Prithwiraj Choudhury

Assistant Professor of Business Administration

Unit: Technology and Operations Management

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Biography

Prithwiraj (Raj) Choudhury is an assistant professor of business administration in the Technology and Operations Management Unit. He joined the HBS faculty after three years as an assistant professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. In his research, Professor Choudhury focuses on innovation in emerging markets. His two major areas of inquiry concern the management of human capital within innovative firms and the interactions between multinational firms and local entities in emerging markets. He was awarded the Haynes Prize by the Academy of International Business and recognized as the most promising scholar under the age of 40 in the field of international business. Professor Choudhury earned his DBA at HBS, receiving the Wyss Doctoral Research Award. He also holds degrees from the Indian Institute of Management and the Indian Institute of Technology. Before pursuing his doctorate, he worked at McKinsey & Company, IBM, and Microsoft Corporation.

Featured Work

Publications

Journal Articles

  1. Toward Resource Independence—Why State-Owned Entities Become Multinationals: An Empirical Study of India's Public R&D Laboratories

    Prithwiraj Choudhury and Tarun Khanna

    In this paper, we build on the standard resource dependence theory and its departure suggested by Vernon to offer a novel explanation for why state-owned entities (SOEs) might seek a global footprint and global cash flows: to achieve resource independence from other state actors. In the context of state-owned entities, the power-use hypothesis of standard resource dependence theory can be used to analyze the dependence of SOEs on other state actors, such as government ministries and government agencies that have ownership and control rights in the SOE. Building on Vernon, we argue that the SOE can break free from this power imbalance and establish resource independence from other state actors by becoming a multinational firm and/or by generating global cash flows. We leverage a natural experiment in India and outline both quantitative and qualitative evidence from 42 Indian state-owned laboratories to support this argument.

    Citation:

    Choudhury, Prithwiraj, and Tarun Khanna. "Toward Resource Independence—Why State-Owned Entities Become Multinationals: An Empirical Study of India's Public R&D Laboratories." Special Issue on Governments as Owners: Globalizing State-Owned Enterprises edited by Alvaro Cuervo-Cazurra, Andrew Inkpen, Aldo Musacchio and Kannan Ramaswamy. Journal of International Business Studies 45, no. 8 (October–November 2014): 943–960. View Details
  2. Charting Dynamic Trajectories: Multinational Firms in India

    Prithwiraj Choudhury and Tarun Khanna

    In this article, we provide a synthesizing framework that we call the "dynamic trajectories" framework to study the evolution of multinational enterprises (MNEs) in host countries over time. We argue that a change in the policy environment in a host country presents an MNE with two sets of interrelated decisions. First, the MNE has to decide whether to enter, exit, or stay in the host country at the onset of each policy epoch; second, conditional on the first choice, it has to decide on its local responsiveness strategy at the onset of each policy epoch. India, which experienced two policy shocks—shutting down to MNEs in 1970 and then opening up again in 1991—offers an interesting laboratory to explore the "dynamic trajectories" perspective. We collect and analyze a unique dataset of all entry and exit events for Fortune 50 and FTSE 50 firms (as of 1991) in India in the period from 1858 to 2013 and, additionally, we document detailed case studies of four MNEs (that arguably represent outliers in our sample).

    Keywords: Multinational Firms and Management; Change; India;

    Citation:

    Choudhury, Prithwiraj, and Tarun Khanna. "Charting Dynamic Trajectories: Multinational Firms in India." Special Issue on Business, Networks, and the State in India. Business History Review 88, no. 1 (Spring 2014): 133–169. View Details
  3. A 'Core Periphery' Framework to Navigate Emerging Market Governments—Qualitative Evidence from a Biotechnology Multinational

    Prithwiraj Choudhury, James Geraghty and Tarun Khanna

    We build on the emerging literature of influence-based models to study how multinational firms can navigate host governments. Our "core-periphery" framework posits that the actions that an MNC takes with actors in what we call the "periphery"—comprised of state, quasi-state, and civil society actors—can lead to positive or negative influence with interconnected state actors in a "core." There are two mechanisms by which this can happen: engaging the periphery may either change the information set of the core or help align incentives of multiple core actors. Engaging the periphery might be particularly relevant in settings where the institutional framework is still emerging. We build a case study of a multinational firm in the biotechnology sector to illustrate how the core-periphery framework works in multiple emerging markets across institutional differences. The analysis is based on 32 interviews conducted with the CEO and other executives of Genzyme at the corporate headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and in subsidiaries in Brazil, China, Costa Rica, France, India, and the United States.

    Keywords: Emerging Markets; Multinational Firms and Management; Business and Government Relations; Power and Influence; Framework; Biotechnology Industry; Massachusetts; Brazil; China; Costa Rica; France; India;

    Citation:

    Choudhury, Prithwiraj, James Geraghty, and Tarun Khanna. "A 'Core Periphery' Framework to Navigate Emerging Market Governments—Qualitative Evidence from a Biotechnology Multinational." Global Strategy Journal 2, no. 1 (February 2012): 71–87. View Details

Book Chapters

  1. Physical, Social and Informational Barriers to Domestic Migration

    Prithwiraj Choudhury and Tarun Khanna

    Keywords: economc development; economic growth; Development Economics; Economic Growth;

    Citation:

    Choudhury, Prithwiraj, and Tarun Khanna. "Physical, Social and Informational Barriers to Domestic Migration." Chap. 9 in Institutions and Comparative Economic Development, edited by Masahiko Aoki, Timur Kuran, and Gerard Roland. Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. View Details

Working Papers

  1. Bio-Piracy or Prospering Together? Fuzzy Set and Qualitative Analysis of Herbal Patenting by Firms

    Prithwiraj Choudhury and Tarun Khanna

    Since the 1990s, several Western firms have filed patents based on medicinal herbs from emerging markets, evoking protests from local stakeholders against 'bio-piracy'. We explore conditions under which firms and local stakeholders share rents from such patents. Our theoretical model builds on two distinct strategy literatures: firms appropriating rents from new technologies and firms managing stakeholders. We predict that a win-win outcome emerges when the patent strength is moderate and when local stakeholders form a coalition with larger national stakeholders to initiate litigation against the focal firm. We test our predictions using a two-pronged empirical strategy. Our empirical context relates to herbal patents from emerging markets and given that we have a small sample (N=17), we employ a fuzzy set QCA methodology. In addition, we develop four in-depth qualitative case studies to support our predictions.

    Keywords: Rents from New Technology; Local Stakeholders; Herbal Patents; QCA; Fuzzy Set Analysis; Qualitative Case Studies; Plant-Based Agribusiness; Patents; Emerging Markets; Health Care and Treatment; Business and Stakeholder Relations; Cross-Cultural and Cross-Border Issues; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; Pharmaceutical Industry;

    Citation:

    Choudhury, Prithwiraj, and Tarun Khanna. "Bio-Piracy or Prospering Together? Fuzzy Set and Qualitative Analysis of Herbal Patenting by Firms." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 14-081, February 2014. View Details
  2. Toward Resource Independence—Why State-Owned Entities Become Multinationals: An Empirical Study of India’s Public R&D Laboratories

    Prithwiraj Choudhury and Tarun Khanna

    In this paper, we build on the standard resource dependence theory and its departure suggested by Vernon to offer a novel explanation for why state-owned entities might seek a global footprint and global cash flows: to achieve resource independence from other state actors. In the context of state-owned entities, the power use hypothesis of standard resource dependence theory can be used to analyze the dependence of SOEs on other state actors, such as government ministries and government agencies that have ownership and control rights in the SOE. Building on Vernon, we argue that the SOE can break free from this power imbalance and establish resource independence from other state actors by becoming a multinational firm and/or by generating global cash flows. We leverage a natural experiment in India and outline both quantitative and qualitative evidence from 42 Indian state-owned laboratories to support this argument.

    Keywords: Multinational Firms and Management; Research and Development; State Ownership; Technology Industry; India;

    Citation:

    Choudhury, Prithwiraj, and Tarun Khanna. "Toward Resource Independence—Why State-Owned Entities Become Multinationals: An Empirical Study of India’s Public R&D Laboratories." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 14-076, February 2014. View Details
  3. Return Migration and Geography of Innovation in MNEs: A Natural Experiment of On-the-Job Learning of Knowledge Production by Local Workers Reporting to Return Migrants

    Prithwiraj Choudhury

    I study whether return migrants and their direct reports facilitate knowledge production and transfer across borders for multinationals. Using unique personnel and patenting data for 1315 inventors at an emerging market R&D center for a Fortune 50 technology firm, I exploit a natural experiment where the assignment of managers for newly hired college graduates is mandated by rigid HR rules and is uncorrelated to observable characteristics of the graduates. Given this assignment protocol, I find that local employees who report to return migrants file disproportionately more U.S. patents. I also find evidence that return migration facilitates knowledge transfer across borders.

