| HBS Case Collection
(Revised April 2009)
J. R. D. Tata
J.R.D Tata, Chairman of the Indian conglomerate Tata & Sons, played a significant role in building India's economic infrastructure. Under his guidance, Tata & Sons built locomotives, steel refineries, airlines, chemical plants, and technology-based enterprises. Inheriting his title as Chairman in 1938, at the outbreak of World War II, Tata was able to navigate his family-owned companies through the tumultuous political climate of India. He worked with British colonial officers, and later closely with several Indian leaders under both pro- and anti-business government regimes. Applying his family's values to the workplace, Tata & Sons helped revolutionize business practices in India. From instituting the eight-hour work day and paid leave to providing a retirement gratuity, Tata's policies created a standard to which other companies--and eventually Indian government regulators--measured themselves. Blending humane business practices with political savvy and a pioneering spirit, J.R.D Tata is remembered as one of India's most important and influential business leaders. Tata is an example of a 20th century business leader who applied contextual intelligence to a variety of businesses, dramatically changing the landscape of India's infrastructure.
Keywords: Family Business;
Personal Development and Career;
Business and Government Relations;
Nohria, Nitin, Anthony Mayo, and Mark Benson. "J. R. D. Tata." Harvard Business School Case 407-061, December 2006. (Revised April 2009.)