Contemporary Developing Countries: Entrepreneurial Solutions to Intractable Problems (at HBS)

Contemporary Developing Countries: Entrepreneurial Solutions to Intractable Social and Economic Problems

•  To provide a framework through which to think about the salient economic and social problems of the developing world.
•  To view a complex problem through a variety of disciplinary lenses, to appreciate that each lens reveals different facets of the problem, and to recognize that they collectively cause one to consider and re-consider candidate solutions.
• To recognize that candidate solutions do not usually admit of a “quick-fix”, rarely yield to a technological panacea, and are usually context-dependent.
• To work in teams on a candidate entrepreneurial solution, and to demonstrate an appreciation of the tradeoffs involved in embracing that solution.

The course is divided into five modules: an introduction reviewing salient approaches to development and different ways of thinking about problem solving; followed by three thematic modules each led by a leader in their field; and then a concluding module which applies lessons learnt throughout the semester to specific problem contexts. The course will introduce students to cases across the developing world.

Module 1: Introductory Module
The introductory module (Professors Khanna and Balsari) will explore several of the most salient challenges facing emerging market economies, highlighting political, economic and social institutional inadequacies (referred to as ‘institutional voids’ throughout the course). It will also introduce a number of different ways of thinking about problem solving.

Module 2: Thinking like a Scientist
The second module (Professor Gajos) will guide students through the solution design process from the perspective of a scientist, engaging students in the method of entrepreneurial need assessment.

Module 3: Thinking like an Artist
The third module (Professor Sommer) will empower students to think creatively about how arts and the humanities can be used to change cultural norms, promote social cohesion and ultimately improve economic and social development.

Module 4: Thinking like an Urban Planner
The fourth module (Professor Mehrotra) will establish a lens for thinking about responsible entrepreneurship from the perspective of an architect. Key themes to be discussed are: the concept of the kinetic city, cultural preservation and participatory urban planning. We will use case studies on low-income housing to study approaches and challenges for sanitation in dense and rapidly growing urban centers, as well as the citizen-led conservation efforts in the historic core of Mumbai and the public-private partnership for the restoration of the Taj Mahal in order to highlight several key themes in understanding the emerging city and its cultural significance. The last lecture of the module will focus on the Harvard university initiative to map the world’s largest ephemeral mega city –the Kumbh Mela.

Module 5: Applications to different problems and contexts
The final module (Professors Khanna and Balsari) will apply the various lenses discussed throughout the course to unique problem contexts, with a particular focus on health, housing and education challenges in developing countries.

M/W 3:30 PM – 5:00 PM
Classes will be held on Harvard University Cambridge campus in Sever Hall room 113.

Offered jointly with the Business School as 1266, the School of Public Health as GHP 568, the Kennedy School as PED-338, the Law School as HLS 2543 and the Graduate School of Education as A-819.

HBS: Fall; Q1Q2; 3 credits