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. Mattermark

    Jeffrey Bussgang and Annelena Lobb

    Mattermark, a software-as-a-service company that sold software allowing companies to access financial information about privately-held companies and startups, was at a turning point. CEO Danielle Morrill had to allocate investment funding from a Series A round. She needed to build up sales and marketing; she also wanted to invest in her product, which was already popular in the VC market, but was increasingly gaining traction in other markets. Sales and marketing had struggled, meanwhile, after a failed hire of a head of sales from another company. Morrill had to clearly prioritize her financial and strategic decisions.

    Keywords: Entrepreneurship; Software; Business Startups; Marketing; Strategy; Technology Industry; United States;


    Bussgang, Jeffrey, and Annelena Lobb. "Mattermark." Harvard Business School Case 816-073, February 2016. View Details
  2. Transition to Clean Technology

    Daron Acemoglu, Ufuk Akcigit, Douglas Hanley and William R. Kerr

    We develop a microeconomic model of endogenous growth where clean and dirty technologies compete in production and innovation, in the sense that research can be directed to either clean or dirty technologies. If dirty technologies are more advanced to start with, the potential transition to clean technology can be difficult both because clean research must climb several rungs to catch up with dirty technology and because this gap discourages research effort directed towards clean technologies. Carbon taxes and research subsidies may nonetheless encourage production and innovation in clean technologies, though the transition will typically be slow. We characterize certain general properties of the transition path from dirty to clean technology. We then estimate the model using a combination of regression analysis on the relationship between R&D and patents, and simulated method of moments using microdata on employment, production, R&D, firm growth, entry and exit from the US energy sector. The model's quantitative implications match a range of moments not targeted in the estimation quite well. We then characterize the optimal policy path implied by the model and our estimates. Optimal policy makes heavy use of research subsidies as well as carbon taxes. We use the model to evaluate the welfare consequences of a range of alternative policies.

    Keywords: Technological Innovation; Entrepreneurship; Environmental Sustainability; Green Technology Industry;


    Acemoglu, Daron, Ufuk Akcigit, Douglas Hanley, and William R. Kerr. "Transition to Clean Technology." Special Issue on Climate Change and the Economy. Journal of Political Economy 124, no. 2 (February 2016): 52–104. View Details
  3. Savannah Informatics

    Kevin Schulman

    John Muthee and Justus Paul are recent graduates of medical school and a unique program in clinical informatics. They return to Nairobi, Kenya with a passion to make a difference in their community. They have a team they know well, but need to find a project concept for a new company. Eventually, they focus on what they believe to be a significant opportunity—supporting health insurance with an electronic eligibility verification and claim submission. They develop a business concept, but have challenges breaking into the market and attracting investment. They finally land a grant (non-dilutive financing) from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and build their product. Having proven that the technology works, can they scale their solution?

    Keywords: entrepreneurship; Kenya; information systems; Entrepreneurship; Kenya; Africa;


    Schulman, Kevin. "Savannah Informatics." Harvard Business School Case 316-111, January 2016. View Details
  4. Rumie: Bringing Digital Education to the Underserved

    John J-H Kim and Amram Migdal

    In fall of 2015, the Toronto, Canada-based education technology non-profit Rumie had distributed thousands of computer tablets preloaded with collections of thousands of pieces of curated educational content to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in some of the most impoverished countries around the world that lacked basic educational resources. Founder and executive director Tariq Fancy, with his team, were deciding whether to accept a large new order from an NGO in Pakistan that would require Rumie for the first time to provide ongoing services such as teacher training, performance monitoring, and other support. Some on the team felt that providing a full suite of bundled services would detract from their recent push to decouple Rumie's software and services from the physical tablets to achieve greater reach and scale. In October 2015, Rumie opened the LearnCloud, its proprietary online content curation portal for NGOs, to the public. Now anyone could discover, share, and rate free digital educational content from any source. Fancy considered, "Education Access represents a big order and huge growth, but does it lead us into doing things we haven't done before, may not be good at, and may not be scalable to be used by different partners in different geographies?"

