Social Enterprise Courses at Harvard Business School

Social Enterprise Electives at Harvard Business School

Business and the Environment


Business strategies and operations are increasingly influenced by concerns about the natural environment expressed by customers, shareholders, employees, and regulators. In this course, we examine how managers identify opportunities and manage business risks at the interface of business and the environment. Among other topics, we study managerial approaches to differentiate products along environmental lines, reformulate operations and supply chains to reduce their environmental impact, create and participate in market mechanisms to reduce pollution, and measure progress toward becoming environmentally sustainable. Several classes will focus on business opportunities and risks associated with global climate change.

Business at the Base of the Pyramid


The course seeks to provide an understanding of how business approaches can address low income segments, often the largest components of emerging markets (both in terms of population as well as total expenditure) but nevertheless severely underserved. The course material explores the factors behind the commercial viability of such markets and examines the impact of business models on the social and economic development of the societies involved, i.e. the creation of financial returns and the generation or destruction of social value. It views low-income populations as both consumers of goods and services (from healthcare, water and financial products to toiletries and electronics) and as economic agents in value chains (such as in agriculture and the dairy industry). The course is composed of three major modules: Basic Needs; Business Inputs (employment, technology, finance); and Consumption, Products & Services. The cases cover Africa, Asia and Latin America as well as US-based global initiatives. The Fall format of the course is 29 sessions with a final exam.

Commerce and Society: The Strategic Value of Corporate Social Responsibility


This course explores what businesses must do to transform themselves into effective global citizens and examines ways in which strategic corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices can be associated with bottom-line benefits. Students will be exposed to an array of challenges that corporations face on a daily basis including environmental choices, questions of human rights, problems of operating in diverse and foreign cultures, labor issues, and public health dilemmas. Customers are a central engine pulling socially responsible business, so one focus of the course is examining social marketing tools for motivating customers to change their behavior and to care about the social and environmental attributes of the products they consume. The course also addresses how corporations can use social initiatives to attract, motivate and retain high performance employees. Finally, as corporations move into what are often uncharted waters, how can they best organize themselves internally and externally to be effective and responsible global citizens? What internal processes need to be initiated and developed for them to become effective? And how can businesses improve their social and business performance by applying performance management tools to an expanded conception of economic and social value creation?

Leading and Governing High Performing Nonprofit Organizations


A large number of HBS graduates will engage in the nonprofit sector during their lifetimes. Leading and Governing High Performing Nonprofit Organizations (LGN) is designed to help students become highly effective nonprofit professional managers and/or board members. This course will offer an in-depth exploration of how to create, build and sustain high performing nonprofit organizations. Many for-profit leadership and management skills can be successfully adapted to nonprofit organizations; however, because the differences between the sectors are often greater than their similarities, the process can be daunting. Moreover, many for-profit concepts and frameworks do not transfer; therefore, new approaches must be developed for the complex nonprofit operating environment. LGN will identify, analyze and integrate the concepts and frameworks that nonprofit organizations need for outstanding performance . The Fall format of the course is 29 cases with a final exam.

Acting in Time: Leadership and Management in the Face of Large-Scale Risks


This is a leadership capstone course designed for anyone who, over the course of his or her career, will lead an organization that faces large-scale risks – like earthquakes, storms, terror incidents, and product liability or other brand reputation crises – as a supplier, as a responder, or as a potential or actual victim (and, hopefully, as a survivor). This course examines the leadership and strategy issues faced by leaders in various kinds of situations, circumstances, and roles. It will cover principles and concepts of emergency management; will examine best organizational processes and practices; and will go beyond looking “into the moment” of crisis, taking a much broader risk management perspective to include prevention and preparation before an event takes place and recovery after an event in addition to actions taken during an event. The course will examine leadership in the face of risk in governmental and nonprofit response organizations as well as in private sector firms.

Building Green Businesses (Field Study Seminar)


Building Green Businesses is a field study seminar in which students formulate business plans for enterprises that will serve customers’ needs while protecting or enhancing the natural environment. Working with mentors from the clean tech, renewable energy, and related industries, along with a team of professors from Entrepreneurial Management, BGIE, Finance, Strategy, and TOM, teams of students will create credible, realistic plans around business ideas of their own selection.

