The Grey Chronicles

2008.July.28

Indianeering: A New Management Tool in Manufacturing


Great thinkers from modern America, enlightened Europe, ancient China, and emerging Japan, contributed concepts and new technology to help management. For centuries, Americans led most of the management paradigm shifts, from Frederick Winslow Taylor’s “Scientific Management” to Michael Porter’s “Competitive Advantage”. In Europe, as early 1860’s, Sir Dudley North proposed a program of mass production while Henry Fayol suggested an enterprise organized by functional structure headed by a chief executive. In ancient China, Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” became the cornerstone of combat management; which some enterprising American applied to corporate management in the 1990s. In contemporary times, Japan’s Taiichi Ohno introduced to the world “The Toyota Production System”.

Being an innovative race, not to be outdone by its archrival[1], Indians expats introduced a breakthrough: “Indianeering”, an amalgamation of engineering [science], management [art] and reasoning [logic]. This school of thought, moreover, might run counter to Arindam Chaudhuri’s proposed Theory “i” Management.

Engineering, according to Webster [2] is the science concerned with putting scientific knowledge to practical uses, divided into different branches, as civil, electrical, mechanical, and chemical engineering. Engineering, being based on science, thus becomes a great tool for managers.

Management, as popular textbooks define, is the art of leading, organizing, planning, controlling. Production and operations management[3], moreover, represents a blend of concepts from industrial engineering, cost accounting, general management, quantitative methods, and statistics, applied to both manufacturing and service organizations.

Logic comes into picture because most Indians, especially managerial expats, love to pick an argument, however insignificant, as if that by doing that, something is being done. Unfortunately, an Indian manager’s undoing might be his own natural inclination to over-intellectualize thus spends more time on excessive discourse rather than immediately act on the issues at hand. Added to the mix is his prolonged exposure to class, gender and caste[4] or the “hierarchy-consciousness-effect”. Popular belief states that India is the land of religions, the country of uncritical faiths and unquestioned practices; thus openness for most Indians is no virtue. In consequence, many Westerners find Indians [5], although stereotypically, speaking with forked tongues.


Notes:

[1] Gregson, Jonathan (2008) “The Elephant and the Dragon, ” Global Finance, Vol. 22,No.5, May 2008. pp. 20-24. This article discusses the current trend of the often uneasy neighbors and fierce competitors, India and China, finding ways to cooperate as their influence on the globaleconomy grows. back to text

2 Neufeldt, Victoria and David B. Guralink [eds.] (1988). Webster’s New World Dictionary of American English. New York: Webster’s, 1988. p. 450. back to text

3 Stevenson, William J. (1990). Production/Operations Management 3rd ed. New York: Richard D. Irwin/Toppan, 1990. p. v. back to text

[4] Sen, Amartya (2004) The Argumenative Indian, 15 August 2004. A collection of 16 essays written over the last decade on the long history of the argumentative tradition in India, its contemporary relevance, and its relative neglect in ongoing cultural discussions. p. 207 back to text

[5] Gopalakrishnan, R (2002) “If only India knew what Indians know”, Indian Management April 2002. An article written by an executive director of Tata Sons, wrote “Indian manager thinks in the Western idiom, but follows the Eastern pattern in his behaviour.” back to text

Taylor, Frederick Winslow (1916). The Principles of Scientific Management. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1916. back to text

Porter, Michael E. (1984) Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance. New York: The Free Press, 1984. back to text

North, Dudley (1862), Considerations Upon the East-India Trade proposed the elimination of unnecessary confusion using advanced planning and definitive job assignments to different artisans of dfferent skills and talents. back to text

Ohno, Taiichi (1978) The Toyota Production System emphasized on holding down inventories and stresses quality control. back to text

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