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Global Entrepreneurship 1: Entrepreneurship Without Borders

Simon JohnsonSimon Johnson

Faculty: Simon Johnson

“MIT Sloan has a very internationally oriented student body. This course is a great avenue to explore the many perspectives and experiences that our students bring with them to the School. And we see great interest, from both students and partner organizations, continuing to strengthen our interactions. Students create solutions, and this course gives them the theory and knowledge in the classroom that make those solutions a productive reality.” – Simon Johnson

From the Bulletin: Examines opportunities and problems for entrepreneurs outside the United States, including in Europe, Latin America, and Asia. Covers the linkages among the business environment, the institutional framework, and new venture creation. Students apply the analytics of finance for startups in emerging markets. In addition to discussing a range of global entrepreneurial situations, student groups pick one particular cluster on which to focus and to understand what further development would entail. Classroom interactions are based primarily on case studies.


Entrepreneurship without Borders is having a rebirth. In the late 1990s, the School realized the importance of having a course that looked at global entrepreneurship. That course, focused on theory and discussion, became Global Entrepreneurship Lab, now the School’s largest Action Learning course with approximately 150 students participating each year. When Professor Simon Johnson proposed reintroducing 15.395 as Global Entrepreneurship I, he had several goals in mind. First, he wanted to bring back the case-based discussions from the original course; and second, he wanted students who were unable to participate in the project portion of G-Lab (now known as G-Lab II) to have exposure to the theories and practice of entrepreneurship on a global level. Finally, he saw this course as a necessary (and required) prerequisite for those students participating in the project-based G-Lab II course.


This course offers an elevated level of classroom discussion and case-based work for all students. Further, it opens up global entrepreneurship to those students who might otherwise not have an opportunity to learn about the topic. For some in MIT Sloan’s programs, an on-site Action Learning experience in another country during January is not feasible—and that’s where Entrepreneurship without Borders comes in. It brings together students who will (and will not) participate in Action Learning projects and exposes them to the same intellectual underpinnings—the course allows every student at MIT Sloan to be a global learner and to share their perspectives, even if they are unable to travel during their time at the School.


Professor Johnson’s research looks at global economic and entrepreneurship issues from a macro (country) and micro (individual entrepreneur) level. This course takes that knowledge and brings it into the classroom, helping students understand entrepreneurial systems from top-down and bottom up perspectives. And as much as it is derived from Johnson’s research, the course also comes from entrepreneurs themselves. For example, students have the opportunity to invite entrepreneurs in their own networks to come and talk to the class about their experiences in multiple regions and economies around the world.

Simon Johnson is the Ronald A. Kurtz (1959) Professor of Entrepreneurship and Professor of Global Economics and Management.