted-U relationship between taxation and growth, with corruption reducing the optimal taxation level. We find evidence consistent with these predictions and the entrepreneurial channel using data from the Longitudinal Business Database of the US Census Bureau. The marginal effect of taxation for growth for a state at the 10th or 25th percentile of corruption is significantly positive; on the other hand, the marginal effects of taxation for growth for a state at the 90th percentile of corruption are much lower across the board. We make progress towards causality through Granger-style tests and by considering periphery counties where effective tax policy is largely driven by bordering states. Finally, we calibrate our model and find that the calibrated taxation rate of 37% is fairly close to the model's estimated welfare maximizing taxation rate of 42%. Reducing corruption provides the largest potential impact for welfare gain through its impact on the uses of tax revenues.

    Keywords: Endogenous Growth; taxation; public goods; corruption; entrepreneurship; Crime and Corruption; Entrepreneurship; Taxation; Economic Growth;


    Aghion, Philippe, Ufuk Akcigit, Julia Cagé, and William R. Kerr. "Taxation, Corruption, and Growth." Special Issue on The Economics of Entrepreneurship. European Economic Review 86 (July 2016): 24–51. View Details
  6. Stick to the Strategy or Make the Sale?: A Manufacturer of High-tech Streetlights Considers an Exception to Its New Subscription Model

    Mitchell Weiss

    A manufacturer of high-tech streetlights considers an exception to its new subscription model. A fictionalized case study based on the HBS Case 816-005, "Bigbelly," by Mitchell Weiss and Christine Snively. This case is an example of public entrepreneurship.

    Keywords: public entrepreneurship; smart cities; anything as a service; Xaas; Bigbelly; Entrepreneurship;


    Weiss, Mitchell. "Stick to the Strategy or Make the Sale? A Manufacturer of High-tech Streetlights Considers an Exception to Its New Subscription Model." Harvard Business Review 94, nos. 7-8 (July–August 2016): 119–121. (Published online as “Case Study: Should You Adjust Your Business Model for a Major Customer?") View Details
  7. Immigrant Entrepreneurship

    Sari Pekkala Kerr and William R. Kerr

    We examine immigrant entrepreneurship and the survival and growth of immigrant-founded businesses over time relative to native-founded companies. Our work quantifies immigrant contributions to new firm creation in a wide variety of fields using multiple definitions. While significant research effort has gone into understanding the economic impact of immigration into the United States, comprehensive data for quantifying immigrant entrepreneurship are difficult to assemble. We combine several restricted-access U.S. Census Bureau data sets to create a unique longitudinal data platform that covers 1992–2008 and many states. We describe differences in the types of businesses initially formed by immigrants and their medium-term growth patterns. We also consider the relationship of these outcomes to the immigrants' age at arrival to the United States.

    Keywords: Immigrants; entrepreneurs; entrepreneurship; immigration; entry; firms; Growth; venture capital; high-tech marketing; Venture Capital; Entrepreneurship; Immigration; United States;


    Pekkala Kerr, Sari, and William R. Kerr. "Immigrant Entrepreneurship." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 17-011, July 2016. (NBER Working Paper Series, No. 22385, July 2016.) View Details
  8. The Cheese and the Oligarchs: The Politics, the Media, and Israel's Dream of a Start-Up Nation

    Rafael Di Tella and Christine Snively

    Israel enjoyed the highest concentration of technology start-ups in the world per capita. Despite regional instability, the country maintained strong economic growth and was considered a high-tech powerhouse. But not all Israelis benefited. Between the 1980s and 2010s, income distribution had widened. By 2015, 20 business groups -- nearly all family-owned -- controlled one in four listed companies through corporate pyramids. Public anger over the high cost of living, which many believed was due to a lack of competition, led to a series of protests. Some academics and members of the Knesset (Parliament) called for reforms to limit the activities of corporate pyramids.

    Keywords: Entrepreneurship; Technology; Business Conglomerates; Business Startups; Israel;


    Di Tella, Rafael, and Christine Snively. "The Cheese and the Oligarchs: The Politics, the Media, and Israel's Dream of a Start-Up Nation." Harvard Business School Case 716-060, June 2016. View Details
  9. Immigrant Entrepreneurs and the Social Safety Net

    Gareth Olds

    This paper explores the role of public health insurance in small business ownership among immigrants, a group with high rates of entrepreneurship. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 created a five-year “waiting period” for legal immigrants to receive federal benefits. However, when the State Child Health Insurance Program was passed in the following year, 15 states chose to insure newly arrived immigrant children with local funds. Using a triple-difference identification strategy, I show that these policies made families with foreign-born members 21% less likely to have uninsured children compared to the pre-policy baseline. These households were also 20% more likely to be self-employed and 28% more likely to own an incorporated business. The increase operates mainly through increases in firm birth rates but survival rates are also higher. The increase in firm ownership comes mostly from families whose children were already insured, suggesting public health insurance increases business ownership by reducing the risks of losing coverage.

    Keywords: Insurance; Entrepreneurship; Welfare or Wellbeing; Immigration;


    Olds, Gareth. "Immigrant Entrepreneurs and the Social Safety Net." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 16-142, June 2016. View Details
  10. Entrepreneurs and the Co-Creation of Ecotourism in Costa Rica

    Geoffrey Jones and Andrew Spadafora

    Between the 1970s and the 2000s, Costa Rica became established as the world’s leading ecotourism destination. This working paper suggests that although Costa Rica benefited from biodiversity and a pleasant climate, the country’s preeminence in ecotourism requires more than a natural resource endowment explanation. The paper argues that the ecotourism industry was a co-creation of the public, private, and tertiary sectors. While the role of the government and conservation NGOs is acknowledged in the existing literature, this study draws attention to the critical role of small entrepreneurs. Making extensive use of oral history, this working paper demonstrates the role of tour companies in drawing affluent Western ecotourists to the country, as well as profiling the creators of ecolodges and other forms of accommodation in providing them with a place to stay. These entrepreneurs, many of them expatriate Americans, helped ensure that formally protected areas remained sustainable parks and reserves by providing revenues, conservation education to tourists, and community development and jobs. Clustering created positive externalities for new entrepreneurs to enter the industry who could also learn from knowledge spillovers. There were downsides to the new industry, however. The creation of the national image of a natural paradise enabled many businesses that were not environmentally sustainable to free-ride on the green image. Even values-driven ecotourism entrepreneurs faced questions about their impact as they expanded the scale of their operations. While scaling was a sign of success and delivered many benefits to Costa Rica, there were distinct drawbacks from a sustainability perspective.

    Keywords: tourism; Latin America; business history; sustainable strategy; sustainability; nonprofit; entrepreneurs; environment; Entrepreneurship; History; Tourism Industry; Costa Rica;


    Jones, Geoffrey, and Andrew Spadafora. "Entrepreneurs and the Co-Creation of Ecotourism in Costa Rica." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 16-136, June 2016. View Details
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