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. Coordination Frictions in Venture Capital Syndicates

    Ramana Nanda and Matthew Rhodes-Kropf

    An extensive literature on venture capital has studied asymmetric information and agency problems between investors and entrepreneurs, examining how separating entrepreneurs from the investor can create frictions that might inhibit the funding of good projects. It has largely abstracted away from the fact that a startup typically does not have just one investor, but several VCs that come together in a syndicate to finance a venture. In this chapter, we therefore argue for an expansion of the standard perspective to also include frictions within VC syndicates. Put differently, what are the frictions that arise from the fact that there is not just one investor for each venture, but several investors with different incentives, objectives and cash flow rights, who nevertheless need to collaborate to help make the venture a success? We outline the ways in which these coordination frictions manifest themselves, describe the underlying drivers and document several contractual solutions used by VCs to mitigate their effects. We believe that this broader perspective provides several promising avenues for future research.

    Keywords: venture capital; Syndication; networks; entrepreneurship; Venture Capital; Networks; Entrepreneurship;


    Nanda, Ramana, and Matthew Rhodes-Kropf. "Coordination Frictions in Venture Capital Syndicates." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 17-089, April 2017. View Details
  2. Private Equity and Industry Performance

    Shai Bernstein, Josh Lerner, Morten Sorensen and Per Stromberg

    The growth of the private equity industry has spurred concerns about its potential impact on the economy more generally. This analysis looks across nations and industries to assess the impact of private equity on industry performance. Industries where PE funds have invested in the past five years have grown more quickly in terms of productivity and employment. There are few significant differences between industries with limited and high private equity activity. It is hard to find support for claims that economic activity in industries with private equity backing is more exposed to aggregate shocks. The results using lagged private equity investments suggest that the results are not driven by reverse causality. These patterns are not driven solely by common law nations such as the United Kingdom and United States, but also hold in Continental Europe.

    Keywords: Private Equity; Markets; Entrepreneurship; Performance; Economy;


    Bernstein, Shai, Josh Lerner, Morten Sorensen, and Per Stromberg. "Private Equity and Industry Performance." Management Science 63, no. 4 (April 2017): 1198–1213. View Details
  3. Edwin Land: The Art and Science of Innovation

    Tom Nicholas, Christopher Stanton and Matthew Preble

    Throughout the second half of the 20th century, Polaroid first invented—and then continuously reinvented—the field of instant photography. Under the leadership of its mercurial founder Edwin Land, the company regularly released new instant cameras and films, often without any market research. Land created a culture of innovation and exploration within Polaroid that became conducive to the development of new customer value propositions. However, this proved difficult to sustain over the long run, and the business ultimately went into bankruptcy in 2001. How did Polaroid rise to a position of such preeminence, and was its downfall inevitable?

    Keywords: instant photography; company history; Change Management; Disruption; Forecasting and Prediction; Entrepreneurship; Business History; Innovation Strategy; Disruptive Innovation; Innovation and Management; Intellectual Property; Patents; Product Marketing; Brands and Branding; Product Launch; Product Development; Chemical Industry; Consumer Products Industry; United States;


    Nicholas, Tom, Christopher Stanton, and Matthew Preble. "Edwin Land: The Art and Science of Innovation." Harvard Business School Case 817-107, March 2017. View Details
  4. Catalant: The Future of Work?

    Thomas Eisenmann, Jeffrey F. Rayport and Christine Snively

    Catalant, founded in 2013 as an online marketplace where MBAs could bid on consulting projects posted by small- to medium-sized businesses, had expanded by 2016 to provide Fortune 1000 companies with access to over 35,000 independent experts. The founders envisioned extending their matching solutions to help enterprises staff projects with a mix of current employees and external experts, hypothesizing that the “future of work” would involve more flexible employment arrangements. They debated how much to invest in new functionality versus improving their existing marketplace, and how to pitch their evolving strategic vision to investors.

