Harvard Business School Case Study

HarvardCustomer Profile

Based at the Harvard Business School, the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness (ISC) is dedicated to the study of competition and its implications. The Institute examines the way that competition affects company strategy, the strength of nations or regions, and solutions to social problems. ISC has been selected by the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to lead the national Cluster Mapping Project, part of EDA’s effort to support a flourishing American private sector comprising vibrant regional economic ecosystems.


The Cluster Mapping Project uses statistical techniques to profile the performance of regional economies across the United States. The project focuses specifically on clusters—geographically proximate groups of companies, universities, and other institutions. Historically, it has been difficult to measure the performance and competitive strength of regional economies. The team at ISC is dedicated to creating the first objective, detailed profiles of regional American economies. As ISC accumulated data, it became clear that they would need to find a better way to make it accessible to other institutions. The data would need to be presented in a compelling, engaging way. It would also need to exist in a form that would allow the public to interact with it.


The Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness chose NetCharts as the solution for presenting its extensive collection of cluster economic data.



“Our site has powerful insights now that many players in economic development can use. Policy makers can use this information to understand the performance of their region… and to design economic policies that are more effective and more in tune with the local needs.”

— Professor Michael Porter, Director

Visual Mining’s NetCharts has played a critical role in ISC’s mission to make comprehensive regional economic data accessible and usable for economic development purposes. The Institute uses NetCharts advanced visualization techniques to allow businesses, policymakers, and the public to quickly and easily evaluate and interpret economic data. With NetCharts, ISC has been able to make data publically available on their website, where any interested party can interact with it.

The economic data gathered by the Institute can be analyzed at multiple geographic levels, including metropolitan areas, states and economic regions. It is possible to identify the most productive clusters within a region’s economy, compare the region’s position to other regions and understand the drivers of relative wages, employment growth and the formation of new enterprises. This kind of comparative data is perfectly suited to the interactive nature of NetCharts dashboards. Anyone can visit the Cluster Mapping website to create the specific comparison that interests them.