What does the name Tata mean to you? Many people are familiar with Tata Motors' purchase of Jaguar Land Rover in 2008 and the launch of the world's cheapest car, the Tata Nano, a year later. But business commentators are watching the [pounds sterling]45.8bn conglomerate with growing interest because, to all intents and purposes, it seems too good to be true.
The Indian company has enjoyed remarkable success, but at the same time it has held on to its founding credo of ploughing money back into the community--it is profitable and has a social conscience. Some critics have argued that its generosity is unrealistic and that something will have to give as the group's operations become increasingly international. But the global recession has prompted many more people to question the Western business model and its potentially ruinous preoccupation with short-term profits. Businesses in Asia have generally avoided the worst ravages of the downturn, so could it be time to look eastward for cases of more robust, sustainable business models? Could we even combine best practice from East and West to create an entirely new way of doing business that is both financially sustainable and socially responsible?
With this in mind, CIMA has launched a project to study the strengths and weaknesses of business practices in both regions. The aim is to explore the key differences in approach and help corporate leaders to extract the best from both worlds.
This subject is of great interest to me. My work as a management consultant has taken me to many countries and it's been fascinating to see how methods differ from continent to continent. The research provides an ideal foundation for considering a new, more balanced way to do business.
The Asian model places particular emphasis on trust and relationships. This can create benefits for stakeholders and, in particular, nurtures a more benevolent approach. But this system is comparatively...