Sumantra Ghoshal

Sumantra Ghoshal bigraphy, stories - Indian educator

Sumantra Ghoshal : biography

26 September 1948 – 3 March 2004

Sumantra Ghoshal (1948–2004) was an academic in the field of management. He was the founding Dean of the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad.

Ghoshal co-authored Managing Across Borders: The Transnational Solution , with Christopher A. Bartlett, which has been listed in the Financial Times as one of the 50 most influential management books and has been translated into nine languages.

Early life

Ghoshal was born in Calcutta.

He graduated from Delhi University with Physics major and at the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management Accessed 10 April 2009. and worked for Indian Oil Corporation, rising through the management ranks before moving to the United States on a Fulbright Fellowship and Humphrey Fellowship in 1981. Ghoshal was awarded an S.M. and a PhD from the MIT Sloan School of Management in 1983 and 1985 respectively, and was also awarded a D.B.A. degree from Harvard Business School in 1986. He worked on these degrees at the same time, writing two distinct dissertations on two different topics


In 1985, he joined INSEAD Business School in France and wrote a stream of influential articles and books. In 1994, he joined the London Business School. Ghoshal was a Fellow of the Advanced Institute of Management Research (AIM) in the U.K and a Professor of Strategic and International Management at the London Business School. He served as a member of The Committee of Overseers of the Harvard Business School. Accessed 7 April 2007.

Ghoshal’s legacy

Ghoshal’s early work focused on the matrix structure in multinational organizations, and the "conflict and confusion" that reporting along both geographical and functional lines created. His later work is more ambitious, and hence perhaps more important – the idea that it is necessary to halt economics from taking over management. This, he theorised, is important since firms do not play on the periphery of human life today, but have taken a central role.

His treatment of management issues at the level of the individual led him to conclude that management theory that focuses on the economic aspects of man to the exclusion of all others is incorrect at best. According to him, "A theory that assumes that managers cannot be relied upon by shareholders can make managers less reliable."

Such theory, he warned, would become a self-fulfilling prophecy, a particularly stinging critique of the output of a majority of his colleagues in business schools that made him controversial. To his death, his fight was against the "narrow idea" that led to today’s management theory being "undersocialised and one-dimensional, a parody of the human condition more appropriate to a prison or a madhouse than an institution which should be a force for good."

Forms of the international enterprise

In co-operation with Christopher A. Bartlett, Ghoshal researched successful enterprises on international markets. They found three types of internationalization, differing in structural approach and strategic capabilities. The types were dubbed Multinational, Global and International.

Multinational Enterprise Global Enterprise International Enterprise
Strategic competency responsiveness efficiency i.e. output per unit of input transfer of learning
Structures loose federations of enterprises; national subsidiaries solve all operative tasks and some strategical. tightly centralized enterprise; national subsidiaries primarily seen as distribution centres; all strategic and many operative decisions centralized Somewhere in between multinational and global enterprises; some strategic areas centralized, some decentralized
Samples Unilever, ITT Exxon, Toyota IBM, Ericsson

Due to an ever faster changing environment, Bartlett and Ghoshal see a further need for adaptation with a drive toward a company, that masters not one, but all three of the strategic capabilities of the named types. The ideal-type thus created, they dubbed the transnational enterprise.

Also with Bartlett in 1997, Ghoshal set up a management context and individual behavior model highlighting a context shaped by stretch, trust, support and discipline. They identified that kind of context as a cornerstone that elicits behaviours of the individual which contribute to an organisation’s self-renewal, allowing the organisation to be vigorous and energetic.

Personal life

Ghoshal married Sushmita and they had two sons.

He died of a brain hemorrhage.


His last book, Managing Radical Change, won the Management Book of the Year award in India.

He ranks 40th on the list of Top 50 business intellectuals published by the Accenture consulting company in 2002., Accenture news release of 22 May 2002