    Keywords: education; Edtech; education technology; social enterprise; technological innovation; nonprofit; education startup; Education; Social Entrepreneurship; Technological Innovation; Growth and Development Strategy; Education Industry; Canada; Africa;


    Kim, John J-H, and Amram Migdal. "Rumie: Bringing Digital Education to the Underserved." Harvard Business School Case 316-140, January 2016. View Details
  5. Business Groups, Entrepreneurship and the Growth of the Koç Group in Turkey

    Geoffrey Jones and Asli M. Colpan

    This article examines the emergence and development of what became the largest business group in Turkey, the Koç Group. This venture was an important factor in the emergence of modern business enterprise in the new state of the Republic of Turkey from the 1920s. After World War II it diversified rapidly, forming part of a cluster of business groups, which dominated the Turkish economy alongside state-owned firms. This article examines how the founder of the Koç Group, Vehbi Koç, formulated his business model and analyses how his firm evolved into a diversified business group. Although the case supports prevailing explanations of business groups related to institutional voids, government policy, and the importance of contact capabilities, this study builds on and extends the earlier suggestions that entrepreneurship needs incorporating as an explanatory factor. The article shows that Koç acted as both a Kirznerian and Schumpeterian entrepreneur to build his group, both in its formative stages and later in its subsequent growth into a diversified business group.

    Keywords: Entrepreneurship; Governance; History; Strategy; Auto Industry; Consumer Products Industry; Food and Beverage Industry; Manufacturing Industry; Service Industry; Turkey;


    Jones, Geoffrey, and Asli M. Colpan. "Business Groups, Entrepreneurship and the Growth of the Koç Group in Turkey." Special Issue on Business Groups around the World. Business History 58, no. 1 (2016): 69–88. View Details
  6. The Globalization of Angel Investments: Evidence across Countries

    Josh Lerner, Antoinette Schoar, Stanislav Sokolinski and Karen Wilson

    This paper examines investments made by 13 angel groups across 21 countries. We compare applicants just above and below the funding cutoff and find that these angel investors have a positive impact on the growth, performance, and survival of firms as well as their follow-on fundraising. The positive impact of angel financing is independent of the level of venture activity and entrepreneur friendliness in the country. But we find that the development stage and maturity of startups that apply for angel funding (and those that are ultimately funded) is inversely correlated with the entrepreneurship friendliness of the country, which may reflect self-censoring by very early stage firms that do not expect to receive funding in these environments.

    Keywords: Entrepreneurship; Globalization; Investment;


    Lerner, Josh, Antoinette Schoar, Stanislav Sokolinski, and Karen Wilson. "The Globalization of Angel Investments: Evidence across Countries." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 16-072, December 2015. View Details
  7. Entrepreneurial Imagination and a Demand and Supply-side Perspective on the MNE and Cross-border Organization

    G. Jones and Christos Pitelis

    This article explores the role of entrepreneurial imagination on the international expansion of multinational enterprises. The focus is on supply- and demand-side factors that help explicate cross-border expansion. The article explores how appropriability-informed and legacy-shaped entrepreneurial imagination motivates a process of creation and co-creation of the cross-border business context (such as markets, demand, and supporting infrastructures, including business ecosystems) and, when feasible, the wider institutional, regulatory, and even cultural context that conventional International business literature takes as a datum. This is examined conceptually and by using illustrative business history case examples. The article claims that by focusing on agency, learning, intentionality, and demand-side factors, our approach complements and also challenges extant sometimes static, supply-side, agent-agnostic theories of the multinational and helps appreciate better phenomena such as the creation and co-creation of markets and value, multinationals without firm-specific advantages, and born-global firms.

    Keywords: entrepreneurship; imagination; Globalization; History; Entrepreneurship; Multinational Firms and Management; Africa; Asia; Europe; North and Central America;


    Jones, G., and Christos Pitelis. "Entrepreneurial Imagination and a Demand and Supply-side Perspective on the MNE and Cross-border Organization." Journal of International Management 21, no. 4 (December 2015): 309–321. View Details
  8. Chicken Republic

