Research

For the past two decades, my work has focused almost exclusively on entrepreneurship in emerging markets, long before they were the fashion du jour. This work has also resulted in two books. The Harvard Business School publications page gives a listing of key publications and ongoing research.

Healthcare delivery and innovation in the developing world is one of the areas I am quite engaged with these days. Narayana Hospitals in Bangalore (and elsewhere, now that the hospital system is expanding rapidly) is a key site for this research.

Started by Dr Devi Shetty and his colleagues as a cardiac-focussed healthcare service, Narayana Hospitals has managed to achieve a cost point of $1800 for a complex bypass surgery, profitably and with world-class quality. A similar surgery could cost something like $100,000 in the US. Behind this achievement is a complex mesh of innovations – some radical, and others incremental. This multimedia case study looks at some of them.

The hospital system is now expanding very rapidly, and so is the spectrum of innovations. Part two of the multimedia case study covers some of them. Part two also touches upon the upcoming hi-tech hospital in Cayman Islands that is rapidly gaining attention around here.

Providing high quality as well as affordable healthcare is a known global challenge. I feel many of the solutions will emerge from experiments in the developing world. Janacare is an example of another such experiment. Supporting such ventures provides a strong reality check for my academic work.

Of course I’m interested in entrepreneurship outside healthcare as well. My recent academic work has been carried out with my recent students, now professors more eminent than me (!), and with current students. For example, I worked with Catherine Thomas at the London School of Economics on why stock markets in developing countries often don’t tell us much about the value of underlying assets, with Raj Chowdhury at Wharton School on intellectual property issues and the reform of state owned enterprises in India, with Juan Ma on the structure of the structure of corporate boards in China, etcetera.

A lot of my work is comparative. I find the foil of comparing China and India very useful, for example, something I began to explore almost a decade ago when I first conceived of Billions of Entrepreneurs.

Ultimately I’m interested in strengthening the foundations upon which creative individuals can spur economic and social development in emerging markets worldwide.

Here are some pictures. One of them is of an ultra low cost hospital that Narayana Hospitals is building in partnership with L&T, a leading construction and engineering firm, at Mysore. I am with Dr Julius Punnen, one of Dr Shetty’s key colleague, at the site. The other picture has Dr Shetty, Dr Paul Farmer, Professor Arthur Kleinman and me discussing on the sidelines of an SAI symposium called ‘Health in South Asia: Lessons for and from the world‘.