Institute for Business in the Global Context

Where the World of Business Meets the World

Tag: innovation (page 1 of 3)

The Art of Curry Diplomacy

Infosys’ curry diplomacy was, no doubt, inspired by Donald Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” order and his threat to revise the H-1B visa programme. I am not convinced that extravagant job-creation programmes in the US are the best use of Infosys’ increasingly scarce resources. While the Bengaluru-based IT giant may know how to mix its spices, to “curry favour” is a phrase that, oddly enough, has little to do with treating someone to a mean curry. Its obscure origins are in the grooming of horses: “To curry” is “to brush”. By spending resources on creating thousands of tech jobs in a country where the administration is gutting resources for science and technology programmes in an industry rapidly being automated, it seems Infosys is bringing the wrong curry and backing the wrong horse.

Read the full op-ed from Dean Chakravorti in The Indian Express

Student Research: Behind the Numbers: Finding Success in Impact Investing

by McKenzie Smith (MIB 2017)

In their 2016 Investor’s Survey, the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) reported that 99% of respondents are meeting or exceeding their impact targets, whereas 89% would say the same for financial returns. As with many statistics, this near-perfect success made me wonder about the anecdotes behind the numbers, and the conversations that followed with professors, peers, and practitioners in the impact investing space formed the foundation of my capstone.

Recent research by the GIIN shows that impact data drives business value through five key channels, and other work has focused on just how impact investors are measuring impact. Still others argue for the use of impact classes to bring clarity to how we discuss impact, but few have focused on best practices for actively managing impact performance. As my conversations evolved, my list of questions grew.
Continue reading

Early Lessons from India’s Demonetization Experiment

Did India just pull off a monetary and political miracle?

Consider the sequence of events in its demonetization saga. In November the government made a high-risk, high-stakes economic intervention in the world’s largest democracy, with an objective to reduce corruption. Overnight, 86% of cash in circulation was voided. In a country almost 90% cash reliant, chaos ensued. As I said at the time, it was a case study in poor policy and even poorer execution.

Read the full piece from Dean Chakravorti in Harvard Business Review

Seize The Year: And Now For All The Non-Trump News Crowded Out in 2017

It is already the start of the third month of 2017. We have been so absorbed with the daily barrage of news from Washington DC and Mar-a-Lago, and news about news, both fake and real, that it seems all other headlines have been crowded out. So much else needs to be done in 2017 to create the headlines we would like to see in the months ahead. It is time to “carpe annum”, to seize the year.

No doubt, 2017 will live in the long shadow of 2016. We must also find ways to take stock and push beyond the shadows. Of the many from which to pick, we found 5 developments from the past year worth noting in its impact on our work ahead.

Read the full piece from Dean Chakravorti in Forbes

Online Retailers: Leading in Innovation, but Lagging in Corporate Responsibility?

Online retailers and brands are making beautiful, unique products more available than ever, and both consumers and investors have flocked to show their support. But are we holding them to the same standards that we’ve come to demand of industry-leading brick and mortar retailers?

Warby Parker store in downtown Boston

Warby Parker store in downtown Boston

In 2015, U.S. retail sales were $2.9 billion, and online retail made up just over 9% of that, at $271 million. While that may look like a small part of a large market, just five years prior, online retail was only 5% of total U.S. retail sales value. By 2020, Euromonitor International projects that online retail sales will nearly double, up to 15% of total U.S. retail sales. Notable growth in the online retail category is projected for every region in the world, which means it deserves the same consumer and investor scrutiny as the rest of the industry.

Through media attention, consumer boycotts, and shareholder resolutions, many established retailers and brands have realized that human rights and environmental abuses in international supply chains are bad for business. As a result, most apparel companies with strong brand recognition have since undertaken corporate responsibility or sustainability strategies as a matter of course.