    Keywords: Return migration; knowledge production; multinational enterprise; internal labor markets; Demographics; Multinational Firms and Management; Cross-Cultural and Cross-Border Issues; Innovation and Invention; Knowledge;

  4. Do Leaders Matter? Natural Experiment and Quantitative Case Study of Indian State Owned Laboratories

    Prithwiraj Choudhury and Tarun Khanna

    Our study is one of the first natural experiments around the role of leaders in the context of firms. Also while most prior natural experiments around leadership in the policy world have exploited the death of the leader, we exploit an alternate exogenous shock—rigid bureaucratic rules that constrain the appointment of leaders to 42 Indian public R&D labs with 12,500 employees. The bureaucratic rules ensure that the timing of leadership change is uncorrelated with observable or unobservable firm level characteristics. This enables us to circumvent the issues related to the use of manager fixed effects in the prior empirical literature. Efforts to incentivize individual employees to file and license patents did not meet with immediate success. However, patenting and licensing both increased once leaders at individual labs were replaced.

    Keywords: Patents; Leadership; State Ownership; India;

    Citation:

    Choudhury, Prithwiraj, and Tarun Khanna. "Do Leaders Matter? Natural Experiment and Quantitative Case Study of Indian State Owned Laboratories." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 14-077, February 2014. View Details
  5. The Role of Firms in Fostering Within Country Migration: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in India

    Prithwiraj Choudhury and Tarun Khanna

    High ability individuals can be constrained from commensurate employment opportunities due to their geographic location. In the face of physical, informational and social barriers to migration, firms with nation-wide hiring practices can benefit from facilitating the migration of high ability individuals from low employment districts to regions with better employment opportunities. We exploit a natural experiment within an Indian technology firm where the pre-existence of a computer-generated talent allocation protocol allows us to isolate the relation between an employee's prior home town/village and subsequent performance within the firm. Using unique personnel data for entry level undergraduates and leveraging the fact that the assignment of an employee to one of many technology centers within the firm is uncorrelated to observable characteristics of the employee, we find that employees hired from low employment districts (remote employees) outperform their non-remote counterparts in the short term. They continue to outperform their non-remote counterparts in the long term once we control for the distance of migration. As a possible explanation of our result, we test for selection and find that employees hired from low employment districts outperform their non-remote counterparts in standardized verbal and logical tests at the recruitment stage. To explain why the firm might be more likely to select high ability individuals from remote districts, we additionally conduct a survey of randomly selected urban and rural colleges and document statistically significant differences in employment opportunities for rural and urban graduates. Our survey results also indicate that not every firm follows the policy of hiring from low-employment districts.

    Keywords: Geographic Location; Selection and Staffing; Employment; Residency Characteristics; Technology Industry; India;

    Citation:

    Choudhury, Prithwiraj, and Tarun Khanna. "The Role of Firms in Fostering Within Country Migration: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in India." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 14-080, February 2014. View Details
  6. Codifying Prior Art and Patenting: Natural Experiment of Herbal Patent Prior Art Adoption at the EPO and USPTO

    Prithwiraj Choudhury and Tarun Khanna

    In the patenting literature, economists and legal scholars have focused on the question of improving the quality of prior art available to patent examiners and mitigating the filing and granting of patents where prior art exists in common knowledge. In this paper, we create a unique dataset of Chinese and Indian herbal patents filed on the USPTO and EPO between 1977 and 2010 and exploit a natural experiment where the USPTO and EPO adopted a codified database of traditional herbal prior art at different points in time. This initiative was titled the 'Traditional Knowledge Depository Library' (TKDL) and was pioneered by Indian state-owned R&D labs and provided the EPO and USPTO with systematic evidence of prior art on herbal patents based on a translation of ancient Indian texts. We conduct additional analyses to establish that the time lag of the USPTO adopting the TKDL agreement compared to the EPO was related to idiosyncratic differences in how the agreements were structure and negotiated, not differences in policy towards herbal patents at the EPO and USPTO. We also find that the adoption of TKDL appears to shift patenting in the West from pure herbal remedies that can be contested in court, to new applications involving herbals and synthetics, which are less contestable. Further, we study the ethnic origins of the inventors of herbal patents filed on the USPTO. For this analysis, we use ethnic name matching for all patentees of herbal patents. We also exploit an exogenous reduction in H1B (visa) quotas and find that herbal patents filed by Western firms based in the U.S. are driven by scientists of ethnic Indian and Chinese origin.

    Keywords: Patents; Plant-Based Agribusiness; Ethnicity Characteristics; Health Care and Treatment; Pharmaceutical Industry; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; China; India;

    Citation:

    Choudhury, Prithwiraj, and Tarun Khanna. "Codifying Prior Art and Patenting: Natural Experiment of Herbal Patent Prior Art Adoption at the EPO and USPTO." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 14-079, February 2014. View Details

Cases and Teaching Materials

  1. Microsoft in China and India, 1993-2007

    Tarun Khanna and Prithwiraj Choudhury

    Relates to Microsoft's expansion in China and India in the period 1993-2007 and the strategic issues faced by multinationals in emerging markets.

