Entrepreneurship and Global Capitalism - Harvard Business School MBA Program

Entrepreneurship and Global Capitalism

Course Number 1130

Professor Geoffrey G. Jones
Fall: Q1Q2; 3 credits
28 Sessions
Option of paper or final exam

Career Focus

EGC discusses the history of the modern world through the entrepreneurs who shaped it. It emphasizes the challenging contexts these entrepreneurs faced in their times, the difficult decisions they made, and the legacies they left behind. The course is relevant to all future leaders operating in today’s global context, as it considers the roles of entrepreneurs, CEOs, investors, inventors, philanthropists, and politicians.

Cases follow the lives of some of the most successful entrepreneurs and leaders in history throughout different eras of globalization and deglobalization, across a broad range of contexts and industries from the opium wars to the luxury fashion industry. In addition to character lessons from these entrepreneurs, students will learn to understand how the modern business environment came about, and to think strategically about how value can be derived in volatile circumstances with unpredictable political contexts as well as micro and macro-economic shifts.

Course Content and Organization

EGC challenges students to think of business not in a vacuum, but in a rich context considering competitive landscapes, information asymmetries, conflicting interests, institutional and legal gaps, geopolitics, and cultural differences across countries. The five modules of the course provide a dynamic framework for exploring the challenging decisions entrepreneurs have faced in the different eras of globalization. The roles of business leaders in inflection points, including Nazi Germany, the struggle for Indian independence, apartheid-era South Africa, and conflicts in the Middle East, are examined. The cases, set across centuries, continents and industries, explore how different contexts and regulations have provided incentives for entrepreneurs to develop businesses in either productive or unproductive ways. Cases of stellar business success are accompanied by cases on morally-challenged figures, and conflicting views on the responsibilities of business are debated in widely differing settings. Business leaders emerge as important actors shaping how local economies and the global economy have evolved. A typical class will try to get into the minds of the protagonists, establish the context in which they took decisions, debate the legacy of those decisions, and discuss how the class would have acted in those circumstances.

The five modules of the course are: First Global Economy; Globalization Reversed; Origins of Second Global Economy; Second Global Economy; New Deglobalization.

Course Administration

Course grades will be based on class participation (50%) and a final exam (50%). A paper can be substituted for the final exam. Throughout the semester, Professor Jones will be available to meet with students. To arrange a meeting, please contact Professor Jones directly, preferably by email (gjones@hbs.edu). You can also contact his assistant, Conor Riley (criley@hbs.edu).