Continue reading

Thiel Warms Up The Throng For Trump: When Silicon Valley Becomes Political

Silicon Valley, famously, is as much about that over-used notion of disruption as it is about over-stated claims to making the world a better place. Both goals have the power to stir up the millennial mind, which is good for recruiting. Both, however, also have strong political overtones: disruption pulls the rug out from under the powerful; as for making the world a better place…well, isn’t that what politicians are supposed to be doing when they aren’t politicking? No wonder, despite the commonly held belief that politics and technology are like oil and water, technology, without question, is increasingly tied to political expression. In the past, this expression used to occur in subtle ways. In the present political season, that subtlety has gone out of the window. Technology seems to have embraced politics like never before.

Read the full op-ed from Dean Chakravorti in Forbes

Brexit Could Deepen Europe’s Digital Recession

Brexit, as the British referendum to exit the EU is widely called, has caused turmoil in politics and stocks and head-shaking among the UK’s partners. All of this, of course, comes on the heels of many overlapping crises afflicting Europe.

In addition to the ones regularly in the news, I have argued earlier in HBR that there is a fundamental crisis unfolding over the longer term: the continent is suffering from a “digital recession” – a loss of momentum in their evolution toward a digital economy. Of the 50 countries we studied using a Digital Evolution Index we created, 15 European countries have been losing digital momentum since 2008 and EU countries occupy the bottom 9 spots in our ranking of digital momentum .

With the UK at 34 out of 50, it is worth asking: what is the impact of the Brexit referendum on this already dismal state of affairs?

Read the full op-ed from Dean Chakravorti in Harvard Business Review

Silicon Valley’s Obsession With Flying Cars Flies In The Face Of Business Logic

Bemoaning the state of innovativeness, Peter Thiel — don of the PayPal mafia, Silicon Valley VC, and most recently revealed as the nemesis of Gawker — remarked, “We asked for flying cars. Instead, we got a hundred and forty characters. It seems Thiel’s moans have been heard by no less than Google/Alphabet’s Larry Page, who has quietly been investing in, not one but, two flying car start-ups, Zee Aero and Kitty Hawk. Page, of course, has only taken a page out of the books of other pioneering legends, who have shared this strange obsession. The obsession dates back even to pioneering legends who knew a tad more about cars than Messrs. Page and Thiel; Henry Ford tried his hand at it and even managed to get a person killed in his own pursuit of a flying car. Of course, the industry is far from take-off; the only successful situation involving a flying Ford I am aware of is of Ron Weasly flying a 1962 Ford Angilia to rescue Harry Potter in The Chamber of Secrets. But I digress…

Read the full op-ed from Dean Chakravorti in Forbes

Who Knows If Robots Will Rob Us Of Our Livelihoods, But They May Help Us Live Longer

Regardless of how our new relationship with automation technologies develops, I am truly excited about the possibility that a certain class of bots might, in fact, make a dramatic difference to our lives – by extending them. A reality of aging societies is that we must contend with an increasing rate of colonoscopies, angioplasties and even nastier procedures. I take great comfort in the musings of the physicist, Richard Feynman, who spoke way back in 1959 of “swallowing” the surgeon as an alternative to all the nastiness.

In other words, bots can do good simply by being good for us.

Read the full piece from Dean Chakravorti at Forbes

How Mark Zuckerberg Can Resolve The Inclusive Innovator’s Dilemma

More generally, innovation in doing well while doing good is a growing trend among businesses seeking new markets in the developing world. Our research and conference initiative on this issue, conducted in collaboration with the Citi Foundation, confirms a growing preference for pursuing such dual objectives over pure philanthropy. For example, when we spoke with Sunny Verghese, founder and CEO of Olam, the agri-business company, he mentioned how pure corporate charity was not popular with shareholders. “But when you tell your shareholders that you are engaging in a variety of developmental initiatives which have some reciprocal value for the company, there are no questions asked,” he says.

Read the full op-ed from Dean Chakravorti in Forbes

Older posts