Not available in 2016/17
MG437      Half Unit
Business Model Innovation at the Base of the Pyramid (H)

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor Harry Barkema NAB4.24


This course is available on the CEMS Exchange, IMEX Exchange, MSc in Management, MSc in Management (CEMS MIM), MSc in Management (MiM Exchange), MSc in Management, Organisations and Governance, MSc in Public Management and Governance and MiM Exchange. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


Students are required to submit a 500-word statement explaining their motivation to take MG437, and a CV detailing their education or experience related to countries in poverty. Often the student will have worked in these countries with NGOs, social enterprises or charities; or studied courses related to development poverty or organizational models. The statement and CV should be submitted via the application system on LSE for You.

Course content

This course is about organisations serving social goals, in particular for the 4 billion people living in (extreme) poverty. It’s about designing, implementing, managing and scaling innovative social enterprises, NGOs, government organisations – and ecosystems of them – addressing social issues such as job creation, income, health, education, and the intended and unintended transformations these organisations imply for clients, families, and communities. 

We will discuss what poverty is and what its causes are, and then how social enterprises and other social businesses, NGOs, and government programs influence these causes, and why, and under which conditions. Insights from novel research are presented on how organisations interact with their social environment, and why, combining insights from management (incl. organisational behaviour, social networks and leadership), development and anthropology.

Half of the course consists of theory-based critical discussions, often of innovative examples of social enterprises or NGOs and their social impact, in class and within our Facebook community, which includes hundreds of alumni of this course. In the other half of the course student groups carry out a consulting project with one of our ecosystem partners, ranging from innovative start-ups (social enterprises or NGOs) to global companies such as IBM. Many students also design their own innovative social enterprise, NGO or charity, and have gone on to compete in – and win -- global competitions, and/or start up in Africa, South Asia, and South America.


18 hours of lectures and 12 hours of seminars in the MT.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

One 800-word essay. Students choose one example of an innovative social enterprise, NGO government program or charity. Use theory underlying and developed in this course, and gathered by yourself, to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the model in relation to intended or unintended social implications.

Indicative reading

Morduch, J., 1999,The Microfinance Promise, Journal of Economic Literature, 37, (4), 1569-1614 (Jstor)

Banerjee, A., Duflo, Esther, Glennerster, R., Kinnan, C., 2009,The miracle of microfinance? Evidence from Randomized Evaluation.

Karamchandani, A., M. Kubzansky, P., Frandano, 2009,Emerging Markets, Emerging Models. Please download from

Prahalad, C.K. , 2006. The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Eradicating Poverty through Profits. New Jersey: Wharton School Publishing. (Chapter 1)

Karnani, A., 2007. The Mirage of Marketing to the Bottom of the Pyramid: How the Private Sector Can Help Alleviate Poverty. California Management Review 49 (4), 90-111

Dolan, C. and M.J. Johnstone-Louis, 2011, Re-visiting Corporate Responsibility: The Making of South Africa’s Avon Entrepreneurs, Fiscaal: European Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology, 60 (Summer) 21-33.

Shakya, Y, K. Rankin, 2008, The Politics of Subversion in Development Practice: An Exploration of Microfinance in Nepal and Vietnam, Journal of Development Studies, 44: 1214-1235.

Simanis, Erik ; Stuart Hart,The Base of the Pyramid Protocol: 2nd Edition

Johnson, Christensen; Kagerman, 2008, Reinventing your Business Model, Harvard Business Review, December issue.


Essay (45%, 1500 words) and project (45%, 3000 words).
Class participation (10%) in the MT.

Key facts

Department: Management

Total students 2015/16: 24

Average class size 2015/16: 23

Controlled access 2015/16: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills