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. Tanfeeth: Bringing Service Excellence to the GCC

    Lynda M. Applegate and Arnold B. Peinado

    Tanfeeth, a business process outsourcing (BPO) firm in the United Arab Emirates, was founded in July 2011 as a fully owned subsidiary of Emirates NBD, the largest bank in the Gulf Corporation Council. When Tanfeeth was founded, Emirates NBD, along with the leaders of Tanfeeth, decided that Tanfeeth would begin by improving processes at the bank. However, two years after its founding, some Tanfeeth executives felt that the organization needed to take on work from outside clients. They were concerned that if Tanfeeth waited too long, its first-mover advantage and position as market leader would deteriorate. Additionally, if Emirates NBD held back Tanfeeth’s growth ambitions, some of the world-class talent Tanfeeth had been able to attract might leave. What was the best course of action for Emirates NBD and Tanfeeth?

    Keywords: entrepreneurship; Middle East; outsourcing; leadership; Entrepreneurship; Leadership; Middle East;


    Applegate, Lynda M., and Arnold B. Peinado. "Tanfeeth: Bringing Service Excellence to the GCC." Harvard Business School Case 815-129, May 2015. View Details
  2. Entrepreneurial Creativity: The Role of Learning Processes and Work Environment Supports

    Michele Rigolizzo and Teresa M. Amabile

    Keywords: creativity; innovation; entrepreneurship; Creativity; Entrepreneurship; Innovation and Invention;


    Rigolizzo, Michele, and Teresa M. Amabile. "Entrepreneurial Creativity: The Role of Learning Processes and Work Environment Supports." Chap. 4 in The Oxford Handbook of Creativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship, edited by Christina E. Shalley, Michael A. Hitt, and Jing Zhou, 61–78. Oxford University Press, 2015. View Details
  3. Lost in the Clouds: The Impact of Changing Property Rights on Investment in Cloud Computing Ventures

    Josh Lerner and Greg Rafert

    Our analysis seeks to understand the impact of changing allocations of property rights on investment in new firms. We focus on the Cartoon Network, et al. v. Cablevision decision in the U.S., which narrowed the protection enjoyed by content creators (e.g., movie studios) and gave greater rights to downstream technology firms, as well as decisions in France and Germany that took an opposite view. Our findings regarding relative venture capital investment in the U.S. and Europe, across Europe, and between the various judicial circuits of the U.S. suggest that decisions around the allocation of property rights can have economically and statistically significant impacts on investment in innovative enterprises.

    Keywords: Technological Innovation; Venture Capital; Internet; Entrepreneurship; Investment; Copyright;


    Lerner, Josh, and Greg Rafert. "Lost in the Clouds: The Impact of Changing Property Rights on Investment in Cloud Computing Ventures." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 15-082, April 2015. View Details
  4. NXTP Labs: An Innovative Accelerator Model

    Josh Lerner, Maria Fernanda Miguel and Laura Urdapilleta

    Unique accelerator fund in Latin America, facing challenges on how to keep growing, including development of venture capital fund and leveraging of entrepreneur ecosystem.

    Keywords: entrepreneurship; Latin America; accelerator; ecosystem; Entrepreneurship; Venture Capital; Business Startups; Financial Services Industry; Latin America;


    Lerner, Josh, Maria Fernanda Miguel, and Laura Urdapilleta. "NXTP Labs: An Innovative Accelerator Model." Harvard Business School Case 815-110, April 2015. View Details
  5. Strategy Rules: Five Timeless Lessons from Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs

    David B. Yoffie and Michael A. Cusumano

    The authors of the bestselling Competing on Internet Time (a Business Week top 10 book) analyze the strategies, principles, and skills of three of the most successful and influential figures in business—Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs—offering lessons for all managers and entrepreneurs on leadership, strategy, and execution.
    In less than a decade, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Andy Grove founded three companies that would define the world of technology and transform our lives. At their peaks, Microsoft, Apple, and Intel were collectively worth some $1.5 trillion. Strategy Rules examines these three individuals collectively for the first time—their successes and failures, commonalities, and differences—revealing the business strategies and practices they pioneered while building their firms.
    David B. Yoffie and Michael A. Cusumano have studied these three leaders and their companies for more than thirty years, while teaching business strategy, innovation, and entrepreneurship at Harvard and MIT. In this enlightening guide, they show how Gates, Grove, and Jobs approached strategy and execution in remarkably similar ways—yet markedly differently from their erstwhile competitors—keeping their focus on five strategic rules. Strategy Rules brings together the best practices in strategic management and high-tech entrepreneurship from three path-breaking entrepreneurs who emerged as CEOs of huge global companies. Their approaches to formulating strategy and building organizations offer unique insights for start-up executives as well as the heads of modern multinationals.

    Keywords: Management; Strategy; Leadership; Information Technology; Entrepreneurship; Information Technology Industry;


    Yoffie, David B., and Michael A. Cusumano. Strategy Rules: Five Timeless Lessons from Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs. New York: HarperBusiness, 2015. View Details
  6. The Disintermediation of Financial Markets: Direct Investing in Private Equity

    Lily Fang, Victoria Ivashina and Josh Lerner

    We examine twenty years of direct private equity investments by seven large institutions. These direct investments perform better than public market indices, especially buyout investments and those made in the 1990s. Outperformance by the direct investments, however, relative to the corresponding private equity fund benchmarks is limited and concentrated among buyout transactions. Co-investments underperform the corresponding funds with which they co-invest, due to an apparent adverse selection of transactions available to these investors, while solo transactions outperform fund benchmarks. Investors' ability to resolve information problems appears to be an important driver of solo deal outcomes.

    Keywords: financial intermediation; private equity; direct investment; co-investment; Private Equity; Entrepreneurship; Financial Markets;


    Fang, Lily, Victoria Ivashina, and Josh Lerner. "The Disintermediation of Financial Markets: Direct Investing in Private Equity." Journal of Financial Economics 116, no. 1 (April 2015): 160–178. View Details
  7. How to Launch Your Digital Platform: A Playbook for Strategists

    Benjamin G. Edelman

    The ubiquity of Internet access has caused a sharp rise in the number of businesses offering platforms that connect users for communication or commerce. Entrepreneurs are particularly drawn to these platforms because they create significant value and have modest operating costs, and network effects protect their position once established—users rarely leave a vibrant platform. But these businesses also raise significant start-up challenges. Every platform starts out empty. Platforms need to immediately attract not only many users but also multiple types of users. For example, it's not enough that many customers want to book taxis by smartphone. Drivers must also be willing to accept smartphone bookings. Harvard Business School professor Ben Edelman has been studying the dynamics of platform businesses and the strategies for launching them for 10 years. In this article he draws on research on dozens of platform sites and products to offer a framework for building a successful platform business. It involves asking five basic questions: (1) Can I attract a large group of users at once? (2) Can I offer stand-alone value to users? (3) How can I build credibility with customers? (4) How should I charge users? (5) Should my platform be compatible with legacy systems?

    Keywords: platforms; entrepreneurship; launch; mobilization strategy; Two-Sided Platforms; Network Effects; Adoption; Entrepreneurship; Information Technology Industry; Advertising Industry; Media and Broadcasting Industry; Transportation Industry; Financial Services Industry;


    Edelman, Benjamin G. "How to Launch Your Digital Platform: A Playbook for Strategists." Harvard Business Review 93, no. 4 (April 2015): 90–97. View Details
  8. West Coast Chill

    William A. Sahlman, Robert F. White and Stephanie Puzio

    The fall of 2010 marked the 20th year that Mitchell Joseph, a fourth generation beverage executive, serial entrepreneur, and the founder of the Joseph Company (the "Company"), had been working on developing the technology for a self-chilling can. Mitchell was at an impasse and had some important decisions to make. The latest versions of the self-chilling can technology (Phase 2 and 3) were showing encouraging progress, cooling liquid in aluminum cans by approximately 30°F in less than three minutes. He was sure that this product performance would make the can attractive to beverage companies around the world.

