‘The focus is to bridge gap between industry & academia’

Jaideep Prabhu, professor at Imperial College, London, was recently appointed as chair of the Jawaharlal Nehru professorship of Indian Business and Enterprise at Cambridge University. The chair was set up by the Indian government with funds of £3.2 million. Prabhu, an IIT-Delhi graduate, spoke to Surbhi Bhatia about his research plans:

What will be the focus of your research?
The Indian economy is recording a consistent 8-9 per cent growth, FDI inflows are expanding rapidly and now it is the second fastest growing economy in the world. Indian businesses have a major role to play in this growth. The team of experts, scholars and industry people would be evaluating how Indian businesses have benefited from globalisation and how in turn globalisation has affected Indian businesses.

The research will be done on three levels. At the first level, we would investigate how foreign companies have established themselves in India carrying out innovations. IBM is an example of a big firm, but there are many small foreign companies involved in R&D work. At another level, we would see how Indian companies are innovating and making an impact in the world economy. Invention of Nano by
Tatas is an example. Many small and medium enterprises in India are also innovating. And at the third level, we would look at the bottom of the pyramid to investigate how innovation is influencing rural India. For instance, mobile phones. find out ways to bridge the gap between industry and academicians. Universities are the biggest source for providing innovative ideas. A lot of companies have realised the importance of tapping this talent pool but do not know the ways.
Is the research work going to be any different from that carried out in Indian B-schools?
Several Indian B-schools are involved in systematic research on Indian businesses. IIMs have provided cutting-edge research on how Indian businesses operate in the Indian context. But the objective of this professorship is to help forge India’s place in the global economy. It will be done by reflecting important roles that Indian businesses have played in contributing to global economic growth. Indian pharma sector, for example, has moved up the value chain and contributed to the world.
Another focus area would be to

How do you plan to take your findings to the world?
The Cambridge Centre for Indian Business (that was also established with the professorship at Cambridge University’s Judge Business School) will be used to disseminate research findings, organising workshops and increasing engagement between academics, businesses, policymakers and communities in India, the UK and other places. Professors and PhD scholars already doing research in these areas at Cambridge and at the Indian B-schools will be involved in the process. We will also get support from IIM-Bangalore,IIM-Ahmedabad and the Indian Institute of Science.


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