In the Introduction to India's Global Powerhouses Nirmalya Kumar provides a concise history of how Indian business have become a world force in less than twenty years. He goes on to describe the culture and management style that has led to that remarkable success.
Whilst low cost has drawn in outsourced services from the developed world there is more to Indian success than being inexpensive. Kumar shows that low cost would not of itself give Indian businesses the financial resources or credibility to acquire business on a global scale. He shows how a low revenue base has driven efficient operations and the management culture needed to maintain high levels of growth.
Each of the following chapters looks at the history of the featured company and how it has become a global player. The section then goes on to explore the challenges that it faces in the future. The lessons for other aspiring Indian companies are considered and put into a more general context for those Indian businesses facing the transition to becoming a global multinational corporation.
India's Global Powerhouses uses these companies as case studies and illustrates issues such as building global brands, outsourcing, becoming innovators and product developers in their own right. The book looks at. the challenges of managing global acquisitions and how to create and exploit a global meritocracy whilst retaining Indian business strengths.
The final chapters are used to pull together the strengths and weaknesses of Indian business culture and management skills. They also illustrate how the ability of Indian business leaders to adapt to local norms of dress and behaviour in business whilst retaining their Indian culture at home and in their business thinking. This may mislead western (and Japanese) business managers into thinking that their Indian counterpart think in the same way as they do - Kumar explains how this would be a mistake. Indeed he suggests it is not the only cultural difference that anyone dealing with Indian business needs to understand.
This then is an essential book for anyone concerned about their business's international, or even national, future strategy. India's Global Powerhouses argues that the business world is entering the century of Indian and Chinese dominance. Sceptics should bear in mind Kumar's question: In 1900 who would have predicted that the last century would be the American century? Arguably India is further on than America was in 1900 and global communications infrastructure allows change to happen much faster now than at the start of the 20th century.
A final point is made in India's Global Powerhouses, by Nirmalya Kumar and his colleagues,is that much more business intelligence and commentary is focused on China. At this stage China is investing in global assets whereas India is much more active; it is merging global companies into Indian managed global multinational corporations. Ignoring India and focusing just on China may be a big mistake for a western business leader.
Nirmalya Kumar is Professor of Marketing and Co-Director of the Aditya Birla India Centre at the London Business School.
Pradipta K. Mohaptra is a co-founder and Chairman of Executive and Business Coaching Foundation India Limited.
Suj Chandrasekhar is Principal at Strategic Insights Inc.
India's Global Powerhouses; How They are Taking on the World (2009, ISBN: 978-1-4221-4762-7) by Nirmalya Kumar with Pradipta K. Mohaptra and Suj Chandrasekhar is published by Harvard Business Press at $27.95.
First appeared on Suite101