- In The Media
Professor Kavil Ramachandran, a founding faculty set up the Wadhwani Centre for Entrepreneurship Development at the ISB in 2001. Later, he was the Associate Dean (Academic Programmes) before becoming the Thomas Schmidheiny Chair Professor of Family Business and Wealth Management. He was a faculty at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad for 15 years prior to joining ISB. He has been teaching courses on family business and entrepreneurship for various target groups. He has been a member of several national level committees of the Department of Science and Technology, SEBI and UPSC. He is on the Board of several companies and advises family businesses, growth companies and development institutions in India and abroad.
While the network theory and the resource-based view of the firm has emerged as a dominant paradigm of management research, entrepreneurship researchers continue to show limited interest in studying resource strategies and the role of network in building dynamic capabilities in entrepreneurial start-ups. Scant discussion is
available in extant literature on the dynamics of new venture resource strategy to explain how entrepreneurs continuously augment, manage and develop resources to match the shifting product-market strategy and use networks in doing so on a sustainable basis. This article, based on an analysis of two Information Technology
(IT) start-ups, explores the innovative and dynamic resource and networking strategies such firms follow. An attempt has been made to conceptualise and explain how these firms maintain flexibility in resources by using the network mode of organisation in order to avoid strategic rigidity and craft strategies that are suited to the high velocity environment. Several propositions have been developed and
practical implications have been drawn in this regard.
Most organizations find that their ability to identify and innovatively exploit opportunities
decreases as they move from the entrepreneurial to the growth phase. However, the key to
success in the highly competitive and dynamic environment that most companies presently
operate in is to retain this ability. Therefore, companies need to adopt an entrepreneurial
strategy — seeking competitive advantage through continuous innovation to effectively exploit
identified opportunities — in order to sustain and grow under such circumstances.
For such a strategy to succeed, companies should develop an enabling economic and
political ecosystem that does not impede small or large scale redeployment of resources in new
ways towards creative, entrepreneurial ends. Companies have a range of options to choose from
to achieve this objective. At the one end of this option spectrum is ‘focused entrepreneurship’
wherein specific innovation initiatives are created with the rest of the organization insulated
from them. At the other end is a managerial approach that leads to the creation of ‘organizationwide
entrepreneurship.’ Entrepreneurship in such organizations is a shared value and drives
managerial behaviour in conscious and subconscious ways and creates an entrepreneurial
Many mature organizations, unwilling to alter the status quo, tend to create focused
initiatives that are mandated to identify and exploit new opportunities. While such focused
initiatives may stimulate innovation, the very nature of their design erects barriers between the
existing organization and the innovation effort. This makes it difficult for the organizations to
access and leverage the existing capability base and to integrate new initiatives back into
The paradigm shift that the Internet has brought about in communication has opened up
a plethora of opportunities for outsourcing business processes (BPO) across continents.
Success lessons in manufacturing sub-contracting are found to be relevant for understanding
the logic of BPO. Outsourcing involves transferring certain value contributing
activities or processes to another firm to save costs and for the principal to focus on its
areas of key competence. The possibilities of disaggregating value elements for the
purpose of creating value in them at the sub-contractors’ premises and final aggregation
and synthesis at the parent organization are determined by the nature of industry,
limitations of coordination and control, product maturity, and level of inter-firm
IT-enabled services (ITES) includes services that can be outsourced using the powers
of IT; the extent to which this is possible depends on the industry, location, time, costs,
and managerial perception of the risks involved. The Internet has facilitated execution of
several activities, previously done within geographical proximity to the firm, from remote
low-labour cost locations, drawing both transaction cost and production cost efficiencies.
Some of the factors that come in the way of parents setting up their own operations
in India and have significant implications for the growth trajectory of Indian BPOs are:
direct cost of operations and scale economies
long-term assessment of India as a low cost centre
cost-benefit assessment of own vs rented
possible loss of control over their transactions and confidentiality and security of the
data if an outsider handles them
brand implications of perceived drop in quality
robustness of existing systems and processes.
Many BPO firms do not seem to realize the possible exit barriers and strategies to
manage exit, if necessary. What happened in the dot com era can very well happen in
the BPO space also unless care is taken to manage this rapid growth while retaining
productivity and quality.
Two key capabilities required for success in ITES space are: capabilities to understand
customer needs in the specific domains and acquiring business (BD capabilities) and
capabilities to execute them efficiently (Ops capabilities). ITES firms are likely to
bifurcate their firm into two parts based on these two critical success factors.
The successful segregation of value elements in a number of processes has enabled
value configuration in as many ways as required by customers, both in the case of
product and service components of customer value. The current trend in outsourcing will
go up when such analysis-synthesis becomes a routine. This will be accelerated also
because the capabilities required to do so depend not only on technical skills and
knowledge in a domain but also strong process capabilities.
The trend of outsourcing is likely to continue to grow in the future despite temporary
political protests because of the robust arguments outsourcing finds for itself in the
economics literature, both in terms of transaction and production cost advantages. Subcontractors
need robust systems and processes along with adequate domain knowledge
and assured physical infrastructure for this to happen.
In any case, the Indian BPO firms have to consistently prove their capabilities to
deliver and create near indispensable situation for the parent to survive without them.
This will not only involve growing technical and domain expertise, but also refinement
in systems and practices, while keeping costs under control. In essence, BPO firms have
to manage their consolidation and growth challenges simultaneously.
Millions of dollars are wasted every year in failed and less successful new
products and ventures. This is universally true. Not much success has been
made so far in solving this problem, though identifying an attractive investment
opportunity has been one of the determining factors of firm success.
Methodologies to spot an opportunity have been scarce and weak. This paper
discusses a simple but highly effective framework to fill this gap. This is based
on the logic that customers buy new products and services if they are dissatisfied
with the existing and if the new offering is better. Here customer need may be
explicit or latent. Two implementable frameworks are discussed. One, Criticality-
Discontentment Matrix for opportunity identification and, two, Customer
Dissatisfaction Elimination Chain to refine business strategies and thus to achieve
zero customer dissatisfaction for any business. A number of case studies from
globally known firms have been referred to illustrate the frameworks.
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