Harvard Business School supports a number of multi-faculty projects that focus on historical research. The projects are diverse, but all bring together shared interest of faculty to explore the long-term evolution of capitalism, globalization, democracy, and policy. Many projects are done in collaboration with Special Collections at Baker Library.

Creating Emerging Markets

Creating Emerging Markets explores the evolution of business leadership in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. At its core are over 100 interviews conducted by Harvard Business School faculty members with leaders or former leaders of businesses and NGOs. These videotaped interviews with men and women of diverse backgrounds address pivotal moments of transition in their regions. They contain compelling insights on entrepreneurship, innovation, family business, and the globalization of firms and brands. Emphasizing ways that businesses can create value for their societies, the project provides a unique resource for research and teaching. From the beginning it was envisioned as a public good, designed to be available to scholars and educators worldwide. Along with the interviews, the site contains video clips for classroom teaching, and a wealth of relevant resources to allow for further research.

The Medici Project

The Medici project seeks to illuminate contemporary questions about capitalism and globalization with insights gleaned from one of the treasures of Baker Library. The Library’s Special Collections houses one of the largest collections outside of Italy of business papers produced by the Medici family. The collection includes nearly 150 manuscript books containing business records dating from 1376 to 1711. The volumes in this collection shed light on the activities of seven generations of one branch of the Medici family engaged in the manufacture and export of wool, and they remain unique in the annals of business history. Renaissance Medici wool firms present an important early case of commercial globalization that is fundamental to the longer histories of accounting, strategy, international competition, competitive advantage, protectionism and state capitalism, the nature of cross-cultural commercial encounters, and the very long history of emerging markets.

The project includes the publication of a new case on the Medici businesses and a special issue of Business History Review, the creation of a new finding aid to the archival collection, and two academic conferences focused on the early modern origins of capitalism.

The Way to Wealth Project

The Way to Wealth project, directed by Sophus A. Reinert, is a digital history resource based on Kenneth E. Carpenter’s bibliography of Benjamin Franklin’s Way to Wealth. This project develops an array of unique research tools and contextual essays for understanding the influence and impact of Franklin’s seminal essay on work ethic and frugality. The site also features a searchable database of over 1,000 editions of The Way to Wealth.