South Asia

32 Results


College Admissions as Non-Price Competition: The Case of South Korea

College admissions is a matching market—applicants cannot simply choose which college to attend, they must be admitted. From the perspective of colleges competing for top applicants, how can these institutions make the best strategic decisions and increase their own desirability? South Korea offers an ideal case study for analyzing efficiency in college admissions matching because the national government sets the rules in centralized fashion and South Korea has made several important changes in the rules in 1994. The authors develop a model to study the incentives for colleges before and after the reforms, and compare the predictions of the model to stylized facts about the behavior of South Korean colleges given each set of rules. The authors then assess the success of the reforms before and after these changes to admissions rules. Findings show that the 1994 South Korean college admission reforms increased the efficiency of the assignment process in two ways. First, these reforms reduced congestion, ensuring that all students could apply to at least three highly-ranked colleges (once in early admissions and then on two different dates in regular admissions). Second, this reform provided new information to colleges, enabling them to promote specialized matches in their regular admission decisions. Read More

Entrepreneurship and Business Groups: An Evolutionary Perspective on the Growth of the Koç Group in Turkey

This working paper examines the emergence and growth of diversified business groups in Turkey, where such groups played a critical role in the creation of modern industries and remain dominant in the economy even today. Specifically, the authors focus on the origins of the Koç Group, which grew to be the largest business group in Turkey. They explore the dynamics of its growth from its foundation in 1917 until the late 1980s. Overall, this research supports prevailing explanations of business groups which identify the role of institutional voids, government policies, and contact capabilities. However, the authors also stress that entrepreneurship needs to be incorporated into the determinants of business group growth, especially to account for why particular entrepreneurs built such groups while others, faced with similar conditions, did not. Read More

Building Histories of Emerging Economies One Interview at a Time

Much of modern business history has been written on experiences in the United States, Europe, and Japan. Now, the unheard stories of emerging markets in Africa, Asia, and Latin America are being told on a new website by the Business History Initiative. Open for comment; 3 Comments posted.

The Fantastic Horizon: How to Invest in a New City

Rapid urbanization and resource scarcity pose problems—and opportunities—for businesses and governments all over the world. Senior Lecturer John Macomber writes about his recent investigative visits to nascent privately-funded municipalities in Saudi Arabia and Vietnam. Closed for comment; 3 Comments posted.

China’s 60-Year Road from Revolution to World Power

In a new book, The People's Republic of China at 60: An International Assessment, HBS professor William C. Kirby discusses common assumptions about pre-revolutionary China and its development into an economic power. Read More

Multinational Firms, Labor Market Discrimination, and the Capture of Competitive Advantage by Exploiting the Social Divide

Women and ethnic minorities are frequently discriminated against in the labor markets of both developed and emerging economies, particularly in opportunities for management positions. Multinationals entering such markets must decide whether to aggressively hire and promote the excluded group, thus reaping the benefits of their underutilized talent, or conform to local practice and avoid provoking some bigoted policymakers, executives, purchasers, and/or supply agents. In this paper, HBS professor Jordan Siegel, Lynn Pyun, and B.Y. Cheon find that multinationals gain significant competitive opportunities by scanning the host-market social landscape, identifying social schisms in the labor market, and exploiting such schisms by actively hiring and promoting members of the excluded group to positions of management responsibility. Read More

Developing Asia’s Largest Slum

In a recent case study, HBS assistant professor Lakshmi Iyer and lecturer John Macomber examine ongoing efforts to forge a public-private mixed development in Dharavi—featured in the film Slumdog Millionaire. But there is a reason this project has languished for years. From the HBS Alumni Bulletin. Read More

State Owned Entity Reform in Absence of Privatization: Reforming Indian National Laboratories and Role of Leadership

Is privatization necessary? In India and across emerging markets, state-owned entities (SOEs) continue to make up a large proportion of industrial sales, yet they lag behind private counterparts on performance measures. But SOEs may be able to significantly improve performance even in the absence of property rights, according to HBS doctoral candidate Prithwiraj Choudhury and professor Tarun Khanna. As they document, 42 Indian state-owned laboratories started from a base of negligible U.S. patents, yet in the period 1993-2006 (during which the Indian government launched an ambitious privatization program), the labs were granted more patents than all domestic private firms combined. The labs then licensed several of these patents to multinationals, and licensing revenue increased from 3 percent to 15 percent as a fraction of government budgetary support. Findings are relevant to firms and R&D entities around the world that depend on varying degrees of government budgetary support and government control, especially in emerging markets like India, where SOEs control up to one-third of all industrial activity. Read More