    Keywords: Expansion; Multinational Firms and Management; Information Technology; Software; Emerging Markets; Information Technology Industry; China; India;

    Citation:

    Khanna, Tarun, and Prithwiraj Choudhury. "Microsoft in China and India, 1993-2007." Harvard Business School Case 708-444, August 2007. (Revised December 2007.) View Details
  2. Genzyme's CSR Dilemma: How to Play its HAND

    Christopher A. Bartlett, Tarun Khanna and Prithwiraj Choudhury

    Genzyme, a global biotechnology company, launches a program to develop therapies for neglected diseases (e.g., malaria, TB), giving away the intellectual property. This case focuses on the decision of which diseases, which partnerships, and which markets should management decide to fund. But the bigger issue is how this program, developed under the umbrella role Genzyme's corporate social responsibility, fits into its global competitive strategy.

    Keywords: Global Strategy; Health Care and Treatment; Intellectual Property; Corporate Social Responsibility and Impact; Partners and Partnerships; Research and Development; Biotechnology Industry;

    Citation:

    Bartlett, Christopher A., Tarun Khanna, and Prithwiraj Choudhury. "Genzyme's CSR Dilemma: How to Play its HAND." Harvard Business School Case 910-407, August 2009. (Revised April 2012.) View Details

Presentations

Other Publications and Materials

    Research Summary

  1. Overview

    by Prithwiraj Choudhury

    Professor Choudhury’s research is focused on innovation in the context of emerging markets and has two broad themes. The first, managing human capital within innovative firms, examines individual engineers, scientists, and R&D employees working in various emerging market R&D organizations (multinational R&D centers, domestic firms, and state-owned R&D labs). Using personnel data from global entities and natural experiments within firms, Professor Choudhury studies how return migration, within-country migration, intrafirm mobility, and leadership change affect innovation outcomes and the productivity of individuals. The second theme, interactions between multinational firms and local entities in emerging markets, offers a view of how the relationship between multinational firms and their host countries in emerging markets can evolve dynamically over time when the host country changes its policies to be either more or less welcoming. Different corporate strategies, particularly regarding local responsiveness, lead to different “dynamic trajectories.” Professor Choudhury has also developed a “core-periphery” perspective on the way multinational firms interact with state and civil society actors in these markets. Engaging peripheral actors can lead to positive or negative influence with the state actors at the core, and may be particularly relevant in settings where institutional frameworks are still emerging.
  2. Return Migration and Replicating Innovation Capabilities in Multinationals: Results from an Intrafirm Quasi-Natural Experiment

    by Prithwiraj Choudhury

    Using theoretical arguments on grafting capabilities and mentoring, I argue that the transfer of personnel across locations helps multinational firms replicate sticky capabilities related to patenting. I test this using unique personnel data for 1,315 inventors at a Fortune 50 multinational R&D center in India. I find that return migrants have both a direct effect on subsidiary patenting and an indirect effect through their direct reports. I exploit a preexisting natural experiment based on rigid HR rules where the assignment of managers for fresh college graduates is uncorrelated to observable characteristics of the direct reports.

  3. Do Leaders Matter? Evidence from Natural Experiment at Indian State Owned Laboratories

    by Prithwiraj Choudhury

    Our study is one of the first natural experiments around the role of leaders in the context of firms. Also while prior natural experiments around leadership in the policy world have exploited the death of the leader, we exploit an alternate exogenous shock – rigid bureaucratic rules that constraint the appointment of leaders to 42 Indian public R&D labs with 12,500 employees. The bureaucratic rules ensure that the timing of leadership change is uncorrelated with observable or unobservable firm level characteristics. This enables us to circumvent the issues related to the use of manager fixed effects in the prior empirical literature. Efforts to incentivize individual employees to file and license patents did not meet with immediate success. However patenting and licensing both increased once leaders at individual labs were replaced.

  4. Multinational Firms and Innovation in India, 1970-2013

    by Prithwiraj Choudhury

    Over the past several decades, a rich literature has emerged on multinational (MNC) firms and their relationship with host countries. On one hand, there are models such as the sovereignty at bay model (Vernon, 1971) and the neoclassical welfare economics based bargaining model (Caves, 1996) that describe a conflictual relationship between the host country and the MNC firm. On the other hand, there are models that outline cooperation and dependency between the host country and the multinational firm (Bamet and Muller, 1974). Missing from this literature is a historical analysis of how this relationship between multinational firms and the host country can evolve when the host country moves from a policy regime that is unwelcoming to MNCs to a policy regime that is more welcoming of MNCs. For instance, it is not clear ex ante, whether such a policy switch would lead to MNCs across the board to invest in host country initiatives such as investing in R&D. India, which experienced two exogenous policy shocks, shutting down to MNCs in 1977 prior to opening up in 1991 offers the perfect laboratory to conduct such historical analysis.

