October 25, 2006
News & Opinion: More Eastern Influence on American Business
BusinessWeek has an interesting article on the rise of Indians in the study of management. They mention names like C.K. Prahalad (Fortune At the Bottom of the Pyramid), Ram Charan (Profitable Growth Is Everyone's Business), and Vijay Govindrajan (Ten Rules for Strategic Innovators). The article suggests some common themes in their approaches:
Indian theorists, of course, have a wide range of backgrounds and philosophies. But many of the most influential acknowledge that common themes pervade their work. One is the conviction that executives should be motivated by a broader purpose than money. Another is the belief that companies should take a more holistic approach to business--one that takes into account the needs of shareholders, employees, customers, society, and the environment. Some can even foresee the development of a management theory that replaces the shareholder-driven agenda with a more stakeholder-focused approach. "The best way to describe it is inclusive capitalism," says Prahalad, a consultant and University of Michigan professor who ranked third in a recent Times of London poll about the world's most influential business thinkers. "It's the idea that corporations can simultaneously create value and social justice."
Also known as Song of the Divine One, the work relates a conversation between the supreme deity Krishna and Arjuna, a warrior prince struggling with a moral crisis before a crucial battle. One key message is that enlightened leaders should master any impulses or emotions that cloud sound judgment. Good leaders are selfless, take initiative, and focus on their duty rather than obsessing over outcomes or financial gain. "The key point," says Ram Charan, a coach to CEOs such as General Electric Co.'s (GE ) Jeffrey R. Immelt, "is to put purpose before self. This is absolutely applicable to corporate leadership today."