Faculty Profile: Mercedes Delgado

November 1, 2011 //

“Mercedes is a core research partner, and has been instrumental in bringing new ideas, methodological rigor, and tenacity to our joint work.”
Michael E. Porter, Bishop William Lawrence University Professor
Harvard Business School

Mercedes Delgado
Assistant Professor, Strategic Management
Hometown: Seville, Spain
Motto: Stay positive.
Latest read: Tim Harford’s Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure
Latest band: Gotan Project
Businessperson she admires: Oprah Winfrey – self-made, great teacher, connects with the public and gives back.
Best way to cope with stress: A good cup of coffee and the gym.

Innovating in the fast lane

Ask Mercedes Delgado about the current pace of innovation, and here’s what she’ll tell you: It is moving faster than ever.

Delgado, an assistant professor of strategic management, focuses her research on entrepreneurship, country competitiveness, and the relationship between industry clusters and the performance of firms, regions and countries.

In the three years since Delgado joined Fox, she has demonstrated the power innovation and collaboration can have in and outside of Alter Hall.

In September 2010, Delgado and a team of Harvard and MIT researchers earned a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to help policymakers more effectively tap into regional innovation clusters that drive economic growth.

Delgado, who describes clusters as “geographic agglomerations of companies, suppliers, service providers and associated institutions in a particular field,” said the EDA grant has allowed the researchers to use state-of-the-art methods to better assess the presence, dynamics and emergence of regional clusters (for example, clean energy). Their main goal is to provide mapping tools for firms, practitioners and fellow researchers to evaluate growth opportunities.

Delgado’s “Clusters and entrepreneurship,” which she co-authored with Harvard University’s Michael E. Porter and MIT Professor Scott Stern, was published last year in the Journal of Economic Geography. But the team has been working on clusters and regional development for years, beginning with Porter’s pioneer work in the 1990s.

“I have been very fortunate to work with and learn from great researchers,” Delgado said. “Collaboration makes it easier to see the bigger picture and produce more impactful research.”

Before joining Fox, Delgado completed post-doctoral fellowships at the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Innovation Policy Group and Harvard Business School’s Institute for Strategy and Competiveness, which Porter directs and where Delgado is a senior associate.

Research also plays a vital role in her Fox curricula and instruction.

“The interplay of research and teaching is crucial. My research helps me develop new course material, including company cases and tools for assessing the business environment in a particular location,” said Delgado, who, just last summer, studied the entrepreneurial capacity of Andalusia, Spain, by interviewing more than 50 organizations.

Since 2009 she has collaborated on a new curriculum development initiative to link strategic management’s undergraduate capstone and Fox’s MBA Enterprise Management Consulting (EMC) Practice, increasing real-world experience for undergraduates. As part of the course enhancement, Delgado co-authored a case study of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program with EMC Managing Director TL Hill.

“Discussing these cases with the students, and the follow-up on the cases offered by the CEOs,” she said, “improve students’ learning experience and motivation to succeed.”

With help from her colleagues, Delgado is designing an MBA-level course on Analytical Foundations of Strategy, which she plans to pilot in Fall 2012.

“This course will offer the analytical tools to facilitate strategic decision-making in a setting of uncertainty,” Delgado said. “The business environment changes fast, and these changes need to be reflected in the curriculum.”