News & Highlights

  • MARCH 2019

HBS India Impact Series

The India Research Center recently launched the HBS India Impact Series. This series will hold discussions with change makers who are using their leadership, networks, and problem-solving skills to address fundamental challenges facing society. The first conversation was held with Zarina and Ronnie Screwvala, well-known entrepreneurs and philanthropists. The discussion focused on their efforts to facilitate rural transformation in the Indian state of Maharashtra through the Swades Foundation. The interactive discussion brought together 28 alumni to learn about the 360-degree model of change used by Swades, the scale and impact they have achieved, milestones, challenges, and future outcomes. We hope conversations in this series inspire thoughtful action and serve as a catalyst to building a community of like-minded and socially responsible leaders.
  • MAY 2019

Neel Ghose (MBA 2019) Wins Dean’s Award for Service to the School and Society

Neel Ghose (MBA 2019) is the founder of The Robin Hood Army, a zero-funds organization that distributes surplus food from restaurants to the hungry in developing countries and has served 14.8 million meals across 133 cities. Ghose brought his commitment to feeding the hungry to HBS, and during his time in the MBA program has increased his sectionmates’ awareness of the problem of global hunger. With the help of his classmates, the Robin Hood Army has been introduced into new countries including Indonesia, Nigeria, and Chile. Through his work with the Robin Hood Army and Robin Hood Academy, and through his actions on campus to bring awareness to the hunger problem in all nations, Ghose has been an inspirational role model while at HBS and impacted the quality of life for many communities, making him a 2019 Dean’s Award winner.

Driving Digital Strategy Discussion with Professor Sunil Gupta

This January and February Professor Sunil Gupta, Edward W. Carter Professor of Business Administration, toured Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai, presenting his research on the use of digital technology and its impact on consumer behavior and firm strategy. Alumni, business leaders, and entrepreneurs attended events where he discussed his recent book “Driving Digital Strategy, A Guide to Reimaging your Business.” His book provides a framework for companies to reimagine their business. Referring to numerous case studies and his own research, Professor Gupta demonstrated how the rules of business have changed and why it is no longer enough for firms to be better or cheaper to gain competitive advantage. He described how these new rules make it essential for companies to re-examine four fundamental aspects of their business to thrive in the digital era – their strategy, value chain, customer engagement, and organization structure.
  • September 2018
  • Club News

Exploring the Future of Work for Women

The HBS India Research Center, the HBS Club of India and the HBS Gender Initiative hosted their first joint conference devoted to exploring what the future holds for working women. The Future of Work: Accelerating Gender Parity Conference, held on September 21, 2018 in Mumbai, was an invitation-only opportunity for 200 CEOs and senior managers to convene with experts and scholars. Professors Robin J. Ely, Diane Doerge Wilson Professor of Business Administration and Faculty Chair of the HBS Gender Initiative and Joseph B. Fuller Professor of General Management who co-leads the School’s Managing the Future of Work project presented their research. Professor Lakshmi Ramarajan, Anna Spangler Nelson and Thomas C. Nelson Associate Professor of Business Administration, gave a presentation on gender identity.

New Research on the Region

  • 2019
  • Book Chapter

Ethical Business, Corruption and Economic Development in Comparative Perspective

By: Janet Hunter and G. Jones

This chapter contextualises the drivers of corruption in Turkish business through comparisons with Japan in the late nineteenth century, and India. It identifies the developmental state as a common driver of corruption. Catching-up by using extensive state intervention had the major downside that it has served to facilitate corruption.The operation of the developmental state may have been constrained by factors beyond the control of the state, such as shortage of funds or external pressures. Yet it is apparent that the individual measures that made up the overall strategy of the developmental state are not only vulnerable to exploitation by those who are involved in their implementation, but can positively encourage such manipulation. The example of nineteenth century Meiji Japan suggests the building of inclusive political and economic institutions, and consequent trust levels, can help address the problem, but it also suggests that old habits die hard, and that respect for the state and its institutions is something that cannot be taken for granted. The fact that some places, such as Singapore and Hong Kong, were able in recent decades to roll back corrupt practices is less comforting for Turkey. Turkey like India, has not yet taken the necessary steps needed to disrupt corrupt practices. However the chapter also explores the many uncertainties around the issue of corruption. The very term corruption is ambiguous, because there are many grey areas that result from variations in cultural norms. The existence of corruption also appears to not stop development. It did not stop Japan’s economic growth over the long-term. It has not stopped India’s rapid growth in recent decades, which appears, if anything, as correlated with growing corruption rates since the 1970s. It would appear, though, that the more extractive the institutions of a society, and the fewer the countervailing forces of productive business enterprise, the more potential there is for negative outcomes. In the case of Turkey, corruption has not prevented significant economic growth, but it also had negative consequences, such as poor quality building construction, and distortions, such as helping one sector of the business community grow at the expense of others. Its prevalence maybe part of the explanation why Turkey has struggled to build innovative businesses able to drive forward the development of the country and break out of the middle-income trap.

