Josh Lerner graduated from Yale College with a special divisional major. He worked for several years on issues concerning technological innovation and public policy at the Brookings Institution, for a public-private task force in Chicago, and on Capitol Hill. He then earned a Ph.D. from Harvard's Economics Department.
Much of his research focuses on venture capital and private equity organizations. (This research is collected in four books, The Venture Capital Cycle, The Money of Invention, Boulevard of Broken Dreams, and Patient Capital.) He also examines policies on innovation and how they impact firm strategies. (That research is discussed in the books Innovation and Its Discontents, The Comingled Code, and The Architecture of Innovation.) He co-directs the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Program and serves as co-editor of their publication, Innovation Policy and the Economy. He founded and runs the Private Capital Research Institute, a nonprofit devoted to encouraging access to data and research, and has been a frequent leader of and participant in the World Economic Forum projects and events.
In the 1993-1994 academic year, he introduced an elective course for second-year MBAs. Over the past two decades, “Venture Capital and Private Equity” has consistently been one of the largest elective courses at Harvard Business School. (The course materials are collected in Venture Capital and Private Equity: A Casebook, now in its fifth edition, and the textbook Venture Capital, Private Equity, and the Financing of Entrepreneurship.) He also established and teaches doctoral courses on entrepreneurship, teaches in the Owners-Presidents-Managers Program, and leads executive courses on private equity.
Among other recognitions, he is the winner of the Swedish government’s Global Entrepreneurship Research Award and Cheng Siwei Award for Venture Capital Research.