India Transformed? Insights from the Firm Level 1988-2005

Between 1986 and 2005, Indian growth put to rest the concern that there was something about the "nature of India" that made rapid growth difficult. Following broad-ranging reforms in the mid-1980s and early 1990s, the state deregulated entry, both domestic and foreign, in many industries, and also hugely reduced barriers to trade. Laura Alfaro of Harvard Business School and Anusha Chari of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill analyze the evolution of India's industrial structure at the firm level following the reforms. Despite the substantial increase in the number of private and foreign firms, the overall pattern that emerges is one of continued incumbent dominance in terms of assets, sales, and profits in both state-owned and traditional private firms. Read More

Fluid Teams and Fluid Tasks: The Impact of Team Familiarity and Variation in Experience

In the context of team performance, common wisdom suggests that performance is maximized when individuals complete the same work with the same people. Although repetition is valuable, at least up to a point, in many settings such as consulting, product development, and software services organizations consist largely of fluid teams executing projects for different customers. In fluid teams, members bring their varied experience sets together and attempt to generate innovative output before the team is disassembled and its individual members move on to new projects. Using the empirical setting of Wipro Technologies, a leading firm in the Indian software services industry, this study examines the potential positive and negative consequences of variation in team member experience as well as how fluid teams may capture the benefits of variation while mitigating the coordination costs it creates. Read More

Barriers to Household Risk Management: Evidence from India

Insurance markets are growing rapidly in developing countries. Despite the promise of these markets, however, adoption to date has been relatively slow. Yet households often remain exposed to movements in local weather; regional house prices; prices of commodities like rice, heating oil, and gasoline; and local, regional, and national income fluctuations. In many cases, financial contracts simply do not exist to hedge these exposures, and when contracts do exist their use is not widespread. Why don't financial markets develop to help households hedge these risks? Why don't more households participate when formal markets are available? HBS professor Shawn Cole and coauthors attempt to shed light on these questions by studying participation in rural India in a rainfall risk-management product that provides a payoff based on monsoon rainfall. The results suggest that it may take a significant amount of time—and substantial marketing efforts—to increase adoption of risk-management tools at the household level. Read More

Money or Knowledge? What Drives Demand for Financial Services in Emerging Markets?

Why is there apparently limited demand for financial services in emerging markets? On the one hand, low-income individuals may not want formal services when informal savings, credit, and insurance markets function reasonably well, and the benefits of formal financial market participation may not exceed the costs. On the other hand, limited financial literacy could be the barrier: If people are not familiar or comfortable with products, they will not demand them. These two views carry significantly different implications for the development of financial markets around the world, and would suggest quite different policy decisions by governments and international organizations seeking to promote "financial deepening." HBS professor Shawn Cole and coauthors found that financial literacy education has no effect on the probability of opening a bank savings account for the full population, although it does significantly increase the probability among those with low initial levels of financial literacy and low levels of education. In contrast, modest financial subsidies significantly increase the share of households that open a bank savings account within the subsequent two months. Read More

The Bloody Millennium: Internal Conflict in South Asia

What accounts for the disturbing trend of increasing terrorism and associated fatalities in South Asia? In 2007, a quarter of all terrorist attacks worldwide were committed in South Asia, second only to Iraq. HBS professor Lakshmi Iyer presents the first comprehensive analysis of internal conflict in South Asia using multiple data sources and incorporating a long-run time frame. She finds that the intensity of internal conflict in the post-2001 period is strongly associated with poverty, both in a cross-country comparison and in a comparison of districts within India and Nepal. Measures implemented by regional and national governments to combat internal violence vary considerably across countries and over time. Typically, the use of military force or relying on unofficial militias has not proved to be a successful counterinsurgency tactic in South Asia; strengthening police activity and using a political accommodation approach has led to some successes in the past. Read More