Entrepreneurship in Education Reform


Entrepreneurship in Education Reform (EER) is an elective course for second year MBA students and cross-registrants who are interested in creating, leading, or supporting education enterprises with the purpose of driving higher levels of academic achievement for all K-12 students in the United States. The course architecture is driven by the following questions: 1.Why is there an entrepreneurial opportunity in a sector that is publicly funded and historically has been publicly delivered? 2. In what specific areas of the sector are opportunities arising and why? 3. What possibilities and constraints are faced by entrepreneurs across all the opportunity areas? 4. How might we evaluate the effectiveness of the entrepreneurial approaches at work in the sector? EER challenges students to consider these questions by examining the complexities of the existing education system, the strategies of entrepreneurial organizations that are attempting to address root causes of the performance problems in urban education, and the entrepreneurial behavior of leaders and managers trying to affect systemic change in both traditional and new types of public schools.

Managing Global Health: Design, Delivery, and Evaluation


This course aims to train prospective managers and entrepreneurs in meeting three of the largest managerial challenges in global development: program design for behavior change; effective delivery; and rigorous impact evaluation. The course draws heavily from behavioral economics and social marketing, and asks how market mechanisms such as prices and incentives can be adapted to create great impact. Most of the applications will be in health, but the course principles are relevant for those desiring to work in microfinance, agriculture, education and other social services delivery. The course will use case studies and papers, with significant guest lecturers from the practitioner and academic communities to highlight the complexities involved at the intersection of research and practice in global health and development.

Field Study Seminar: Affordable Housing in the United States


This course provides students with the opportunity to learn about the tools of affordable housing finance and production in the United States. For each class, practitioners from the field will join students to present real-world cases and lead discussions about the interaction among businesses, non-profit organizations, and government to provide affordable housing. Students will also have the opportunity to explore and discuss new formulations of affordable housing policy and production in the United States. In the final class (classes?) student teams will present their project findings.

Authentic Leadership Development


The purpose of Authentic Leadership Development (ALD) is to enable students to develop themselves as leaders of organizations and to embark on paths of personal leadership development. ALD requires personal curiosity and reflection from students and personal openness and sharing in class discussions, leadership discussion groups, and one-on-sessions with peer mentors and the professor. Leadership development concepts used in the course will be immediately applicable for students and useful for the rest of their lives.

Commercializing Science


This course has evolved over four years to be unique among HBS electives as students are selected from Harvard’s schools of business, medicine, science, engineering, law, public health, government, and teaching hospitals. The focus is on inventing breakthroughs, working with other professions such as science, medicine, and law, and moving research from the lab to the market place. A center piece of the course is a multi-disciplinary team project to create the plan for commercializing research from a university or private sector lab. Final presentations of the projects will be attended by Harvard faculty, alums and local venture capitalists. Students will be encouraged to develop the best projects for new venture creation and entry into the HBS business plan contest in April.

The Energy Business and Geopolitics


The course will benefit students who intend to participate, as managers, capital providers, or consultants, in companies involved in supplying energy services to households, firms, and other customers. It will also benefit students who may work for firms in energy-intensive or energy-related industries, including transportation companies, vehicle manufacturers, and suppliers to producers of oil, gas, and electricity. More broadly, students interested in questions of international political economy and in the economics of strategic competition will benefit from the course.

Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital in Healthcare


The course is intended primarily for students who have a career interest in either leading or investing in healthcare ventures (biotechnology, medical devices, and healthcare services) . It will also be of interest to students who plan to work in Business Development functions either in or outside the health care sector.

Field Study Seminar: Food, Agriculture and Society

6950 (half-course: 1905)

The food industry has always had a special role in society. In many countries it is still the leading source of employment and a focus of government intervention. In the United States and Europe, questions of farm subsidies and food safety regulations preoccupy governments, especially during elections. Food is a highly emotive topic for many consumers, ranging from fear of starvation at one end, to a desire for organic and/or locally grown and/or sustainable foods at the other. The course will provide a survey of the management problems of farmers, processors, branded consumer goods manufacturers and food retailers, as well as consumer trends, technological advances, and public policy issues. The pervasiveness of the food industry makes the course suitable for future consultants and investment bankers. In addition to those who have a direct interest in the industry; it may also be of interest as a general management course due to its integrative, cross-functional approach and emphasis on strategy.

