Akshay Mangla

Assistant Professor of Business Administration

Akshay Mangla is an assistant professor in the Business, Government and International Economy Unit, where he teaches the course of the same name in the MBA required curriculum.  Professor Mangla’s primary expertise lies in the political economy of development, with a regional focus on South Asia.  His current research seeks to understand when and how public institutions work effectively in developing economies, particularly on behalf of the poor.  To that end, his ongoing book project analyzes how state agencies implement universal primary education across rural India.  In addition, he has conducted research on private initiatives to enforce labor standards in global supply chains.  He is a faculty associate at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, a member of the Steering Committee of the South Asia Institute at Harvard, and co-director of the Brown-Harvard-MIT Joint Seminar on South Asian Politics.

Professor Mangla received his Ph.D. in Political Science from MIT.  He holds a M.Sc. in Management Research from the University of Oxford and completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a B.S. in Finance and B.A. in Philosophy.  His research has been supported by the American Institute of Indian Studies and the National Security Education Program’s David L. Boren Fellowship.

Publications

Journal Articles

  1. Bureaucratic Norms and State Capacity in India: Implementing Primary Education in the Himalayan Region

    Akshay Mangla

    Himachal Pradesh has surged ahead of other Indian states in implementing universal primary education. Through a combination of field research methods, this paper connects these achievements to bureaucratic norms, unwritten rules within the state that guide the behavior of public officials and structure their relations with civic agencies outside the state. Bureaucratic norms are a critical component of state capacity that shape when and how public agencies implement policies effectively on behalf of marginalized citizens.

    Keywords: india; bureaucracy; norms; state capacity; education; Education; Government and Politics; Education Industry; India;

    Citation:

    Mangla, Akshay. "Bureaucratic Norms and State Capacity in India: Implementing Primary Education in the Himalayan Region." Special Issue on India. Asian Survey 55, no. 5 (September–October 2015): 882–908. View Details
  2. Virtue out of Necessity? Compliance, Commitment and the Improvement of Labor Conditions in Global Supply Chains

    Akshay Mangla, Richard Locke and Matthew Amengual

    Private, voluntary compliance programs, promoted by global corporations and nongovernmental organizations alike, have produced only modest and uneven improvements in working conditions and labor rights in most global supply chains. Through a detailed study of a major global apparel company and its suppliers, this article argues that this compliance model rests on misguided theoretical and empirical assumptions concerning the power of multinational corporations in global supply chains, the role information (derived from factory audits) plays in shaping the behavior of key actors (e.g., global brands, transnational activist networks, suppliers, purchasing agents, etc.) in these production networks, and the appropriate incentives required to change behavior and promote improvements in labor standards in these emergent centers of global production. The authors argue that it is precisely these faulty assumptions and the way they have come to shape various labor compliance initiatives throughout the world—even more than a lack of commitment, resources, or transparency by global brands and their suppliers to these programs—that explain why this compliance-focused model of private voluntary regulation has not succeeded. In contrast, this article documents that a more commitment-oriented approach to improving labor standards coexists and, in many of the same factories, complements the traditional compliance model. This commitment-oriented approach, based on joint problem solving, information exchange, and the diffusion of best practices, is often obscured by the debates over traditional compliance programs but exists in myriad factories throughout the world and has led to sustained improvements in working conditions and labor rights at these workplaces.

    Keywords: Working Conditions; Ethics; Supply Chain; Governance Compliance; Globalization;

    Citation:

    Mangla, Akshay, Richard Locke, and Matthew Amengual. "Virtue out of Necessity? Compliance, Commitment and the Improvement of Labor Conditions in Global Supply Chains." Politics & Society 37, no. 3 (September 2009): 319–351. View Details

Working Papers

  1. Bureaucratic Norms and State Capacity in India: Implementing Primary Education in the Himalayan Region

    Akshay Mangla

    Himachal Pradesh outperforms other Indian states in implementing universal primary education. Through comparative field research, this article finds that bureaucratic norms—unwritten rules that guide public officials—influence how well state agencies deliver services for the poor. The findings call attention to the informal, everyday practices that generate state capacity.