    Keywords: entrepreneurial finance; entrepreneurship; finance; Entrepreneurship; Finance; Food and Beverage Industry; United States;


    Sahlman, William A., Robert F. White, and Stephanie Puzio. "West Coast Chill." Harvard Business School Multimedia/Video Case 815-704, March 2015. View Details
  9. Pearson Affordable Learning Fund

    Michael Chu, Vincent Dessain and Kristina Maslauskaite

    An in-house venture capital fund for affordable private schools at the base of the pyramid established by Pearson, the world's largest education company, PALF sought to invest in business models providing superior educational outcomes in emerging markets on a profitable and scalable basis. With Pearson's overall strategy shifting from the developed to the developing world and from a supplier of books to a host of other learning products and services, the company thought PALF's lessons might be applicable to Pearson's core businesses. By 2014, Katelyn Donnelly, the Managing Director of PALF, and her team had made seven investments in Africa and Asia and were close to fully committing the $15 million earmarked for the initiative. In the upcoming meeting of PALF's Investment Committee, Donnelly must present a recommendation: should Pearson allocate more internal money to the fund or should they open it up to third party investors?

    Keywords: impact investment; low cost private schools; investment fund; business at the base of the pyramid; Education; Social Entrepreneurship; Investment; Business Growth and Maturation; Transition; Development Economics; Private Sector; Emerging Markets; Education Industry; United Kingdom; Ghana; India; Philippines; South Africa;


    Chu, Michael, Vincent Dessain, and Kristina Maslauskaite. "Pearson Affordable Learning Fund." Harvard Business School Case 315-109, March 2015. View Details
  10. American Well: The DTC Decision

    Elie Ofek and Natalie Kindred

    In late 2013, telehealth company American Well, which developed a digital platform that allowed patients to conduct online medical consultations with physicians, is considering pursuing a direct-to-consumer (DTC) strategy. Founded in 2006, American Well had, to date, primarily sold its solution to health plans, which then provided online care services to their members using their own brand name. But while American Well attracted some of the largest U.S. health insurers as clients, a surprisingly small number of individual members had actually used the online care service. American Well management believed low consumer awareness—the result of insufficient marketing by health plans, among other factors—was hampering uptake of what should be a highly valuable offering for all stakeholders involved. They wondered if a DTC approach, in which American Well would become a consumer brand and market a telehealth service directly to the public, for example through a mobile app, could drive utilization and catapult the business to the next level. If a DTC offering were given the green light, the company had to come up with a coherent marketing plan to launch it and figure out how to manage potential conflicts with existing clients, who might view the move as competing with their own telehealth efforts. Moreover, the move had to be considered in light of other initiatives the company had recently embarked on, such as marketing its platform to pharmacy chains, targeting large employers, and selling kiosks that provided a physical space to conduct online consultations. The case forces students to grapple with the challenges and barriers involved in disrupting an established industry, examine alternative go-to-market strategies and the timing of implementing them, and consider different business models to manage supply and generate revenues. The case also offers a rich analysis of digital marketing issues.

    Keywords: health care; telehealth; telemedicine; American Well; Schoenberg; Boston; Israel; technology; online care; direct-to-consumer; DTC; health insurance; Affordable care act; health care reform; accountable care organizations; strategy; technology adoption; technology change; innovation & entrepreneurship; marketing; digital marketing; Strategy; Competition; Technology; Marketing; Technological Innovation; Technology Adoption; Entrepreneurship; Marketing Strategy; Health Industry; Technology Industry; Boston; Massachusetts; United States; Israel;


    Ofek, Elie, and Natalie Kindred. "American Well: The DTC Decision." Harvard Business School Case 515-032, March 2015. View Details
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