The research journey for this book began more than fifteen years ago when we were teaching in a Harvard Business School Executive Program, Managing Global Opportunities in China and India. The program targeted Western multinationals and investors interested in business opportunities in the then rapidly growing Chinese market and the newly liberalizing Indian market. In Mumbai, as part of that executive program, we invited Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Sons Limited, to share with the group Tata’s strategy for the new Indian market. We were surprised to see Western executives’ reaction to Tata’s ambitious plans for exploiting the new ambient opportunities. Their experience in Western markets had convinced these executives that emerging market business groups like the Tata’s, consisting of several dozen companies in disparate, seemingly unrelated businesses, were anachronisms, doomed to go the way of the dinosaurs unless they radically restructured and focused on one or two core businesses. The disconnect between how emerging market senior leaders like Ratan Tata and leaders of Western multinationals in our executive program thought about the strategic implication of emerging market opportunities was truly fascinating to us.
The crux of this book is to advance a structural framework for thinking about the nature and extent of differences between emerging markets and mature markets on the one hand, and among emerging markets on the other. That is, the so-called BRIC economies—Brazil, Russia, India, and China—differ from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan on the one hand, but they also differ from each other quite extensively. We specify how. In particular, we articulate a framework to calibrate the differences in soft and hard institutional infrastructure—we refer to the absence in emerging markets of things we take for granted in our backyard in Boston as institutional voids—that permeate emerging markets, and then offer solutions for dealing with these.
Entrepreneurship is not only about hotshots taking companies public. A lot of entrepreneurial activity in these countries is in the exercise of getting things done more efficiently and creatively in response to constraints that people find themselves immersed in. Some of these constraints are societal; some are political.
And so this book is full of stories about social entrepreneurs, political entrepreneurs, and others whom we study in business schools—investors, capitalists, and so on.
The book has been translated in several languages including Arabic, Brazilian, Portuguese, Indonesian, Korean, Portuguese, Turkish, and Vietnamese: