Decolonizing Management Knowledge in India: Promoting Pluri-versalism through Indigenous Knowledge Paradigms

Panel Discussion: Indigenous Indian Management (contd.)
Indian Academy of Management 2023

Decolonizing Management Knowledge in India: Promoting Pluri-versalism through indigenous knowledge

Wednesday, February 15, 2023, 1000AM-1200PM IST, Online mode

Zoom link: To be shared upon prior registration. Register here.

International Humanistic Management Association (IHMA)
Management Center for Human Values (MCHV), IIM Calcutta

This is an extension of the conversation that began at the Indian Academy of Management 2023 conference
on January 8, 2023 at NMIMS, Mumbai. The video recording of the previous discussion can be accessed
here .

Description: There is increasing acceptance that contemporary management knowledge, influenced by
post-enlightenment ontological and epistemological assumptions, is Euro/US-centric. Scholars from
Europe (and USA) and many others across the world believe in the universality of theoretical frameworks
and research methods developed in the West, and hence much of research in management in other contexts
is based on the extent to which the observed phenomena match (or differ) with the phenomena in the West.
This tendency was visible during colonial times with the spread of European colonialism and continues in
contemporary times through neo-colonial practices of the West, primarily the US. There have been calls by
some for promoting pluri-versality which does not mean rejection of the Eurocentric theories and methods,
but encouraging alternative theories and methods based on the world views and experiences of non-European/US contexts.

This will provide better understanding of phenomena in non-West contexts but will
also throw new light on Western phenomena and theories.
In the first round, each panelist shared their individual quests and journey in their trailblazing attempts at
creating indigenous knowledge paradigms and pursuing pluri-versalism in their research philosophy.
Broadly, they were in agreement on the need for context specific theorization that accounts for the historical
and cultural moorings of the Indian setting and of Indian scholars. Prof. Ojha argued that there is a need to
guard against accepting simplistic perspectives from the Occident to understand or explain complex
phenomena, such as the caste system, in the Orient. Prof. Mahadevan introduced the audience to the vast
knowledge alerady existing in ancient Indian knowledge systems based on his book. Prof. Bhawuk
enunciated a way to create constructs and models from scriptural texts. Prof. Gupta shared fundamental
arguments on why the Indian context and worldviews may call for indigenous management thought. The
panelists were broadly in agreement on the need for a discussion of indigeneity, the audience seemed
motivated to do so, and structural solutions were sought by Prof. Pandey, but the conversation seemed
unfinished. Many questions raised remain unanswered, especially in relation to Prof. Gupta and Prof.
Bhawuk’s presentations, and hence we feel the need for another round of discussion.
Following on from the questions raised by some in the audience, Dr. Nidhi Srinivas (2021: 137) presents a
critical perspective on indigenous management, that it “reminds us of the ways that management knowledge
accommodates to power structures, even when claiming to offer a form of resistance”. He brings to our
discussion an engagement with questions of knowledge and power in management history. Dr. Benito
Teehankee examines culturally sensitive leadership in the Filipino setting as his initial work in indigenous
management thought, the challenges and prospects facing indigenization in the Philippines, and how the
journey of Filipino indigenous management scholarship may be worthwhile as a comparative. Prof. Pandey
would present on ‘Conceptualization and Empirical Inquiry in Indigenous Indian Management Research’.
He plans to share the experience of his team on developing context sensitive Indian constructs and carrying
out qualitative and quantitative research; and about the response from leading journals and things which
worked in order to publish this kind of research in international journals. During the panelists’ discussion,
we will also take the opportunity to expand the notion of indigenous knowledge to go beyond ancient Indian
texts as sources, and examine real examples of management models that actually are being created grounds
up in the present day India and emerging organically from the historical, political and cultural specificities
of the locale, inspiring indigenous theory building.

Panelist #1: Dr. Nidhi Srinivas, Associate Professor of Management at the New School, New York City

Panelist #2: Dr. Rajen K. Gupta, Prof.(Retd.) IIM Lucknow and MDI Gurugram

Panelist #3: Dr. Benito Teehankee, Cuisia Professor of Business Ethics and Head of the Business for
Human Development Network of the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business, De La Salle University
in Manila, Philippines.

Panelist #4: Dr. Dharm P. S. Bhawuk, Professor of Management and Culture and Community Psychology,
University of Hawai’i at Manoa, USA

Panelist #5: Dr. Ashish Pandey, Associate Professor, Shailesh J. Mehta School of Management, I.I.T.
Bombay, Powai, Mumbai

Dr. Abhoy K. Ojha, Professor (OB&HRM), IIM Bangalore.
Dr. Mahadevan, B. Professor (Operations Manageement), IIM Bangalore

Chair/Moderator: Dr. Ramya Venkateswaran, Associate Professor (Strategic Management), Indian
Institute of Management Calcutta.

Profiles of the speakers

Panelist #1: Prof. Nidhi Srinivas is Associate Professor of Management at the New School. His research
engages with critical theory through a variety of topics, including management history, civic design,
international development and ecological politics. His research has been published in Organization Studies,
Non-profit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Management and Organizational History, and included in the
Organization Editors’ Picks: Postcolonialism and Voices from the South. He has been an Erasmus Mundus
research fellow at Roskilde University, Denmark, a BRICS research fellow at the BRICS Policy Institute
in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, an India-China Institute research fellow, and served as a visiting professor in
universities in Brazil, India, and Japan. His paper on false binaries between modernity and post modernity
in management history is available in the references.

Panelist #2: Refer page 10 for Dr. Rajen K. Gupta’s profile. Prof. Gupta to continue from the round#1

Panelist #3: Dr. Benito L. Teehankee is Cuisia Professor of Business Ethics and Head of the Business for
Human Development Network of the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business, De La Salle University
in Manila, Philippines. He led the adoption of critical realist action research as the core approach in the
university’s MBA program. He has presented on critical realism in the Academy of Management Annual
Meeting. He wrote, with Tim Rogers, “Critical realism: A philosophy of science for responsible business
and management research” in Responsible Research for Better Business edited by M. Thompson and L.
Zsolnai under Palgrave Macmillan in 2020. His book chapter on culturally sensitive leadership in the
Philippine settings is available in the references.

Panelist #4: Refer page 11 for Dr. Dharm P. S. Bhawuk’s profile. Prof. Bhawuk to continue from the
round #1 conversation.

Panelist #5: Refer page 12 for Dr. Ashish Pandey’s profile.
Commentators and moderator: Refer pages 8-12 for Dr. Abhoy Ojha and Dr. B Mahadevan’s profiles.

Duration: 2 hours

Format of the panel:

  1. Introduction to the topic and panelists: 5 mins
  2. Each panelist presents their views for 15 minutes (5 panelists x 15 minutes each)
  3. Q&A and discussion with the audience: 10 mins
  4. Discussion among the panelists and conclusion: 30 mins
    Publication potential:
    A synopsis of the panel discussion, including intent of the discussion as intended by the Chairs/moderators,
    the contributions of the panelists, questions and comments from the audience and responses of the panelists
    is considered to be published in the journal DECISION (IIMC Journal).
    Further articles shall be invited through a call for papers on this topic for consideration for publication in
    the journal.