About the Book

“With the expanding footprint of Indian groups and the success of Indian managers on the global stage, has the time come to define what the Indian style of management is?”

Anand Kumar

Established management styles, like the Japanese and American management styles, have existed for many years in the business world. The success of many Japanese and American corporations, not just in their own countries but also globally in the last century, has made academics and thinkers examine the reasons for the success of these corporations and define critical traits associated with the Japanese and American management styles.

With the expanding footprint of Indian groups and the success of Indian managers on the global stage, has the time come to define what the Indian style of management is? This book attempts to answer this question. While doing so, it recognises that since India is not just a homogenous entity, it looks at the different business styles that exist in India, namely the Gujarati style, Marwari style, Parsi style, the Chettiar style, and so on, and then attempts to come up with a set of characteristics that define the Indian style of management as a whole.

While there are few articles and papers on some aspects of the Indian management style, like the Jugaad (frugal innovation), there is no published book on the Indian management style. This book, therefore, could be a valuable reference for Indian students, academics and management practitioners in India on aspects of Indian Management. It also can serve as a treatise for foreign nationals who are keen to learn about Indian business and management style. With more and more foreign companies keen on having a share of the Indian business pie, this could be of help to expat managers in those companies when they set up a base in India.

The first chapter gives an introduction to the book and outlines its purpose. To set the context and bring about the differences in the styles, the second and third chapters of the book outline the key characteristics of the Japanese and American types of management as the author sees them. The fourth chapter delves briefly into the historical management and business scene in India and the established regional and community-based business styles in India. From the fifth chapter onwards, the author explains in detail the different aspects of the Indian management style as sub-chapters.

Examples from the corporate world are provided where relevant and possible. Indian Managers are in the news these days for getting opportunities to head global corporations in America. Towards the end of the book, a separate sub-chapter is dedicated to analysing and breaking down the nature of the modern Desi Manager. The last chapter summarises and concludes how the Indian management style can be defined considering the above points.

The book is based on the author’s personal experience working in India in Indian, Japanese, and American Multinational companies and is peppered with personal anecdotes. It is written in simple language and lucid style that can appeal to a wide range of readers, from students to academics in India and abroad.


Anand Kumar - The journey from
being a blogger to an Author

It was somewhere in the year 2012. I was just a few weeks into blogging. The initial posts I wrote received a lot of feedback and positive responses. So, writing a blog post every alternate Sunday became a compulsive routine. That put an end to the Sunday afternoon siesta routine in my life. The alternate Sundays when I am not writing, I am thinking about the next topic to write. That’s how one of those days, I thought of writing about different management styles.


I had just left a Japanese company after more than a decade of working in leadership roles which gave an insider view of the way Japanese companies worked. I have always been an admirer of many facets of Japan as a country, its culture, and people. Their sense of discipline, attention to detail, and of course not taking shortcuts in anything have always impressed me. At the same time, their inflexible approach, their closed-mindedness, and a sense of superiority in many aspects came out starkly when interacting with them closely. Discussing these and comparing the same to how we Indians were, was a favourite pastime for a few of us.


When I moved to an American company next, it was like a cultural shock for a while. The Japanese and American styles were like chalk and cheese. American style was all about quick decision-making and living for the quarter. But what was fascinating to me was the very open culture that encouraged new ideas all the time. Then I realised that whether it is Japanese or American any society comes with its pluses and minuses!


I started my career in Godrej, a traditional Indian group known for its adherence to ethics and commitment to quality, etc… Since I continued to work in India dealing with Indian companies – small and big on a day-to-day basis, I could also get an idea about the Indian way of doing business.


Coming back to that Sunday in the year 2012, when I was looking for a topic for that week, I thought why not write about the Indian style of management but largely comparing with the Japanese and American styles. I ended the post by asking if the time had come to define the attributes of the Indian style of management. It was just a post with over 1000 words but encapsulated the theme of Indian management style.


This post titled – “IIM – Has the time come?” where IIM referred to Indian Instincts of Management, elicited a good response from my usual social circle. Bolstered by the feedback, I posted the same on Twitter and tagged Shashi Tharoor who I saw had a habit of retweeting some posts with his comments. To my pleasant surprise, Tharoor read the blog and retweeted the same. My blogging journey would never be the same again. The post got a sudden spike in terms of traffic and visitors from not just India, but all over the world.


Even if you visit the post today, you will see a lot of reader interaction as well in terms of comments for that post. Last year, finally when I sat down to relish my long-standing dream of writing a full-fledged non–fiction book, my first thought for the topic was to develop that blog on the Indian style of management. When I did some research to see if there were already books on this subject, to my surprise I couldn’t see any titles. I could only see some articles and papers on some aspects of doing business in India and of course connecting the Indian way with Ithihasas, Puranas and Chanakya’s Arthasasthra. The one concept from Indian management that gained a lot of traction was Jugaad. However, I believe that the Indian management style is not just about Jugaad. Exploring these aspects became the central theme of my book.


While talking about the various aspects of the Indian style of management, I have tried my best to relate to my personal experiences and anecdotes and attempt to substantiate them with data, examples, and case studies. I hope you can relate to these as well and concur with me on my take on the Indian style of management. Do read the book and leave your thoughts and feedback. I am eager and happy to hear them.

Why the need to write about the Indian management style?

As an MBA student back in the late 80s, most of the books on management we were exposed to were all authored by American management gurus. These books obviously talked about successful American companies and mostly had American companies as case studies. Apart from American examples, the only other examples we could see were of Japanese companies. The reason for this was quite obvious. On a global stage, successful companies and brands in those days were of American or Japanese origin. Only when companies are successful and attain global recognition, do they get talked about.


People wanting to emulate the successes of these companies look up to available material. So, operations management subjects invariably will have detailed references to Japanese techniques like Kaizen, Quality Circles etc… Similarly, topics on general management will refer to Michael Porter’s competitive advantage theories and Marketing topics will refer to Theodore Levitt’s Marketing Myopia and so on.


Back then, if we didn’t find any reference to any Indian management concept or Indian companies, it was because Indian companies were yet to break through on the global stage. Cut to the present times, the situation is different. We have many Indian companies and brands which have made a mark globally. And it is not restricted to just software or IT services companies but even manufacturing companies. There is an increasing recognition of the soft power of India these days.


As I have mentioned in the book, the world is looking with bated breath at the growth of India these days and its metamorphosis from being a developing country to a developed country. There is an increased interest in investing in India not just to tap its domestic market but also to leverage its skilled resources. So, I thought that the time has come to explore the many aspects of the Indian management style that will be of interest to business practitioners in India and India watchers abroad.


The other trigger was also an interesting encounter I had with management thinker and author Gurcharan Das in my B-School of which I have written in the book.


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