  5. Firms as Catalyst of Within Country Migration: Evidence from a Randomized Intra-firm Experiment in India

    by Prithwiraj Choudhury

    In the face of rapid growth in many emerging markets, technology firms face severe labor shortages.  Yet there is often simultaneously a large under-utilized base of talent, disenfranchised from the mainstream for physical, social or informational reasons.  We study the effort of one major information technology multinational, “INDTECH”, with its production centers in India, to bridge the barriers that normally prevent hiring from remote areas and from disadvantaged social groups. We also exploit the pre-existence of a talent allocation protocol at INDTECH. The firm randomizes entering talent across the available projects in the 10 development centers it runs across India, so as to ensure that none of its typically large global clients complains about not having access to INDTECHs best software engineers. This randomization helps us evade econometric problems that plague studies that measure employee productivity within firms and helps us control for endogeneity concerns. Using hand collected data on personnel records and migration patterns for entry level employees recruited by INDTECH in 2007 from over 250 educational institutions all across India, we find that employees from remote locations outperform talent sourced from mainstream locations provided the distance of migration is less than 500 miles. Further, the non-mainstream talent appears disproportionately to use the firm as a platform for further advanced education.   Also, talent from underrepresented social strata outperforms that hired from mainstream social communities. However INDTECH does not help bridge the gender barrier, that is, women hires are not likely to perform better than their male counterparts.

  6. Codifying Prior Art for Patent System Reform: The Case of Chinese and Indian Herbal Patents

    by Prithwiraj Choudhury

    In this paper we use novel data of Chinese and Indian herbal patents and exploit the staggered introduction on the U.S. patent office (USPTO) and the European patent office (EPO) of a new CD codifying prior art, to study how ex ante information provision affects patent filing behavior. Herbal patent filing by western entities peaked in the 1990s. Several of these herbal patents were later invalidated in courts based on evidence of prior-art existing in Chinese and Indian traditional medicinal texts. We study the effect of codifying and digitizing thousands of years of traditional medicine text and making patent examiners in the USPTO and EPO systematically aware of such prior art. We find that this has an effect on both the trend of herbal patent filing and the type of herbal patents being filed. In other words, codifying prior art affects patent filing behavior and has a social welfare implication by avoiding costly litigation.

  7. A ‘Core-periphery’ Framework to Navigate Emerging Market Governments – Qualitative Evidence from a Biotechnology Multinational

    by Prithwiraj Choudhury

    We build on the emerging literature of influence based models to study how multinational firms can navigate host governments. Our ‘core-periphery’ framework posits that the actions that an MNC takes with actors in what we call the ‘periphery’ – comprised of state, quasi-state and civil society actors, can lead to positive or negative influence with interconnected state actors in a ‘core’. There are two mechanisms by which this can happen - engaging the periphery may either change the information set of the core or help align incentives of multiple core actors. Engaging the periphery might be particularly relevant in settings where the institutional framework is still emerging. We build a case study of a multinational firm in the biotechnology sector to illustrate how the core-periphery framework works in multiple emerging markets across institutional differences. The analysis is based on 32 interviews conducted with the CEO and other executives of Genzyme at the corporate headquarters in Cambridge MA and in the following subsidiaries – Brazil, China, Costa Rica, France, India and the United States.

    1. Winner of the 2011 Richard N. Farmer Award for Best Dissertation from the Academy of International Business for his dissertation, “Innovation in Emerging Markets.”

    2. Awarded the 2010 Haynes Prize for the Most Promising International Business Scholar, Academy of International Business, for his paper “Knowledge Creation in Multinationals” (Academy of Management Best Papers Proceedings, 2010). This paper was also a finalist for the 2010 Douglas Nigh Memorial Best Paper Award and the 2010 IMD Skolkovo Best Paper on Emerging Markets Award, both from the Academy of Management, International Management Division.

    3. Winner of the 2010 Wyss Award for Excellence in Doctoral Research from Harvard Business School.

    4. Winner of the 2009 Best Doctoral Dissertation Proposal Award at the Academy of Management Doctoral Consortium, International Management Division.

    5. Winner of the 2009 AIB/Sheth Dissertation Proposal Award at the Academy of International Business Doctoral Consortium.

    Areas of Interest