  • September 2019
  • Case

Blenheim Chalcot

By: John R. Wells and Benjamin Weinstock

In April 2019, Manoj Badale and Charles Mindenhall, co-founders of Blenheim Chalcot, were contemplating how they might go about developing their portfolio. Since founding the company as an internet consultancy called netdecisions in 1998, Badale and Mindenhall had transformed Blenheim Chalcot into the United Kingdom’s “leading digital venture builder,” having successfully built, and, in 15 instances, exited, 42 businesses across a number of sectors, including technology, financial services, sport, media, property, and education. In 2018, Blenheim Chalcot had portfolio sales of over £350 million and employed over 3,000 people. Unlike a traditional venture capital firm, Blenheim Chalcot was a “venture builder,” often developing its own ideas then bringing in and supporting entrepreneurs with a range of services and support, and funding them in return for a majority equity stake (typically 80-90%). The idea was to increase the probability of success by allowing the entrepreneurs and their teams to spend less time fundraising and dealing with time consuming tasks, such as property, recruitment, legal set up, and gaining access to a client network. This enabled the entrepreneur to focus more on product and customers. The downside of this approach was that the growth of the group was somewhat constrained by the founders’ own capital and their access to co-investment funds. As Badale and Mindenhall contemplated the future, they were asking themselves how they could best develop their ecosystem for building innovative businesses. In October 2018, they had opened an office in New York. They were also partnering with Imperial College London to open a 200,000 square-foot tech and innovation campus in early 2020. Should they continue on their current track? Or, should they be bolder, perhaps going public, adding new sectors, more businesses, bigger opportunities, and expanding into new geographic markets? How could they achieve these growth goals while maintaining sufficient control over the businesses? How could they achieve growth and maintain the quality of the businesses – and not spread themselves too thinly?

  • September 2019
  • Case

Teaming Up To Win The Rail Deal At GE (A)

By: Amy Edmondson, Ranjay Gulati and Rachna Tahilyani

In 2012, Nalin Jain, then head of GE aviation for South Asia, was given the added responsibility for GE’s transportation business in India, including bidding for a $2.5 billion contract to manufacture, service and maintain 1,000 diesel locomotives for state owned Indian Railways (IR). The deal, which would have been “the largest deal on the planet” for the transportation business, had been under discussion for six years, and many within GE had given up hope that it would materialize, but Jain persisted. In February 2015, when IR requested companies to submit a financial bid in six months, Jain quickly built an autonomous team, sequestered from the rest of GE, with people from multiple businesses and functions. His team overcame internal resistance from people at headquarters and stiff competition to help GE win the deal by a narrow margin. Jain was then tasked with executing the deal. As many of his earlier team members had moved on, Jain hired new people and built a new diverse yet integrated team for execution, with members able to put aside their many differences, look beyond their functional silos, and focus on the project deliverables. However, 2017 brought a series of challenges. GE changed India’s organization structure, making India business leaders report only to their respective global business leaders instead of reporting to both their business leaders and the India country leader. Jain’s mandate was expanded to include the entire international operations of GE’s transportation business. And, sub-optimal company performance forced GE to announce cost cuts of $2 billion. In the face of this turmoil, Jain wonders, “Have I created an agile team that can succeed in GE’s matrix environment and deal with the internal challenges? Do the team members have the maturity and motivation required for the project to succeed?”

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Mumbai Staff

Anjali Raina
Executive Director
Rachna Chawla
Assistant Director, Research Services
Anthea D’Souza
Associate Director, Financial and Business Administration
Kairavi Dey
Research Associate
Kalpesh Hedulkar
Mahima Kachroo
Rashmi Patel
Research Assistant and Educational Coordinator
Shreya Ramachandran
Research Associate
Sanjivani Shedge
Executive Assistant
Inakshi Sobti
Associate Director, Community Initiatives
Arjun Swarup
Rachna Tahilyani
Senior Associate Director, Research