Global Delivery of Professional Services Conference: My (Controversial) Statements!!!

I just got back from the first day of the NYU-IBM Workshop on Global Delivery of Professional Services. First, I want to thank Natalia Levina, from New York University, for hosting a wonderful workshop. The discussions and interactions were superb. Thanks, Natalia…Wonderful job!

Second, as I was told during dinner, some (or most) of the individuals in the workshop may have misinterpreted, some (or all), of my comments….So, let me use this space to clarify a few things…I was on a panel titled, “Sharing Knowledge for Innovation”. During my five minutes, I addressed some of the background on my work on innovation programs (see http://ideas4innovation.blogspot.com/) and then proceeded to talk about my current interest - “understanding global talent management programs in Indian outsourcing firms”. The motivation behind this research project is quite simple – “Indian outsourcing firms lack an adequate global talent management capability to conduct complex innovation projects”. This statement triggered a lot of interesting discussion, and some emotional reactions. Well, as I noted in my comments:

1. I am talking specifically about “complex, blue sky, futuristic…” kind of innovation. I did acknowledge that Indian firms are great at “problem-solving/need-based” innovation.

2. I also acknowledged that I am not interested in studying the Indian culture nor was I was saying that something was endemic to Indian firms. I even stated that I was not making a value judgment as to the performance on Indian outsourcing firms in terms of their innovation capacity compared to other outsourcing vendors located in different countries. I noted that my choice to study Indian firms was purely out of convenience. I have access to some excellent graduate students and firms willing to participate.

However, even given these two disclaimers (and I acknowledge that I could have made these more clear, and plus it was late in the day…), I was surprised by the reactions…Most of the reactions, were let’s say not positive. A large contingent of the crowd tried to convince me that my observations were wrong, lacked generalization, or were incomplete…While I agree that there might be some truth in some of these issues, I do fundamentally believe that…Indian outsourcing firms have serious gaping holes in their global talent management programs which prevents them from taking on highly complex innovation projects.

I would be interested in receiving comments, feedback, data, and even case studies that support or falsify my hypotheses. I would also like to receive studies that have been done on the global talent management or human resource practices in Indian outsourcing firms.

I am Indian, have been Indian, and will be Indian…I love India…and want to see the Indian outsourcing firms to grow, innovate, and lead the marketplace….So, please do not take my comments as being a bashing on Indian firms…they are just my honest observations…who knows someday a journal may actually publish some of the findings from our ongoing research project…

Thanks to all that shared comments during the workshop, thanks to all that read this post, and the deepest thanks to all those that respond with comments, data, articles, case studies, etc…

3 replies
  1. K.S. Ram
    K.S. Ram says:

    The challenge facing companies like Infosys and Wipro is to build on their unique strengths. They seem to be interested in mimicking practices suggested by academic and business gurus from the US. Most executives in these companies still are awe struck by the so called big business school professors from major US universities. While, they ignore their own professors from local universities! One recommended way for them to be more innovative is to grow the local knowledge-base in India.

  2. Kumar Setty
    Kumar Setty says:

    I think it's a shame that a recognized authority as Dr. Desouza has to defend himself after offering an honest and substantiated observations on Indian outsourcing firms. I fail to see the reason for such sensitivity to criticism. Maybe our observations on the immature reaction should begin here?

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