    Keywords: india; norms; state capacity; civil society; education; policy implementation; India;

    Citation:

    Mangla, Akshay. "Bureaucratic Norms and State Capacity in India: Implementing Primary Education in the Himalayan Region." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 14-099, April 2014. (Revised August 2015.) View Details
  2. Mobilizing Culture for Public Action: Community Participation and Child Rights in Rural Uttar Pradesh

    Akshay Mangla

    Community-based initiatives that work to empower the poor and promote their participation have gained strong support among scholars and practitioners of development. Yet the questionable assumptions about culture and development that inform these initiatives render it unclear as to whether and how community participation can be promoted in practice, especially in settings that depart from the ideal conceptions of community. Through a detailed case study of the UNICEF-IKEA Bal Adhikar Pariyojana (BAP), a grassroots initiative that seeks to advance child rights in India, this paper examines how traditionally disempowered community members learn to mobilize collectively around child education and health in the least likely setting of rural Uttar Pradesh. Building on the recent literature on culture and public action, and relying on extensive field research, village-level comparisons, and interviews with key stakeholders, this paper traces the process by which BAP fieldworkers and community members make strategic use of the cultural understandings, norms, and identities that govern family, gender, and caste relations to build new community-based networks that promote the rights of children. Yet there are serious drawbacks to these cultural strategies when attempting to scale up participation directed at an unresponsive state. To maintain ties with different caste groups, BAP takes an apolitical posture and does not actively build the capacity of communities to mobilize politically and make demands on state agencies. The findings suggest that cultural strategies for promoting community participation in rural India need to be understood within a broader political context of poor local governance and caste politics.

    Keywords: india; culture; child rights; caste relations; child education; child health; India;

    Citation:

    Mangla, Akshay. "Mobilizing Culture for Public Action: Community Participation and Child Rights in Rural Uttar Pradesh." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 14-100, April 2014. View Details

Cases and Teaching Materials

Presentations

  1. Bureaucratic Norms and Civic Engagement: Implementing Universal Primary Education in India’s Himalayan Region

    Akshay Mangla

    Citation:

    Mangla, Akshay. "Bureaucratic Norms and Civic Engagement: Implementing Universal Primary Education in India’s Himalayan Region." Paper presented at the Conference on Subnational Research in Comparative Politics, Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University, Providence, RI, May 9, 2013. View Details

Other Publications and Materials

    Research Summary

  1. Overview

    by Akshay Mangla

    Inside the State: Bureaucratic Norms and Primary Education in Rural India (Book manuscript in progress)

    When and how do poor democracies implement primary education effectively? India has earned accolades for its robust democracy. Yet the state’s historic failure to educate the masses has contributed to a poor record of human development. While India has made significant progress within the last two decades to expand school access and enrollment, policy implementation is still a major challenge as the quality of services remains poor and uneven across the country. This book analyzes the implementation of universal primary education in India. It advances a new theoretical argument that highlights the role of bureaucracy in public service delivery. Historical sources and interviews with policymakers at the national level reveal that India’s primary education policy was forged outside of the electoral arena by a coalition of committed bureaucrats. In the decades leading up to economic liberalization, committed bureaucrats worked below the political radar, gradually developing a national education policy. They accelerated their efforts in the 1990s, drawing on international norms and networks to gain political support, which culminated in the enactment of India's universal primary education program in 2001. Policy implementation, meanwhile, remained under the administrative purview of state governments. Sub-national level fieldwork traces the implementation process within three carefully-selected states in the Hindi belt region of north India. Notwithstanding the same formal institutions and administrative structures, implementing agencies across these states operate according to distinct bureaucratic norms, unwritten rules that guide how officials behave and relate to citizens on the ground. Deliberative agencies, which foster collective problem-solving, are found to implement primary education more effectively, as they can adapt policies to suit local needs and elicit complementary input from citizens. Legalistic agencies, by contrast, promote the strict adherence to rules, procedures and organizational hierarchies, which makes them more responsive to official orders from above but less effective in addressing local needs in implementation. The findings for this book draw on more than two years of field research in rural India, including 500 interviews and focus group discussions with state officials, civic agencies, parents and school teachers, along with participant observation inside local state agencies and village-level ethnography. While previous research has emphasized the role of electoral politics and the formal design of institutions, this book highlights the everyday norms and practices inside the state that influence policy implementation. In so doing, it helps advance our understanding of the mechanisms by which state agencies implement services effectively on behalf of the poor.

    Keywords: education reform; bureaucracy; policy implementation; India;

    Teaching

  1. Overview

    by Akshay Mangla

    Business, Government, and the International Economy (BGIE) is a course about the broad economic and political context in which business operates. Throughout their careers business leaders are asked to formulate and lead their firm's responses to the external environment. They may also have the chance to shape that environment by influencing government policies. In BGIE we will learn about the key economic, political, and social factors that affect this business environment: in other words, the institutional foundations of capitalism. BGIE examines management and leadership on a grand scale. The decisions we study have widespread implications and fundamental importance for business and society. We will look at policies that affect millions of people—and, often, have implications for every firm doing business in a country.

    Keywords: international economy; macroeconomics; political economy;