ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

41 – Managerialism and the Transformation of Indian Capitalism in the Mid-Twentieth Century: The Experience of Ahmedabad

During the mid-20th century, India saw a great transition in the character the Indian capitalism. The role of Indian business communities have generally been studied under a dichotomous framework.

Convenors

Catharina Hänsel - PhD Student, Scuola Normale Superiore
Dr. Lourens van Haaften - Assistant Professor, University of Groningen

Long Abstract

During the mid-20th century, India saw a great transition in the character the Indian capitalism. The role of Indian business communities have generally been studied under a dichotomous framework: on the one hand as conservative figures pursuing risk-averse strategies in the context of traditional values, such as family, community, and firm reputation. On the other hand, enterprises have been celebrated for their entrepreneurial endeavours related to reformulating managerial techniques and labour regimes. This framework has led scholars to the teleological pitfall of positing a transition from “tradition” to “modernity”. How can we move beyond these seemingly irreconcilable historiographical perspectives?

This panel aims to understand transitions in the character of Indian capitalism through the perspective of Ahmedabad. With its strong ties to the political centre and transnational entanglements, the city has functioned as a critical site in transformational processes. Analysing how businessmen have adapted to crisis and rapid expansion, the panel traces the unfolding of new relationships between a) businesses and the firm b) managerial regimes and c) business in broader society. How can we understand of interactions between local management institutions and global “expert” networks? How did new management educational institutes impact managerial practices in firms? What were the implications for labour regimes at the shopfloor level? How did they relate to spheres of agricultural production?

We especially welcome interdisciplinary approaches for a discussion on the changing role of Ahmedabad in Indian capitalism over the past century.