    Keywords: Entrepreneurship; Human Resources; Recruitment; Labor; Market Platforms; Growth and Development Strategy; Employment Industry; Consulting Industry; United States;


    Eisenmann, Thomas, Jeffrey F. Rayport, and Christine Snively. "Catalant: The Future of Work?" Harvard Business School Case 817-103, March 2017. View Details
  5. CIC: Catalyzing Entrepreneurial Ecosystems (A)

    William R. Kerr, Sari Kerr and Alexis Brownell

    CIC creates "entrepreneurial ecosystems," renting out office and co-working space to start-ups and related companies and providing basic business needs like wi-fi and legal advice. Founder Tim Rowe refers to the CIC as "innovation infrastructure," bringing together money, talent and ideas in one place. Founded in Cambridge in 1999, CIC has since grown to become one of the largest concentrations of entrepreneurial activity in the world and has expanded to multiple locations across the Boston area. Rowe envisions taking this model to cities across the world, and CIC is in fact about to open a new branch in St. Louis, their first location outside greater Boston. He is concerned, though, because one month from opening day, CIC still has a lot of empty space and few clients signed up. Rowe and his team have to consider how to quickly bring in more clients before opening day, and, more broadly, whether the CIC idea will work outside the Boston/Cambridge area.

    Keywords: entrepreneurship; start-ups; Boston; Cambridge; St. Louis; CIC; Cambridge Innovation Center; co-working space; entrepreneurial ecosystems; innovation ecosystems; Entrepreneurship; Business Startups; Business Offices; Innovation and Invention;


    Kerr, William R., Sari Kerr, and Alexis Brownell. "CIC: Catalyzing Entrepreneurial Ecosystems (A)." Harvard Business School Case 817-126, March 2017. View Details
  6. Swagbucks

    Jeffrey F. Rayport and Matthew G. Preble

    In early 2016, Chuck Davis, chairman and CEO of Prodege LLC, parent company of the brand promotion business Swagbucks, and Josef Gorowitz, Prodege’s founder and president, must decide whether to acquire MyPoints, a competitor to Swagbucks, after a significant cultural transformation that the company has just gone through. Over the preceding two years, Davis and Gorowitz had grown Swagbucks from a relatively small venture staffed by people from Gorowitz’s personal and professional networks into a professionally managed and rapidly scaling business. This had been no easy task, because Davis had to be careful not to destabilize Prodege’s strong culture, which was built around the deeply held religious beliefs of the company’s founding employees, many of whom were devout ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jews, as he introduced change. The culture had resulted in some unique challenges for a growing technology company, such as a requirement that the company shutter its office on Jewish holidays and every week for observance of Shabbat. By 2016, the company was thriving both financially and operationally. Considering the opportunity to acquire MyPoints, which was an established competitor with millions of members, Davis and Gorowitz must determine whether the company’s culture is sufficiently robust to integrate another business and its employees.

    Keywords: loyalty management; scaling; Scale; Entrepreneurship; Human Resources; Employees; Employee Relationship Management; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Organizational Culture; Organizational Design; Leading Change; Growth Management; Religion; Technology; Online Technology; Internet; Transition; Leadership; Web Services Industry; Technology Industry; United States;


    Rayport, Jeffrey F., and Matthew G. Preble. "Swagbucks." Harvard Business School Case 817-068, March 2017. View Details
  7. The Right Mix: Angels, Venture Capitalists, and the Assembly of Entrepreneurial Resources

    Benjamin Hallen and Rory McDonald

    New ventures rely on external relationships for capital, knowledge, and networks. We examine how ventures assemble these resources—and whether they are all accessible from the same sources—in relationships with two types of investors: venture capital firms and angels. We argue the entrepreneurial investment landscape creates tensions between acquiring capital versus knowledge and networks, and secondarily between knowledge and networks pertinent to early operational execution versus long-term development. Through simultaneous relationships with both types of investors, we suggest, ventures can efficiently assemble both capital (via venture capitalists) and broad networks (via numerous angels). This inference is supported in a sample of 838 digital ventures. Our results address the nature and assembly of entrepreneurial resources, pinpointing the respective contributions of venture capital and angel investors.

