Understanding why search for "Indian " Management is a futile exercise

There were some people who started getting excited some three decades ago. You can learn so much from Ramayanam and Mahabharatham and the Vedas was what they said. Numerous articles appeared in journals. Yet, there was nothing called "Indian style of Management" at the end of it. This article is an attempt to discuss why the idea itself is flawed and why the search is itself a futile exercise.


As Indians, we are experts are everything. Most magazines would discuss so much about the personal affairs of the film actors than they would ever discuss poverty or unemployment or anything that is constructive and happening to address such issues. The same also holds good for those who think that there is something "Indian" in Management. Truth is that they are totally wrong. Management is the art of getting things done, with the most minimum of resources at the minimum cost, so that the organization makes profits. There is nothing that is "Indian" or "American" or "European" in this at all.

For example, the US organizations have to take the Trump administration as a given and cope with all its inadequacies or eccentricities. The cost arbitrage that was possible by subcontracting to Indian software companies is a big advantage and the US companies are not going to give it up so easily. Hence, in their getting things done from India, there is nothing "Indian". In fact, in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry, it is a ruthless demand for sticking to deadlines, answering queries, customer satisfaction of the tallest order and so on. The entire process is American and this is why the "Indian" Management concept does not work. Be that as it may, we need to discuss issues related to a) The Chief Focus of Management b) Influx of new ideas and products from across the globe c) Influence of the MBA Education d) The Concept of a Global Village and e) Inadequacy of the "Indian" concept to evolve a solid theory.

The Chief Focus of Management

The Chief focus of Management, worldwide, is to make maximum profits. Anywhere in the world, if the products produced from any corner of the world is able to satisfy customers in one way or the other, the product will simply be lapped up by customers. Evidence of this is seen in the way Indian tractors, with world-class quality, are being exported to the USA. Yes, Mahindra and Mahindra is able to produce world-class quality and ship it to the richest country in the world. The farmers are able to get a world-class product at a much cheaper price. This is exactly what will happen anywhere in the world. Apple cell phones are world class. They are lapped up by the richest Indians. The laptops are world-class too. They are once again lapped up by the richest Indians. Xiomi came in from nowhere, captured the Indian market and is now making deep inroads into even Samsung's market, which is a Korean company. So, we have a Chinese company called Xiomi, a Korean company called Samsung and the best company in the world, called Apple Computers, all operating in the same Indian market. They all make money.

Where is the "Indian" way of doing it? This author would assume that the Management specialists who thought they could teach the world everything about Management through Mahabharat confused issues. Mahabharata is no doubt one of the best guides in the world. It teaches one to focus on the process of reaching one's goals. This does not mean that goal setting is not important. And once again, goal setting is a universal thing. It can be American, or Indian or European. But it is the same, in essence. The sum and substance of it amount to the same. It can be slightly different when it comes to reaching some goal like 'inner peace". Hundreds of guys from around the world, do look up to India to offer solutions. Yes, there are so many paths. For instance, the greatest sage of peace who lived on this earth, Mahatma Gandhi had his own version of non-violence. It is relevant even today. The Mahaperiva of Kanchi Kamoti Mutt, Sri Chandrasekhara Swamigal always advocated sincerity and simplicity. While the first is universal, the second is exactly the way thousands live. However, this is not Management. As already pointed out, the chief aim of Management is to make maximum profits. It is a ruthless game. One should not confuse the Indian way of life with Indian Management. These are two different things.

Influx of new ideas and products from across the globe

This is another dimension. The products, the basic technology that helps anyone make these products are all from the advanced West. Yes, we now do have products that are world-class, with "Indian" technology. However, this is still a work in progress. The influx of hundreds of new ideas from across the world, like Management by Objectives, Core Competence, Competitive Advantage and so on, that have influenced the Management of hundreds of organizations in India too. The way the Indian companies have sought to develop competencies from across the world, employing hundreds of thousands of citizens of so many countries, is all Western in spirit and content. TCS, Infosys Technologies, WIPRO, HCL and so on, have managed to become globally competitive only because they have been able to adapt to the highly demanding standards of Western organizations. Their work environments are as American as they can be. Or European. There is nothing "Indian" about it.

Influence of the MBA Education

The Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, is among the best in the world. It had a collaboration with the prestigious Harvard Business School, of the USA. It should be noted that the method of teaching was and is still based on Indian case studies and also American case studies. There is always a global context of Management and all strategies to be successful have to be anchored in a global ecosystem. IIMA has provided this platform for hundreds of managers to get this done. This is exactly why the students from IIMA are so powerful and successful.

The Concept of a Global Village

This is a new reality. The tremendous reach of the new IT infrastructure is now global. It is available across the world. It will continue to make distances very small. It will reduce foreign travel, as everything can be done through video conferencing. The cost of all If products will fall over time. Already, what's up calls are free across nations. This is exactly what will happen and people from across the world will be able to access information and products in real time. There is nothing "Indian" about this.

Inadequacy of the "Indian" concept to evolve a solid theory

The professors who started talking so much about "Indian Style of Management" were not able to prove anything. They were able to get the core messages of Ramayana and Mahabharatha but were unable to provide a credible theory as to how that could influence profits and business goals in any meaningful narrative. This is because the concept of Management is global. It is only global. It is not American or European or Indian. It is the same everywhere. The core of any "style" is profits. It is similar to our heroes of commercial cinema. The ultimate goal is to make money. Every guy has his own style. But at the end of the day, it is money. It is the sweet smell of money that matters. Period.


Management, anywhere in the world, will be driven by technology. Ultimately, it is the profits that count. The Indian epics can only teach personal effectiveness. This is only one part of the whole story. Management is a totally different ball game altogether. In this game, results matter most. And is one reality on which the "Indian" search for an "Indian Style of Management" does not hold water.


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