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How the Disciple Became the Guru

81 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2008 Last revised: 19 Aug 2008

Vivek Wadhwa

Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization, Pratt School of Engineering; Stanford University - Arthur & Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance

Una Kim de Vitton

Harvard University

G. Gereffi

Duke University - Department of Sociology - Director, Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness

Date Written: July 23, 2008

Abstract

They say that necessity is the mother of invention. In the '90s, India's Information Technology (IT) industry learned to compensate for the country's weak infrastructure and developed competencies that helped it become a top global player. Now several industries, including IT, have learned to overcome another major deficiency: India's education system. They have adapted and perfected western practices in workforce training and development, and now take workers with poor education and weak technical skills and turn them into highly productive technical specialists and managers able to compete on the world stage.

This paper is based on detailed interviews with the CEOs, HR executives, R&D managers, and employees of 24 leading companies in rapidly growing sectors in India. We present an overview of their best practices in recruiting, training, managerial development, and employee retention. We conclude that out of necessity - because of educational weaknesses; skills shortages; competition for top talent; turnover; and rising salaries - leading businesses in India have developed highly advanced, innovative practices and that these are allowing industries in India to become globally competitive and grow rapidly.

Workforce development has become a strategic priority for many corporations in India and a central occupation of their executives. The human-resource function of such companies has correspondingly increased in importance, shifting from support to a key strategic role. The results are evident in their ability to cultivate and retain workers and in the remarkable growth rates they are achieving.

The lesson that the U.S. and other countries facing increased global competition can learn is that workforce training and development may be essential to maintaining a competitive edge.

Keywords: workforce development, training, India

Suggested Citation

Wadhwa, Vivek and Kim de Vitton, Una and Gereffi, G., How the Disciple Became the Guru (July 23, 2008). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1170049 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1170049

Vivek Wadhwa (Contact Author)

Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization, Pratt School of Engineering ( email )

Durham, NC 27708
United States

Stanford University - Arthur & Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance ( email )

Crown Quadrangle 559 Nathan Ab
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States

Una Kim de Vitton

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Gary Gereffi

Duke University - Department of Sociology - Director, Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness ( email )

Box 90088
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States
919-660-5880 (Phone)
919-684-2855 (Fax)

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