    Keywords: Business Ventures; Venture Capital; Entrepreneurship;


    Hallen, Benjamin, and Rory McDonald. "The Right Mix: Angels, Venture Capitalists, and the Assembly of Entrepreneurial Resources." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 17-082, March 2017. View Details
  8. PharmAccess and the M-TIBA Platform: Leveraging Digital Technology in the Developing World

    Kevin Schulman, Sashidaran Moodley and Anant Vasudevan

    PharmAccess is an Amsterdam based NGO working to support the development of the private health care market in Africa. This work is critical as over 50% of care is delivered through the private sector, but well-intentioned efforts to address global health through the public sector have the unintended consequence of crowding-out capital formation in the private sector. PharmaAccess is working to crowd-in funding instead through the development of a three-pronged effort in Kenya. They are working to address supply through efforts to improve the quality of health care facilities through education and through a micro-lending program. At the same time, they are working to address demand through the development of the M-TIBA mobile health wallet. The critical question for this case is whether these efforts, in essence the development of a novel platform simultaneously addressing supply and demand, will be enough to change the dynamics of the private health care market.
    The case provides a background on private health care in Africa and in Kenya.

    Keywords: Finance; Entrepreneurship; Health Care and Treatment; Online Technology; Health Industry; Africa; Kenya;


    Schulman, Kevin, Sashidaran Moodley, and Anant Vasudevan. "PharmAccess and the M-TIBA Platform: Leveraging Digital Technology in the Developing World." Harvard Business School Case 317-103, March 2017. View Details
  9. Entrepreneurial Beacons: The Yale Endowment, Run-ups, and the Growth of Venture Capital

    Y. Sekou Bermiss, Benjamin J. Hallen, Rory McDonald and Emily Cox Pahnke

    This paper investigates the social context of entrepreneurship in organizational sectors. Prior research suggests that firm foundings are driven by collective patterns of activity—that is, by patterns of prior foundings—including support from related markets as well as institutional activism in a given sector. Building on research of social salience and signals, we consider the influence of singular sector-level triggers, which we call entrepreneurial beacons. We argue that the actions or outcomes of salient organizations attract and motivate entrepreneurs, thus increasing the rate of foundings. To test this logic, we examine the impact of the Yale University endowment's investment choices and of venture-capital-backed IPO run-ups on venture-capital foundings between 1984 and 2011. The results pinpoint the aspects of the social environment that most heavily influence entrepreneurial activity and the dynamics of organizational sectors.

    Keywords: entrepreneurship; organizations; signals; social salience; venture capital; Venture Capital; Higher Education; Organizations; Entrepreneurship; Investment;


    Bermiss, Y. Sekou, Benjamin J. Hallen, Rory McDonald, and Emily Cox Pahnke. "Entrepreneurial Beacons: The Yale Endowment, Run-ups, and the Growth of Venture Capital." Strategic Management Journal 38, no. 3 (March 2017): 545–565. View Details
  10. Hebrew SeniorLife: Disseminating Excellence in Elder Care and Housing

    Regina E. Herzlinger, Carin-Isabel Knoop and Olivia Hull

    The CEO of Hebrew SeniorLife is contemplating how to scale his highly successful but asset-intensive continuing care retirement community for elders. Among the strategies he is considering is an expansion to China; virtual web-based care; providing continuing care in the home setting; and an expansionist model in the U.S. Hebrew SeniorLife is a mission-driven organization that is managed in a financially-prudent way. Those principles must guide his decision.

    Keywords: continuing care; nursing home; rehabilitation; Assisted Living; elder care; entrepreneurial management; entrepreneurship; Health Care and Treatment; Entrepreneurship; Growth and Development Strategy; Health Industry; United States;


    Herzlinger, Regina E., Carin-Isabel Knoop, and Olivia Hull. "Hebrew SeniorLife: Disseminating Excellence in Elder Care and Housing." Harvard Business School Case 317-038, February 2017. View Details
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