Field Study Seminar in Healthcare Technology Entrepreneurship: A Hands-on Experience


This field study seminar is designed for students who are interested in healthcare technology entrepreneurship, but do not have their own idea for a business. Students will work in small teams to evaluate technologies identified by the Harvard Office of Technology Development and to make recommendations as to whether the project can be commercialized. In addition, alumni from Still River Funds will provide guidance on the project and may establish a “search fund” to further the development of the project should you decide, and the other stakeholders agree, that the technology in question has sufficient merit to warrant building a company. This seminar will be especially helpful to students who are interested in entrepreneurship, venture capital, and early stage technologies. In addition, it is possible to use this project to enter the HBS Business Plan Competition. Some students who have participated in previous years have gone on to run the organizations they investigated.

Institutions, Macroeconomics, and the Global Economy


This is a course about exploiting the opportunities created by the emergence of a global economy and managing the risks that globalization entails. All managers now face a business environment where international and macroeconomic phenomena matter. Understanding the genesis of financial and currency crises, stock market booms and busts, and social and labor unrest is a crucial aspect in taking informed managerial decisions. Adverse macroeconomic phenomena can have a catastrophic impact on firm performance: witness the strong companies destroyed by the Mexican tequila crisis. Yet at the same time, such episodes also create business opportunities – and not just for the hedge funds and speculators that profit from them. Managers that have and use a coherent framework for analyzing these phenomena will enjoy a competitive advantage.

Managing Medicine


The course is aimed primarily at those students who are contemplating a career in the healthcare industry. It will be equally valuable for students planning a career with organizations that supply innovations to the delivery sector, such as device and pharmaceutical companies, and those interested in managing healthcare delivery. Those planning to work for organizations that serve these two constituencies, such as consultants and healthcare venture capitalists will also be helped by the course. Because we focus on innovation and change, the course will help healthcare entrepreneurs understand how to execute their ideas. Although the course uses material primarily drawn from the U.S. healthcare sector, it addresses issues relevant to all healthcare systems.

Microeconomics of Competitiveness: Firms, Clusters and Economic Development


This course is concerned with the determinants of competitiveness and economic development viewed from a bottom up, microeconomic perspective. While sound macroeconomic policies, stable legal and political systems, and the accumulation of factors of production affect the potential for competitiveness, wealth is actually created at the microeconomic level. The strategies of firms, the vitality of clusters, and quality of the business environment in which competition takes place are what ultimately determines a nation or region’s productivity. This course covers both developing and advanced economies, and addresses competitiveness at the level of nations, states or cities within nations, clusters, and groups of neighboring countries. A major theme of the course is that competitiveness and economic development is affected by policies at all these levels. The course is concerned with government policy but also with the roles of business, universities, and other institutions in competitiveness. In modern international competition, the roles of the constituencies have shifted and expanded, and the traditional separation between them works against successful economic development. Also, the ability to mount and sustain a competitiveness strategy for a nation or region is a daunting challenge. The course will explore not only theory and policy, but also the nature of the organizational structure and institutions for sustained improvements in competitiveness.

The Moral Leader


The successful leader at any level and in any arena will be presented with moral and ethical choices. This unique course is designed to encourage students to confront those fundamental moral challenges, to develop skills in moral analysis and judgment, and to come to terms with their own definition of moral leadership and how it can be translated into action. Drawing on the inspiration of major literary and historical figures such as Machiavelli, Truman, and Achebe, and based upon an impressive array of literary sources, including novels, plays, history, and biography, the seminar-style setting of the course requires students to be thoroughly prepared for each session, willing to participate in rigorous analysis, continual dialogue, and intensive discussion.

Real Estate in Emerging Markets


For students seeking a career in developing, or investing in real estate in emerging markets domestically and/or internationally. The course is for those students who are aware of the potential and the opportunity for investment returns in markets that are often perceived as too risky and/or too poor to generate either short-term or long-term profits.