    Jose Alvarez and Natalie Kindred

    Deji Akinyanju, founder of Nigerian fast-food chain Chicken Republic, and Ayo Oduntan, founder of an integrated Nigerian poultry operation (Amo Byng Group), are among a growing cadre of skilled food-industry entrepreneurs for whom the opportunities to serve the Nigerian market—a population of over 170 million, including a large and growing middle class—outweigh the challenges of operating there. And indeed, as embodied by Nigeria's status as a net food importer despite having 80 million hectares of arable land, the challenges are considerable. Animal feed is excessively expensive, driving up poultry production costs and limiting production volumes; illegal poultry imports pose food safety threats while undercutting prices of domestic product; corruption is rampant; debt is exorbitantly expensive; commercial real estate is sparse; and electricity is unreliable. Yet, Nigeria has all the natural blessings to be an agricultural powerhouse competitive on an international scale. And it has the large, ambitious population needed to drive its development, both as workers and consumers. Akinyanju and Oduntan believe many of the issues constraining Nigeria's poultry sector can be alleviated with relatively simple solutions—and that doing so can open tremendous growth opportunities for their businesses and the country as a whole.
    Set in October 2015, this case provides a detailed look at Nigeria's poultry value chain and the complexities of modernizing a traditional and largely informal industry. It also presents an inspiring story of determined entrepreneurs succeeding against tough odds. Finally, for students whose conception of Nigeria is all too often reduced to simplistic headlines, this case offers a more nuanced look into the complexities, potential, and aspirations of what may be one of this century's most dynamic and important economies.

    Keywords: Nigeria; Africa; poultry; chicken; value chain; supply chain; emerging market; Chicken Republic; Amo Byng; Doreo Partners; Babban Gona; reform; infrastructure; MINT; entrepreneurship; QSR; quick serve restaurant; fast food; corruption; governance; Growth; Leadership; Food; Customer Value and Value Chain; Supply Chain; Infrastructure; Animal-Based Agribusiness; Entrepreneurship; Emerging Markets; Growth and Development; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; Nigeria; Africa;


    Alvarez, Jose, and Natalie Kindred. "Chicken Republic." Harvard Business School Case 516-052, December 2015. View Details
  9. Jibo: A Social Robot for the Home

    Jeffrey J. Bussgang and Christine Snively

    In January 2015, Jibo Inc. had completed a raise of $25.3 million in Series A financing after a successful 2014 crowdfunding campaign for pre-orders of Jibo, the first social robot for the home. Over 4,800 Jibo units were pre-ordered, generating $2.6 million in sales. On one snowy morning in January, CEO Steve Chambers met with co-founder and Chief Scientist Dr. Cynthia Breazeal and newly-hired VP of Consumer & Development Relations Lynda Smith to prepare for their first meeting with the board. The team planned to discuss Jibo's business development strategy, and considered how best to engage with the developer community to expand Jibo's portfolio of capabilities. How could the team best attract third-party developers to create Jibo Skills (apps) for this new platform that would not ship until 2016? Should the team develop a full set of Jibo Skills in-house? The team also hoped to establish partnerships with large content providers. How could they convince potential partners that Jibo was a worthwhile investment?

    Keywords: business development; Entrepreneurship; Software; Hardware; Business Startups; Technology Industry;


    Bussgang, Jeffrey J., and Christine Snively. "Jibo: A Social Robot for the Home." Harvard Business School Case 816-003, December 2015. View Details
  10. Harnessing Productive Tensions in Hybrid Organizations: The Case of Work Integration Social Enterprises

    Julie Battilana, Metin Sengul, Anne-Claire Pache and Jacob Model

    We examine the factors that influence the social performance of hybrid organizations that pursue a social mission, and sustain their operations through commercial activities, by studying work integration social enterprises (WISEs). We argue that social imprinting and economic productivity are both important drivers of WISEs' social performance. However, there is a paradox inherent in the social imprinting of WISEs: although it directly enhances their social performance, it also indirectly weakens it by negatively affecting economic productivity. Results based on panel data of French WISEs between 2003 and 2007 are congruent with our predictions. In order to understand how socially imprinted WISEs may mitigate this negative relationship between social imprinting and economic productivity, we also conduct a comparative analysis of case studies. We find that one effective approach is to assign responsibility for social and economic activities to distinct groups while creating "spaces of negotiation"—areas of interaction that allow members of each group to discuss the trade-offs they face. We conclude by highlighting the conditions under which spaces of negotiation can effectively be used to maintain a productive tension in hybrid organizations.

    Keywords: hybrid organizations; social enterprise; Social Entrepreneurship; Organizations;


    Battilana, Julie, Metin Sengul, Anne-Claire Pache, and Jacob Model. "Harnessing Productive Tensions in Hybrid Organizations: The Case of Work Integration Social Enterprises." Academy of Management Journal 58, no. 6 (December 2015): 1658–1685. View Details
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