ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Management Education, IIM Ahmedabad and the Uneven Development of Managerial Capitalism in India, 1965-1980s


Haynes Douglas - Dartmouth College, History, Hanover, New Hampshire, United States


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


 The Indian Institutes of Management in Ahmedabad and Calcutta, founded

 during the early 1960s, have been celebrated for radically advancing the personal success of their graduates and for ushering in an era of business management based upon “professional”, “scientific” methods.  This essay focuses on the ways that Indian businesses actually adapted in practice to the first generation of IIM Ahmedabad graduates.

     I argue here that the development of professional management in India after 1965 was a very spasmodic and hesitant process, strongly conditioned by the internal politics of the country’s existing businesses. After briefly exploring the visions informing management education and the pedagogical approaches introduced at IIM Ahmedabad, I examine the experience of young managers in the world of Indian business after they were hired.  While  acknowledging successes in the experience of graduates (particularly in multinationals), the paper focuses on the uneasy integration of IIM alumni into many Indian firms, particularly those organized on a family basis. The training graduates received left many poorly prepared for realities in the Indian business world, where handling personal relationships and deferring to immediate superiors were essential. The essay thus shifts its perspective away from the IIMs and the new managers to that of business firms, illustrating the uneven character of transformation in Indian capitalism before the 1990s.