Thursday, January 28, 2010

Why is it that India is unable to be the source of major industrial innovations on a sustained basis even though it has highly skilled talent and a penchant for jugaad (creative improvisation)?

This book draws on social, cultural, political, economic and managerial arguments to explain this paradox:

Firms are the primary agents of industrial innovation. While the incentive for innovation by firms in India has increased after economic liberalisation began in 1991, the inputs (funding, trained people and basic research and development) for innovation by firms have not kept pace with firms’ needs. Nor has the capacity of firms to innovate.

Government’s efforts to enhance the availability of inputs to the innovation process have been ineffective because of the lack of a strategic and integrative vision, inadequate resources, and poor implementation. Professor Krishnan explains the government’s shortcomings in this respect in terms of the political economy of India’s innovation policy.

Firms have failed to build an innovation capacity because of issues of ownership and control, and a number of deeply embedded social and cultural barriers to innovation. These include poor teamwork, the enduring importance of upward hierarchical progression, and a weak systems and strategic orientation.

To overcome these problems, India needs to move from a paradigm of Jugaad (or creative improvisation) to one of systematic innovation. Specifically, India needs to (1) create a critical mass of new, innovative, technology-driven firms, (2) enhance the technological capability of existing micro, small, and medium enterprises, (3) transform large enterprises, (4) create a new incentive system for universities and other institutions of higher education, (5) continue and enhance the process of dynamic reform of public R&D organisations, (6) change the structure of government involvement in supporting industrial R&D, and (7) create supportive societal conditions for industrial innovation.

Replete with a strong conceptual framework, case studies, examples, and data relating to India’s innovation performance, this book is essential reading for anyone concerned with the future of Indian industry.


  1. Congratulations, Rishi! I will look forward to reading your book.

    All the best and keep posting.


  2. Sir,

    I'd taken the New Product Strategy course under your guidance - guess the course was introduced first time in 1996. Without doubt the learnings and key messages have been valuable as I implemented these in the real world. My work involves consulting and working with Indian company's across industries (from 100 Cr to 5000+ Cr turnover). While most of these are profitable, they clearly lack focus, intent or strategic/planned investments in R&D. The need to innovate is not by design, its when 'I have a problem'. In a way, by adopting & replicating the designs, IP etc. of successful companies, Indian companies have proven to the world their manufacturing competence. The next phase of excellence (and survival) for Indian firms should seriously focus on innovation and in the sense of being truly Indie-genious.

    Congratulations on your book Sir.

    Gopal Anandan ('97)