Angle of Insight

Efosa Ojomo, MBA 2015

Efosa Ojomo

Job Title

Research Fellow, Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation
Business history has taught me that context matters.

Prior to entering HBS, I studied computer engineering as an undergraduate. I took a couple of classes about African American history in the United States, but beyond that I did not study history.

My primary reason for coming to HBS was to figure out a way to use business as a tool to promote economic development. While there is some value in studying business in prosperous countries today, the real value comes when we study it at a time when the demographics in the 'now rich' region resembled that of today's poor countries. I decided to take business history courses, specifically Entrepreneurship and Global Capitalism (EGC), because I think that to understand where we are going, we have to consider where we have come from.

EGC gives such a great historical perspective on the United States and other rich countries. It helps contextualize the struggles of the modern day entrepreneur in a poor country and essentially changed the way I think about development and poor countries. One case in particular that has stuck with me is Isaac Merritt Singer. Here is a guy who builds a global empire in the 19th century. Singer did not have the luxury of airline travel, yet he was able to build a global empire that became one of the largest and most successful enterprises of its era. That is innovation.

Business history has taught me that context matters. It’s one thing to see developed countries and all the benefits they enjoy, but another to understand their history and how it can relate to developing economies today.