Do Voters Appreciate Responsive Governments? Evidence from Indian Disaster Relief

In a functioning democracy, politicians' ability to win reelection declines when they perform poorly. This idea fits well with models of political accountability. Recent evidence suggests, however, that voters may punish politicians even for events outside their control. This behavior may violate standard models of democratic accountability, and has been advanced as evidence of voter irrationality. This paper uses detailed weather, electoral, and relief data to identify the relationship between government responsiveness to an emergency and electoral decisions. Specifically, the authors look at the decisions that Indian voters made in provincial elections, using the intensity of the monsoon rains as an exogenous shock to welfare. They find that voters, on average, punish incumbent politicians for being in office during weather events beyond their control. However, the degree of voter punishment is reduced somewhat when the government responds more vigorously to the crisis. Read More

Traveling Agents: Political Change and Bureaucratic Turnover in India

Politicians and bureaucrats are two important pillars of governance, but while politicians are motivated by short-term electoral pressures, bureaucrats are driven by long-term career concerns. This difference in the nature of their incentives is, in most cases, deliberate and constitutionally provided for. Iyer and Mani address two key questions in this paper: How do politicians facing short-term electoral pressures control bureaucrats with low-powered incentives? In turn, how do bureaucrats respond to these incentives? The authors develop a simple framework and provide empirical evidence on both the politicians' and the bureaucrats' strategies, using a detailed data set on the entire career histories of officers in the Indian Administrative Service, the top layer of government bureaucracy in India. Read More

Fixing Market Failures or Fixing Elections? Agricultural Credit in India

There are strong theoretical reasons to believe that politicians manipulate resources under their control to achieve electoral success. Yet, compelling examples of this manipulation are heretofore rarely documented in scholarly literature. Cole's paper presents evidence that government-owned banks in India serve the electoral interests of politicians. It also analyzes how resources are strategically distributed. Read More

Accountability and Inequality in Single-Party Regimes: A Comparative Analysis of Vietnam and China

While both China and Vietnam have experienced rapid annual growth over the past two decades, income inequality has risen more rapidly in China than in Vietnam during the same period. Structural and socio-cultural determinants fail to account for these divergent paths, as nearly every variable predicts higher inequality in Vietnam. This paper by Regina Abrami and colleagues focuses on differences in political institutions to explain these divergent paths. In so doing, it contributes to a growing body of literature describing variation in authoritarian regimes, but focuses on variation within one authoritarian regime type. Read More

Sharpening Your Skills: Disaster!

Disaster brings out the best in some, the worst in others. But every disaster tells a tale we can learn from. Here we look at lessons learned from failures involving polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, NASA, and a Mount Everest climbing team. Read More

Colonial Land Tenure, Electoral Competition and Public Goods in India

How is the impact of historical institutions felt today? This comparative analysis by Banerjee and Iyer highlights the impact of a specific historical institution on long-term development, specifically the land tenure systems instituted during British colonial rule. The paper compares the long-term development outcomes between areas where controls rights in land were historically given to a few landlords and areas where such rights were more broadly distributed. The paper also documents the impact of these differing historical institutions on political participation and electoral competition in the post-colonial period. Read More

Podcast: The Potential Partnership of India and China

Even without cooperation between them, China and India appear headed toward economic superpower status in the coming decades. But what if they worked together? In this podcast, Harvard Business School professor Tarun Khanna discusses the possibility of Sino-Indian cooperation and its impact on global business. Read More

Billions of Entrepreneurs in China and India

Entrepreneurship in both China and India is rising dramatically and thriving under quite different conditions. HBS professor Tarun Khanna explains what it all means in this Q&A about his new book, Billions of Entrepreneurs: How China and India Are Reshaping Their Futures and Yours. Plus: book excerpt. Read More

The Rise of Medical Tourism

Medical tourism—traveling far and wide for health care that is often better and certainly cheaper than at home—appeals to patients with complaints ranging from heart ailments to knee pain. Why is India leading in the globalization of medical services? Q&A with Harvard Business School's Tarun Khanna. Read More

