WSBE Professor Reports on Travels in India
March 12, 2008
WSBE’s Dev Dutta (right) with Mathan Varkey, head of marketing for GiveIndia
Devkamal Dutta, assistant professor of strategic management and entrepreneurship
at the Whittemore School of Business and Ecomomics, received one of the 2007-08
CIE Faculty International Travel grants funded by the VPAA and traveled to
India in December 2007.
While abroad he presented a paper at a conference in Hyderabad, and visited
companies in Chennai and Mumbai. A report of his trip follows:
This winter, I traveled with a very specific research and teaching agenda
to three vibrant and dynamic cities in India. I had two papers to present at
the 5th AIMS International Conference in Hyderabad.
AIMS is the Association of Indian Management Scholars – a worldwide
association of management academics with an Indian heritage. As part of its
activities, AIMS organizes an annual research conference in India, which allows
its members to network with each other on research topics of common interest.
It also allows Indian academics to connect with faculty from around the world.
AIMS 2007 was held in Hyderabad, the southern Indian metropolis from Dec.
27-29. The theme of this year’s conference was “Technology and
Management: Two Pillars of Success.”
I presented two papers at the conference; a solo paper titled “Inter-organizational
relationships and firm performance: Impact of complementary knowledge and relative
absorptive capacity,” and another paper co-authored with professor Kam
Jugdev of Athabasca University, Canada, titled: “Project management,
resource development typology, and the quest for sustainable competitive advantage.”
The conference turned out to be an excellent venue for sharing research and
teaching insights with a wide group of scholars. It had plenary sessions as
well as concurrent sessions organized over three days, with common dinners
and banquets that allowed for socializing and informal interaction.
The conference was hosted by the ICFAI Business School in Hyderabad and this
allowed the visitors to interact with a wide group of MBA students as well,
especially since most of the administrative and logistics activities for visitors
were handled by students themselves. At a personal level, the conference was
very beneficial for me. Not only did it allow me to present to and learn from
scholars, but it also helped me to share best practices in teaching. Finally,
I was able to interact with some very bright Indian students on the topic of
strategic management and entrepreneurship, the case method of teaching and
its usefulness, and so on.
After Hyderabad, I traveled to the southern city of Chennai (Dec. 30) and
later the Indian financial center, Mumbai (Jan.7-9). This part of my India
visit was with a different research agenda – to meet the CEOs of two
very interesting companies engaged in the domain of social entrepreneurship
(use of a business approach towards social uplift) and write management cases
on them for a future course at UNH on social entrepreneurship.
The first company, Chennai based Desicrew Solutions, is engaged in a rural
Business Process Outsourcing initiative. I had an interesting discussion with
its young, twenty-five-year-old CEO, Saloni Malhotra. Saloni’s work in
helping to bridge the rural-urban digital divide in India has earned kudos
from around the world and for her pioneering initiative she has been named
the runner-up in Business Week’s 2007 list of best young entrepreneurs
in the Asia-Pacific region.
My final travel destination was Mumbai, to visit another incredible company
called GiveIndia, the vision of entrepreneur N. Venkat Krishnan. Venkat – a
graduate of the prestigious Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad – created
GiveIndia, a fully internet-based intermediary that connects potential donors
who want to improve the socio-economic conditions of India’s poorest
citizens with a group of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in
the field. What is interesting about GiveIndia is that it has adopted a very
different business model: (1) it classifies potential donors as individuals
looking for a “social return” for the investments they make in
socio-economic uplift, (2) it has a robust due-diligence process in selection
of NGOs that can receive these resources, and (3) it carries out its own operations
with an entrepreneurial mind set, relying not on any grants or support for
gratis but by operating on a revenue stream of fee-based services. While at
GiveIndia I had an incredible opportunity to discuss the spirit of volunteerism
and giving in India, not only with Venkat, but also members of his dynamic
team – Pushpa (chief operating officer), Mathan (head of marketing) and
Tejas (head of finance and accounts).
These two company visits helped me to appreciate how an entrepreneurial venture
can be created to specifically focus on the “business context” of
socio-economic uplift in a developing country. Even as I will be developing
the two case studies and teaching notes over this summer, I have been able
to share many of these insights with my students, to demonstrate to them that
business success and social uplift need not be mutually exclusive, but can
be combined for betterment of people’s lives across the globe.
My most sincere thanks go to the Center for International Education UNH, professor
Kam Jugdev of Athabasca University and her SSHRC funded research grant, and
the management department at WSBE for financially supporting my trip to India,
which made it possible for me to take up this research and outreach opportunity.