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How IIM Calcutta Fared in Thought Leadership in 2009-10

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How IIM Calcutta Fared in Thought Leadership in 2009-10
Convocation Speech by Ajit Balakrishnan, Chairman, Board of Governors, IIM Calcutta


For the last two years, its been a ritual for me to lock myself in a room for a week-end and read through the vast output of our faculty during the year. I get immense pleasure from this and in sharing with you today what I discovered I hope you will get a similar pleasure. The scale and width of the issues that our faculty has tackled is immense.

For example, why do some alliances between Indian and international firms succeed and others fail? Prof. B. N. Srivastava, of our Behavioral Sciences group, in a paper presented at the Academy of Management meeting in Chicago in August 2009, titled Positive Organizational Scholarship: A Cross-Cultural Perspective from Five Nations used the Positive Organizational Scholarship approach to study this issue and concluded that success is based on the quality of the connection.

The quality of connection, in turn, depends on the emotional capacity to withstand both negative and positive experiences, resilience or capacity of the person to bend and withstand strain and to function in a variety of circumstances, and the relationship's generativity and openness to new ideas and influences and the ability to deflect the pressures that shut the generative processes.

We have of late observed the phenomenon of foreigners being hired for top management positions in Indian firms. Prof. Rajiv Kumar of our Behavioral Sciences group studied the circumstances under which Indian companies hired such foreign talent and developed twelve propositions about this phenomenon.

The desire to learn superior execution skills from these 'foreign nurtured talent', getting their help in managing overseas subsidiaries particularly in dealing with the external environment are two examples of these propositions. He also notes that the Indian companies who hired such managers are ones that have global ambitions in growth and technical excellence. His paper, Foreign Nurtured Talent in Indian Business Houses was accepted for the 10th International Human Resource Management Conference held at Santa Fe, New Mexico in June, 2009.

We have seen the film industries in Hollywood or Bollywood where In independent business elements like studios, producers, directors, actors, technical personnel create a temporary network structure, which is project-based and inter-organizational in a "system of recurrent ties among the various major participants who usually work under short-term contracts for single films". Economists have been baffled why they continue this so-called network organization structure even though it has been demonstrated that the transaction costs of such a structure are far higher than a hierarchically or purely market oriented structure.

Since networked structures are increasingly evident across many industries, Professor Amit Jyoti Sen of Behavioural Sciences Group with a doctoral candidate, Apalak Khatua, proposed a framework `for understanding the circumstances under which such network structures emerge and their paper, Inside the Interorganisational Network, accepted for Association of Heterodox Economics Conference at Kingston University, Kingston-on Thames, UK, July, 2009.

Outsourcing is what has driven India's emergence as a global economic giant, yet little organization theory has developed to understand the many different organization forms these outsourcing firms take. In a study of sixty such firms, Professor Leena Chatterjee of Behavioural Sciences Group and Kirti Sharda, a doctoral candidate at that time, proposed five dominant types: Clear Eyed Strategists, Adapting Professionals, Focalizing Artisans, Conservative Controllers and Overambitious Associates. Their paper Configurations of Outsourcing Firms and Performance: Exploring Organizational Gestalts was presented at the 2009 Academy of Management Meeting held in Chicago during August, 2009.

Businesses have, since the 1990's gained great benefit from the Business Process Re-engineering movement. Re-engineering involves a re-configuartion of "core processes" that "set of interrelated activities, decisions, information, and material flows, which together determine the competitive success of the company." Is it possible to apply such a tool to governmental processes where what is 'core' and what is not is often under dispute, the concept of "value" and "value-adding process" are difficult to measure.

Professor Priya Seetharaman of our MIS Group and Prof. Raghabendra Chattopadhyay of the Public Policy Group, based on their study of West Bengal Panchayats, propose a system of 'process channeling' in their paper Process Reengineering in Government Institutions: Walking A Tightrope, presented at the 5th Annual International Conference on Public Administration, 2009 held at Chengdu, China during October, 2009. This, incidentally is a great example of researchers from two different groups, MIS and Public Policy, collaborating on a common research project.

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Contributed By-
Aloke Guin,
IIM, Calcutta.

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