The India Way: A New Mantra for Global Business

Jitendra Singh contrasts American and Indian CEOs' priorities in New York on May 13, 2010. (2 min., 37 sec.)
Jitendra Singh contrasts American and Indian CEOs' priorities in New York on May 13, 2010. (2 min., 37 sec.)

NEW YORK, May 13, 2010— In the wake of the recent economic crisis, much of the world is reconsidering how best to manage business and the financial landscape going forward. It is with this aim that the Asian Innovation Series brought together four experts:  Jitendra Singh, Michael Useem, Peter Cappelli, and Harbir Singh, all professors from the Wharton School of Business, to discuss the findings in their recent book, The India Way: How India’s Top Business Leaders Are Revolutionizing Management.

Jitendra Singh encapsulated the four key components of this "Indian Way" as being focused on holistic engagement with employees; businesses with high levels of adaptability; creative value propositions; and, finally, the pursuit of a broad and often social mission.  Innovative business models are spreading within the market and across industries, from software and IT to healthcare and pharmaceuticals. "What we see much more,” said Singh, "is these top leaders engaged in dealing with the interests... of a number of different stakeholders, not just shareholders, but employees, the broader society.”

However, Michael Useem, highlighted that India still has progress to make in reducing challenges to doing business and increasing competitiveness. Yet, despite business conditions, businesses are booming, including US companies in India.

In the discussion that followed, Peter Cappelli and Harbir Singh pointed out that India's growth, unlike China's, is not based on lower labor costs, especially in biotech and IT. These lead in services can mean long-term sustainability. Returning to the Indian Way model, Cappelli reiterated the value placed on the labor force in India, and that "the model that looks peculiar is the US model, because the US model, at least at present…we are not engaging our employees, we're not investing in them, we treat them as costs, not as assets."

In closing, Useem observed that during the course of the Wharton team's research, they saw that while the US has been the center of free enterprise in recent history, “Not all great ideas are coming out of Western Europe or the US when it comes to business management.” For that reason, a greater understanding and appreciation of the growing number of country models can be crucial in how the United States and the world can remain competitive into the future.

Reported by Sandhya Kumar