Archive for June, 2013

The feast that lies ahead

My speech introducing the research  papers presented at the World Management Conference- Goa 31st May 2013...a conference presented by all the 13 IIMs

It is my pleasant duty today to provide you a quick 10 minute guide that you can use to navigate through the many excellent papers being presented today. When we first thought of organizing this conference it was our fond hope that papers presented would go beyond the mere methodological rigor and would venture to the riskier job of looking at new and emerging issues in management theory. I am glad to report that we have many papers here today that do just that.
Corruption and bribery are daily headlines in India, yet little is known what factors determine why some business entities do these things more than others- is it the values of the people who run these firms or are there industry-related factors?. Malay Biswas (IIM Rohtak) examine a data set of 1106 Indian manufacturing firms to answer this question.

Management scholars are increasingly looking at business organizations not as stand- alone entities but as players in an environment. Saroj Pani (IIM Indore) introduces the concept of “Nodal Power” to explain why some firms are more successful than others in the same economic network of customers, suppliers and rivals. Sandhya Shekar digs into the concept of “virtual organizations” and develops a method of measuring the extent of virtuality in any organization. Saptarshi Purkayastha (IIM Kozhikode) studies 110 business groups in the 1998-2006 period and points out that such conglomerates prosper under conditions of market failures and weak institutional infrastructure but deteriorate when market-based mechanisms emerge. Swarup Dutta Institute of Management, Nirma U) examines how some organizations develop ambidexterity, the skill to pursue apparently contradictory goals such as being globally integrated but still be locally responsive.

The shift to the service economy is acknowledged in several papers. Susanta Mishra (IIM Indore) studies the link between emotional exhaustion and turnover intention among pharmaceutical sales representatives in India, a part of what he calls “emotional labour” and points to our need to get insights about employees in organizations such as call centres who have to constantly “put on” a pleasant demeanor and pacify irate customers who call in. Gilles Wijk (Esec Business School) asks whether service providers such as physiotherapists do what is right by their patient if they are asked by the hospital to measure their work by industrial era clock-time and not in an open-ended way that suits the patient. His unasked question is: will the time-and- motion principles that drove manufacturing productivity hold good in the service economy as well?

As India progressed through a series of cataclysmic changes from the broad-banding of licenses in the late 80′s to opening the economy in the 90′s how have the structural characteristics of Indian business changed? Tripathi Rao (IIM Lucknow) does a step-wise discriminant analysis of 6000 firms in 20 industries to study this. Chandan Sharma (IIM Lucknow) studies the productivity growth of firms who tried to cope with international competition by using imported intermediary inputs.
There are a number of papers on knowledge management in organizations. Amit Jain (National University of Singapore) uses data from US and Canadian biotech firms to study how organizations “forget” valuable accumulated knowledge (the converse of how organizations learn!). KBL Srivastava (IIT Kharagpur) has some pointers on using organization email systems to capture knowledge.

Being responsible to stakeholders other than shareholders is increasingly seen as mandatory, yet how does on measure how businesses perform on these dimensions.  A Rajagopal (Adhyaman College of Engineering)  compares the largest 200 Indian companies against 100 of their peers develops a sustainability reporting index and Ramendra Singh (IIM Calcutta) examines the CSR practices of 200 of our largest companies and propose a CSR Impact Index

What makes some companies internationalize more than others? Amit Karna (European Business School) studies 174 Indian IT firms in the 1997-2002 period to check what role the adoption of certifications like ISO and CMM Level 3 played in this and Ravindra Chittoor and Deepak Jena (ISB Hyderabad) uses “managerial intentionality” as the independent variable in his study of the internationalization of 226 manufacturing firms.

The characteristic of workforces are changing – no longer are they all-male and permanent or all from the same nationality. Prithviraj Chattopadhyay (HK University examines the “temporary worker”, a group that makes up 10% – 20% of the work force and studies what type of work gets allocated to them versus permanent workers; Rupashree Baral (IIT Madras) has some empirically grounded suggestions to be more family-friendly now that women and dual career couples and more nuclear and 20-somethings make up the bulk of our work force. Elizabeth George (HK University of Science and Technology) has pointers on how to work with internationally diverse teams. Vishal Gupta (IIM Ahmedabad) and his colleagues explore what types of leadership works in R&D settings.

I will end this guide by pointing to two papers who bridge management thinking with political economy. Arun Vaish (BITS Pilani) examines the paradox of many Indian farmers who have bank accounts but still borrow at what we think are “usurious” rates from the local money lender and has an unusual recommendation- the formal banking system has much to learn from the local moneylenders, he says, in designing a loan product which offers ease, promptness & assurance of getting loan as when required repeatedly- such well-designed products results in the borrowers being able and motivated to repay the loan.

Gaurav Chauhan (IIM Indore) analyzes financial data for 20,000 Indian firms for the period 1992 to 2011 and discovers that during this period these firms have steadily de-leveraged themselves ( reduce their debt/equity ratios). Is this a sign that they are capital starved? Is that in turn a result of an under-developed bond market? Has this resulted in these firms paying more taxes than they should have and is this the reason why corporate taxes have increased their share of government receipts from 8% to 30% in this period? And does this mean that Government now has a disincentive to develop bond markets in India?

Examining paradoxes such as these is the starting point for new ideas- many of the papers today do a good job of that.

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