The India Way

The governing board of Western Companies has traditionally been viewed as the owners eyes and ears, ensuring that company executives take prudent risks to optimize investor value and engage in no self-serving behavior or malfeasance while doing so. But drawing on the broad sense of mission and purpose that defines the India Way, Indian directors have become more deeply engaged in guiding company directions with less of an eye or ear on the shareholders and more of a concern for the community and the country.

American corporate governance has increasingly turned to rules, whilst Indian corporate governance have turned to more values. With more of a stakeholder approach, Indian companies are more focused on balancing the company needs with that of  the broader community. The India Way: How India’s Top Business Leaders Are Revolutionizing Management, by Peter Cappelli, Harbir Singh, Jitendra Singh and Michael Useem is the result of interviews 100 of India’s top business leaders in order to determine if India has lessons that can be applied to the West.

Three principles appear as key to many successful Indian companies:

  1. Employees are viewed as a company’s best assets and not something to be adjusted to fit cost structure or to be manipulated through layoffs to save money.
  2. There is a willingness (perhaps out of necessity) to do more with less.
  3. An all important underlying social mission to business and an interest beyond the immediate return for shareholders.

US companies could benefit from The India Way, with its greater focus more on long-term thinking and the corporation’s role in social progress.

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