A while ago as I ventured to select junior managers for a North India based conglomerate, I decided to put the hopefuls through a different grind: I quizzed them about successful brands in various product categories like bathing soaps, detergents, candies, soft drinks, etc. Sure enough this proved to be an easy one for them. They named the brands pronto, most of them being from the stables of an MNC. I followed it up by asking them about cash cows in the same category, but this time from an Indian company. To my consternation, though admittedly not surprise, many demurred this time. Ghadi detergent, Hajmola candy, Godrej No.1 were entities they were acquainted with but were clueless about how these brands were proving to be formidable foes to their MNC rivals.
Most B-School graduates have to work in Indian markets which have their unique DNA, team up with Indian counterparts who have a typical work culture, raise money from the Indian financial system which is highly unorganised, and practice production and logistics management even when supply chain management is an alien concept. The importance of the kirana store in the retailing business, existence of caste-based groups in factories, highly fragmented financial and capital market, impossibility of adopting JIT practices for inventory keeping, etc. are some facts that an Indian manager has to grapple with. Herein lies the significance of case studies steeped in knowledge about business as conducted in India.
How can pickles be marketed; what is work-life balance in the Indian context; why do incidents like Bhatta-Parsaul, Nandigram and Singur happen; why is Anna a brand in his own right? The answer to these and other similar questions are not available in cases drawn from Harvard, Wharton, or other Ivy League B-Schools across the globe.
While it may be interesting to learn how Hollywood studios are marketing a Spiderman or an Avatar, it will be more instructive and gainful to analyse how a certain Vishesh Films has been able to crack the consumer code and deliver 18 hits out of the 25 movies that it has released. Or, despite having small-sized farms, why peasants in India generally favour to purchase a 50 HP tractor, making mincemeat of the mythical ‘rational buyer’!
It is certainly not our case to claim that by arriving at classroom solutions to a myriad number of cases a management wannabe can hit the ground running, or he/she can replicate the real-life working on, say, Project Shakti. But learning about the success of the Scorpio and the failure of the Nano enables him/her to grasp the context better than if he/she solves a case on the Prius or the Mustang. The purpose of coming out with this publication, therefore, is twofold. Knowledge being a ‘merit good’ (invoking Economics 101, if you allow us!) we, the editorial team, have decided to put case studies developed by IIPM faculty members into the public domain so as to make them accessible to all managers, practicing and aspiring. All these cases will be the narration of stories as they unfolded in real Indian companies and institutions. A subsidiary aim, of course, is that we would like IIPM to be known as a knowledge creator and not merely a knowledge disseminator, especially when it can claim the unique distinction of being hyperactive in teaching, research, consultancy, training, and publishing.
Ciao for now.