Bringing ‘Lean’ Principles to Service Industries

Toyota and other top manufacturing companies have embraced, improved, and profited by lean production methods. But the payoffs have not been nearly as dramatic for service industries applying lean principles. HBS professor David Upton and doctoral student Bradley Staats look at the experience of Indian software services provider Wipro for answers. Read More

Team Familiarity, Role Experience, and Performance:Evidence from Indian Software Services

In contexts ranging from product development to service delivery, a significant amount of an organization's work is conducted by "fluid teams" that strive for innovative output. Fluid project teams exist only for the duration of a single project, and are comprised of members who may join or leave a team during the course of a project. In such settings, simple measures of cumulative output may not accurately capture team experience, particularly when changes in team composition are substantial over time. This study of an Indian software services firm, Wipro Technologies, considers an approach for capturing the experience held by fluid teams. It extends the concept of team fluidity in a way that allows for greater granularity in the measurement of team experience and a finer understanding of the determinants of team performance. Read More

Diasporas and Domestic Entrepreneurs: Evidence from the Indian Software Industry

Several recent studies have highlighted the important role that cross-border ethnic networks might play in facilitating entrepreneurship in developing countries. Little is known, however, about the extent to which domestic entrepreneurs rely on the diaspora and whether this varies systematically by the characteristics of the entrepreneurs or their local business environment. The Indian diaspora is estimated at over 18 million people spanning 130 countries. Given that formal institutions in India remain weak and hence the informal barriers to trade are higher, do diaspora networks serve as substitutes to the functioning of the local business environment? Do they help entrepreneurs to circumvent the barriers to trade arising from imperfect institutions? This study examines the extent to which software entrepreneurs within India vary in their reliance on expatriate networks. Read More

High Hills, Deep Poverty: Explaining Civil War in Nepal

Nepal, the home of Mount Everest, has been gripped in recent years by civil war. A new paper by Harvard Business School professor Lakshmi Iyer and Quy-Toan Do of the World Bank looked at the roots of Nepal's conflict from a variety of angles. For the future, investing in poverty reduction strategies is a key for peace, Iyer says. Read More

Poverty, Social Divisions and Conflict in Nepal

More than 70 civil wars have occurred around the world since 1945. Understanding what causes such violent conflicts to begin and then fester is a topic of increasing research interest to economists. In Nepal the conflict known as "the People's War" began in 1996 and spread to all parts of the country, resulting in the deaths of more than 13,000 people. Do and Iyer considered a wide range of economic and social factors that they hypothesized could affect the likelihood of violent conflict, and econometrically examined their relationship with conflict intensity. These factors include geographic conditions (mountains and forests), economic development, social diversity including linguistic diversity, and government investment in infrastructure. Do and Iyer's nuanced approach allowed them to examine the spread of a single conflict across different parts of the country and over time. Read More

Handicapping the Best Countries for Business

India? South Africa? Russia? Which are the best countries for a firm to invest in? In a new book, Professor Richard Vietor looks at the economic, political, and structural strengths and weaknesses of ten countries and tells readers how to analyze the development of these areas in the future. Read our Q&A and book excerpt. Read More

Tata-Corus: India’s New Steel Giant

By acquiring Anglo-Dutch steel firm Corus, India's Tata Steel is now one of the world's top five steel makers. Professor Tarun Khanna says the fact that the deal is the largest out of India and generated by the private sector makes this a notable event. But now comes the hard part—making the merger work. Can Tata avoid mistakes made by Chinese companies? From The Economic Times/India Times. Read More

India Needs to Encourage Trade with China

Although India and China have increased bilateral trade over the last five years, the amount is far less than what would be expected. Harvard Business School professor Tarun Khanna says India has primarily itself to blame. From The Economic Times. Read More

Managing Governments: Unilever in India and Turkey, 1950–1980

During the postwar decades, consumer-products giant Unilever survived and even thrived in developing countries such as India and Turkey even as business conditions discouraged or drove away peer companies. Why? At least five factors explain Unilever's ability and willingness to persist in such developing countries. These factors may also explain why foreign direct investment shrank to low levels in these countries, and has remained low. Read More

Financial Reporting Goes Global

Globalization is the key issue in determining the future of financial accounting, says professor Gregory S. Miller. And as more countries consider adopting an international accounting standard, India is positioned to be a strong leader. Read More