Business of Emerging Markets

Valeria Giacomin

Valeria Giacomin

Job Title

Harvard-Newcomen Fellow in Business History 2017-2018
The Business History Initiative provides a challenging but collegial environment, with a multidisciplinary approach that has greatly expanded my perspective for future research projects.

My time as a Newcomen Fellow has greatly strengthened my scholarship, exposing me to new research topics and facilitating networks with scholars around the world. I met experts in my region of interest— Southeast Asia—who have helped refine and advance my doctoral research concerning the evolution of the palm oil cluster in Malaysia and Indonesia and its global implications for corporations, governments, and individual actors, especially in emerging economies. I’ve also reframed key ideas and theoretical contributions underlying my dissertation work. As a result, I finalized two papers from my doctoral thesis for publication, and shared my findings on Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge website with a more general audience, which has generated interest for future collaboration with colleagues.

In addition, I’ve embarked on new research agendas related especially to emerging economies, including issues of corporate reputation and responsibility in business. Right now I’m working on business involvement in education CSR initiatives, using the unique dataset from the Business History Initiative’s Creating Emerging Markets oral history project. The project now has more than 100 interviews with top business leaders from emerging markets available for download. I have also accessed the plentiful resources of Baker Library as well as the larger Harvard ecosystem, including new archival material on female entrepreneurship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

The Business History Initiative provides a challenging but collegial environment, with a multidisciplinary approach that has greatly expanded my perspective for future research projects. It’s also been a true revelation to see firsthand how case method teaching can be transformational in the classroom. During my fellowship year, I audited and participated in the preparation of two history-based courses—it was extraordinary to see how these classes sparked the imagination of MBA students while guiding them through ethical dilemmas. Now, more than ever, I believe business history provides future leaders with an understanding of strategic patterns and decision-making tools that can make a real difference in final outcomes and the role business plays in society.