This collection of articles brings a refreshingly alternative view to traditional management perspectives, which are largely shaped by the experiences of western practitioners. It synthesises Western and Eastern thinking on management and projects a new, holistic approach to the subject based on spirituality, a perspective which can be India's special contribution in this field.
This is an important contribution to understanding the hard discipline of management in the light of Sri Aurobindonean spirituality. The author of this book Pravir Malik, himself a distinguished management consultant, now offers new approaches to study the ethics of business practices.
Supported by the statement of some of the leaders in the field such as Ratan Tata and Dharani Sinha, the volume carries a valuable foreword by Dr. Karan Singh.
Divided into three sections: "the possibility", "the imperative" and "the future", the book attempts to map out imaginative ways spiritual insights regarding the human personality can be used in order to optimise corporate returns and goals.
The first part provides the necessary background. It brings in approaches such as the Asian resurgence, the role of the corporation, the role of India and finally, east-west synthesis.
Similarly, the next section deals with issues such as the new management framework, micro trends in management, the digital economy and leadership development for the digital economy.
Section three attempts a futuristic study of management, focussing attention on the following: business for the new millennium, making quantum based prediction, towards quantum based reality, redefining profit and the new management paradigm.
The significance of this book lies in the fact that much of its contents are based on the experiments the author carried out on scientific lines in the corporate field. Malik's results are notably in consonance with some of the new developments in the field, exemplified in the writings of management Gurus including its popular variants such as Deepak Chopra in America.
Malik contends that "ten core groups and a total of twenty core skills form the basis for all effective behaviour." He suggests that "a broad based effective and repeatable leadership model which adequately equips individuals and organizations with the means to develop the higher caliber of leadership is required." Similarly, he argues convincingly that although business exists to make money, making money is the result of business and not its goal or purpose. In other words, he says, "a company which has helped to develop the possibilities in man will have a higher chance of success." This is indeed the meaning, one might say, behind the present day emphasis on customer satisfaction and employees' empowerment.
Malik then goes on to underline a series of crippling limitations that business often imposes upon itself. Success for the company, he argues, depends on the extent to which it can "explicitly address these limitations in a systematic manner".
I believe it is chapter four, "redefining profit" that deserves a closer look by all of us, and especially managers. Simply defined, profit is the difference between "the revenue a corporation generates and its costs." It is in this chapter that the author shows that in today's mad scramble for profit, companies everywhere take recourse to superficial means that rely on quantitative approaches such as the number of man-hours spent on a given project rather than the quality of the work rendered. As he rightly concludes, "the pressure to perform, to out-do, to conquer and to devour...must inevitably result in dissatisfaction" and negativities such as anger, resentment, envy and politicking.
The answer clearly is for the manager to place his/her loyalty to the inner principle that can have an integrating effect upon all our management practices. Thereby business will serve a higher goal than just the plunder of valuable earthly resources for personal and corporate greed. It will not generate mutually conflicting decisions but optimise harmony with productivity so that in a win-win situation, "combined strengths, perceptions and forces of being can join to create a more organic and embodying solution."
I believe, Malik's account could have acquired a larger dimension if he had brought in some of the achievements of the western managerial practices. Although the dichotomies between the east and the west may be a useful conceptual tool, it could also be fruitful to see the way the so-called adversarial positions could complement each other. For instance, even in the capitalistic west, secular philanthropy in the form of foundations such as the Ford, the Rockefeller or Carnegie Mellon are commitments to larger communitarian goals. Practices unfortunately and abysmally absent in the Indian business world, barring of course a few units such as the isolated Tata Trust. To what extent does such a commitment bring in Malik's own prescription for taking business management beyond the pale of private profiteering? I believe, this is one area where Indian business can learn from the western model.
Secondly, Malik seems to assume in his book an audience already familiar with the Sri Aurobindonean framework and vocabulary. It seems to me that for carrying his thesis to a larger constituency, he could finetune and suitably integrate the Sri Aurobindonean vision into a cross-disciplinary framework beyond the field of management alone. That way his project will have a greater intellectual rigour and academic appeal.
On the whole however, India's Contribution to Management is a highly readable and timely publication. It is a valuable addition to the emerging discipline of new approaches to management studies. The Sri Aurobindo Society deserves thanks for undertaking this publication. The book should reach the hands of all managers, corporate or otherwise.
— Dr. Sachidanada Mohanty