Public entrepreneurship is an alternative, inventive approach for leading change in public realms. This course is designed for future private entrepreneurs and public leaders who want to build new ventures operating in or selling into traditionally public domains.
The last few years have seen a wave of new public entrepreneurs start companies that sell to government or directly to citizens and growing interest in these companies by venture funds and other investors.
Collaborating with them are Chief Innovation Officers, Chief Data Officers, CIO's, CTO's, Chiefs of Staff, elected officials and other public leaders transforming government.
And supporting these public entrepreneurs are the ecosystem partners making impact investments in this space, training technologists to work in it, and providing accelerator and incubator opportunities for startup-efforts.
The course helps students evaluate and prepare for careers as public entrepreneurs across all three sectors.
Public entrepreneurs build something from nothing with resources - be they technologies or financial capital or human talent or new rules - they don't command. Public entrepreneurs lead private companies or government. In both cases, they borrow from the skills, strategies, and cultures of private entrepreneurship, and adapt those best practices into contexts with high levels of public engagement and scrutiny, unique political opportunities and risks, and diverse and often entrenched stakeholders.
The course looks at these special contexts and encourages students to see them as potential obstacles, but when addressed creatively, as potential drivers of value and progress as well. The course encourages students to see the unique problems of public entrepreneurship as opportunities.
Mitch Weiss is a Senior Lecturer at the Harvard Business School. He created and teaches the school's course on Public Entrepreneurship—on public leaders and private entrepreneurs who invent a difference in the world. He also teaches Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development, an experiential, field-based course in the first year of the MBA Program. His research interests in addition include digital transformation, peer production, innovation ecosystems, and relationship-based leadership.
Prior to joining HBS in 2014, Mitch was Chief of Staff and a partner to Boston’s Mayor Thomas Menino. Mitch helped shape New Urban Mechanics, Boston’s municipal innovation strategy, and make it a model for peer-produced government and change. He also championed Boston’s Innovation District as a regional platform for entrepreneurship and growth.