Studying Indian Trends at Harvard Business School
Reverse innovation is hot. As Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble, business professors at Dartmouth, argue in a new book, “the new reality is that the future is far from home.” Given the rise of multinational corporations, not to mention countries like China and India, low-cost innovations are moving from developing to developed nations, enabling companies to do better in their home countries and in other places. This trickle-up innovation is so important that not paying attention to trends in emerging markets can adversely affect established corporations.
No wonder, then, that Harvard Business School (HBS) has turned to India for its vaunted case study material. It ranges from studies on the branding of yoga, India’s unique identification system (Aadhaar), and a rural scheme called eHealthpoint to “Jain Irrigation Systems Limited,” “SKS and the AP Microfinance Crisis,” and “Sustainable Tea at Unilever.” And these are just from 2012. There are, altogether, no less than 90 HBS case studies related to India.
A notable one, titled “Terror at the Taj Bombay: Customer-Centric Leadership,” is presented in the manner of a documentary that includes video interviews and scenes from that horrific siege in 2008. Rohit Deshpande, an HBS marketing professor, explores how and why the well-trained employees of this landmark hotel showed exemplary courage in coming to the assistance of their guests. Of the 31 people who died there, 11 were the Taj’s employees. About 1200 to 1500 people escaped harm, partly because of what the hotel staff did despite the danger they faced. “This extraordinary customer centricity helped, in a moment of crisis, to turn its employees into a band of ordinary heroes,” note Deshpande and co-author Anjali Raina.
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