Thursday, November 02, 2006

Speech at IIM Kolkata on 2 November

The topic of my talk was "Business and management culture of Latin America". I traced the evolution of this to the history of the conquest and colonisation by Spanish. While in north america the business precept was " consumer is king" , in latin America it was the other way," "King was the consumer". The king asked the colonisers to get him the gold and silver and let them do what they wanted. While the common law in north america laid the foundation for sound business culture, the civil law of Latamerica gave rise to Sociedad Anonymo companies which depended on trustnot on the legal sanctity of contract. The rule of men( as against rule of law) and the Latam approach of " justice to friends and law to enemies" did not help in providing a solid base for business culture of the region. Later the uncertainties of hyperinflation, debt and currency fluctuations also gave rise to the culture of making fast bucks. But now the business culture has undergone a fundamental transformation with the paradigm shift of the region politically, economically and culturally.

I talked about the "manana" culture and magical realism of Latamerica which have also influenced the management culture. There are, of course ,variations of bz and management culture depending upon the country, region ( Rio and sao paulo- so different) altitude( hill people different from the costenos), and ethnic groups ( lebanese, japanese, germans, italians...)

In my meetings with the Director, Dean and Prof Abraham( who has come back from trip to Latamerica),they showed interest in student exchanges, faculty and research cooperation and organising India programmes in Latin America and vice versa. These exchanges would add a business management dimension to the growing relations between India and Latin america. They remembered an alumni , Rakesh vaidyanathan,who is in Brazil in the business of promoting business between India and latin America.

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