Case-study based learning : Building Management and Leadership pipelines

Indian case studies on building management or leadership pipelines are so huge. If one reads business magazines like Business India, Business Today, and Business World, one can always find huge examples of Indian organizations that have heavily invested in building managers. There are companies that even sponsor executives for various courses. Some dimensions of these real world practices are described in some detail in this article.


There are many Indian organizations that have contributed to the Indian Management excellence. This has taken many forms. We can specifically refer to a) Founding world-class Managerial institutions b) Indian Case Studies c) Evolution of specialized Management courses/institutions d) Founding of new world-class Indian School of Business. (ISB)

This article is the sixth article in the series on case-study based learning.

Founding world-class Managerial institutions

Decades ago, the world-class Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, was founded by the Government of India. It had huge support from the Indian organizations. The first director, the late Ravi Mathai, was a visionary par excellence. His ties with the industry helped the IIMA to become the best in Asia. Its superb policies for admitting only the best through the highly competitive Common Admission Test (CAT), has now laid the foundation for the supply of hundreds of smart managers who have played key roles in Marketing, Finance, Supply Chain Management and so on. This superb institution has also nurtured some of the best industry practices, as Ravi Mathai was a big role model for the best of professors who were also consultants in so many fields and expert corporate consultants, worldwide.

In fact, the same IIMA model is followed by so many research institutions. Indian industry has played a big role. Similarly, the Tata group was chiefly instrumental in setting up the world-famous Xavier Labor Relations Institute (XLRI) and the equally famous Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Over the years, TISS has become one of the best institutes for HR in the country, offering a healthy competition to XLRI. Most of India's best professionals are from these three institutes. The founder of the Tata group had the vision to set up a world-class science institute. Today, the Indian Institute of Science (ISc), Bangalore, is one of the best in the world.

The Birla group has also nurtured the superb Birla Institute of Technology and Science ( BITS). This is once again world-class. The Birla group, even today, has several Management institutes where it is directly or indirectly involved. Each of these initiatives is case studies in themselves.

Indian Case Studies

There have been several case studies that have been written on Indian experiences and Indian organizations are famous for such case studies. For example, the Corporate turnarounds done so successfully at BHEL, Maruti Udyog, and SAIL by Mr V Krishnamurthy are live case studies even today. The famous Datta Samant strike in the 1970s, that changed the complexion of the Indian textile industry, is a huge case study. The strike offered insight into what can happen if all capitalists group together.

Similarly, the great TVS strike in the year 1977, which actually saw the emergence of the Center for Indian Trade Unions (CITU) in Chennai, is a big case study. Indian industry has always been able to contribute to good case studies.

The fightback from Hindustan Lever, when it faced huge competition from the low priced Nirma, was and is a big case study. The rise of the Chennai-based Cavinkare is a big case study. The life and the shrewd business strategies of Mr Dhirubhai Ambani, and his ability to utilize all the loopholes in the law was a huge case study. It was not a great study in business ethics, though.

Indian industry has been able to offer a huge number of case studies. With the advent of the internet, collecting details of such case studies is now even easier. What the learner has to do is to collect all such information in one place and then systematically go about deciphering whatever lessons pour out of such case studies. This is exactly the best way to learn.

Evolution of specialized Management institutes

Over the past four decades, there have been a huge number of initiatives from the industry to set up highly specialized courses, that have contributed managers to specific sectors. For example, the Institute of Rural Management, Anand, at Gujarat, was founded with the express aim of preparing managers to serve in the co-operative sector, the agro-based industries and so on. This institute has huge industry support. What this institute has done over the years, is a big case study.

Similarly, the Reliance group invested in setting up the Mudra Institute of Communications, famously called Mudra Institute of Communications, at Ahmedabad. This institute has had huge industry links. One can easily find so many case studies of institutions run successfully by professionals from this institute. For example, Quicr. com and are two different organizations that have had several products from Mudra. Analyzing what these two did to grow and how they are still growing is a huge case study, even today.

Founding of the new Indian School of Business

Not to be content with the formation of so many IIMs, the private sector has also joined hands to form the world-class Indian School of Business. (ISB). The minimum qualification for admission into the prestigious PGDM course of the ISB is a very high score in the GMAT examination and also a minimum of four years executive experience. This enables the institute to conduct the PGDM course as just a one year course. It is superbly designed to meet the needs of the private sector.

In fact, to this day, ISB is not even recognized by the AICTE, an apex body for the recognition of MBA or equivalent courses. ISB wants full autonomy. ISB products are paid salaries that are huge and the average salary is far higher than even that is offered at the IIMA. It has no reservation for anyone. Admission is strictly on merit. It is a matter of truth that most ISB products are driving businesses in the numerous startups that function out of Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Mumbai. They are very much into operations and business development of IT-based companies, taking the computing world to the next level.

ISB is a superb case study of what can happen if the private sector contributes its might to management education.

Supply of quality Indian managers

It has been a huge contribution to the world's requirements of professionally qualified and trained high-quality Managerial manpower. Indian Managers rule most of the IT companies in USA, UK and elsewhere. The professionally qualified Chartered Accountants from India are manning the biggest positions in the biggest companies in Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia and so on. The UAE is one country where one can find hundreds of Indians in managerial positions.

The managers from world-class institutions like the IIMs, have brought in a huge amount of creativity and innovation in so many companies. The story of Indira Nooyi, a product of the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, and a native of Chennai, is a big case study. She is now the global Chief of Pepsico, one of the best organizations in the FMCG industry. Her marketing strategies are now the case studies in many B schools, worldwide.

The learning from each case study like BHEL, Asian Paints, Hindustan Unilever ( now Unilever), Emami, Pathanjali and so on, are now driving many more such businesses in India.

Each of the aforesaid events and the formation and nurturing of each Management institution is a case study by itself. The reader ought to pick up different strands of knowledge and weave them into an organized whole. The concept of loop learning explained in the first article of the series can be very useful here. The article is How-to-learn-from-Case-Studies-Part-1-one-of-8.aspx


One positively needs to understand, through case studies, the kind of educational ecosystem that exists in India for management education. Certain relevant points and events, and the contribution of Indian companies, towards Indian case studies, have been discussed in some detail, in the aforesaid paragraphs. The learner would do well to gather more information about each company mentioned as a case study, and the major educational institutions like the IIMs and ISB to understand their role in the spread of not only case studies, but also setting up of a very sound platform for Managerial excellence.

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