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Business leadership in India: an example from print media
Article Type: Business leadership in India: an example from print media From: International Journal of Public Sector Management, Volume 25, Issue 1
Historically, India has been the seat of civilisation, either in the form of Indus valley civilisation, or for setting up highly advanced educational systems offered by the ancient universities of Nalanda, Patliputra, Takshashila, and others. Leaders from India have received great attention from the world in diverse areas. With the globalisation of business and the whole world more or less acting as an integrated system, it is imperative to look into what constitutes a typical Indian leader, both from corporate and from not-for-profit perspectives.
India has one of the oldest and largest circulations and readership of print media in the world. With population of a billion plus and an increasing literacy rate, the media in general have a potential to reaping huge financial rewards. Media, news and entertainment are turning into big business, with a fast-emerging middle class population which is increasingly quality-conscious.
This research paper also features an interview with Chandan Mitra, Editor and Managing Director of The Pioneer newspaper in Delhi. Founded by George Allen in 1864, Rudyard Kipling and Winston Churchill have written for The Pioneer. Today, the organization is a medium-sized English language newspaper in India and is published out of multiple locations. It also runs the Pioneer Media School for training potential journalists of tomorrow. The Pioneer Group now runs Namaskaar, the inflight magazine of Air India international, and Exotica, the in-room magazine for several leading hotel chains of India such as the Taj Group, ITC-Maurya, Hyatt, Lalit Inter-Continental, etc.
This study was initiated to explore the entrepreneurial and leadership behaviours of top leaders and attempts to find out the key leader behaviours that are vital to businesses. In the longer term it would also help to identify what leader behaviours are important in different countries and in different settings, as what might “click” in India may not “click” elsewhere. The results obtained from this research will shed some light on how Dr Mitra steered The Pioneer to success using various leadership skills under difficult situations during its initial years of inception.
2. Literature review: leadership, culture and teams
Interest in studying Indian businesses is quite recent (Gupta et al., 2005; Prabhakar, 2008; Prabhakar, 2009; Sharma, 2000 and Veliyath, 2004), and there is a great scope and need for research into this field. In the light of the growing globalisation of business operations, the necessity for a greater awareness of leadership of Indian organisations arises. Given that an effective leadership is essential to the success of any international project, the internationalisation of business operations creates various operational and leadership challenges (House et al., 2004).
Many Indian companies nowadays are using multinational project teams through joint ventures, global project development teams, etc. The firms should therefore be aware of the ways of remodelling and improving multicultural project team management (Snow et al., 1996). If the project managers are to realise the possible benefits from culturally diverse project teams, all team members must be taught how to appreciate cultural differences fully and to be able to communicate in an effective manner while overcoming cultural barriers. Hofstede (1983) tried to link his cultural dimensions with project management and suggested that the main factor contributing to the success of a multicultural project team is cultural sensitivity and the consciousness of the cultural disparities through the understanding of the differences in “mental programming” that are present within a multicultural team.
Sense (2007) carried out a qualitative theoretical discussion and grounded theory building using a quantitative model developed from a previous study in this inductive and interpretive paper. The model is based on an in-depth, longitudinal case study. The paper is authentic, plausible, original and credible.
Business culture is chiefly influenced by the process of integration, as national boundaries have become less important for companies. This has created a potentially huge market of consumers and has produced a high volume of cross-border mergers, with many multinational enterprises enjoying a worldwide market share and economies of scale. Due to its importance and complexity, therefore, cross-cultural leadership – and by extension project leadership – is becoming a legitimate field of research in its own right. Cultural diversity, communication and building trust appear to be main obstacles affecting the performance of multicultural project team. With regards to diversity, it is proven to have both positive and negative effects on team performance. It can provide the team with a variety of different perspectives when it comes to problem solving. It can also fuel conflicts and communication breakdowns as well as lead to mistrust.
The idea of a global research program concerned with leadership and organisation practices (form and processes) was conceived by Robert J. House (1971). House’s (1971) landmark paper critically reviewed existing empirical evidence using his (then) new path-goal theory in order to reconcile findings. The paper was positivist, deductive and quantitative in nature. It is reliable, as two sets of the findings were replicated, and can be generalised, as it used large samples and did not focus on a specific industry. However, conservative, weak tests were carried out and some findings were inferred from stereotypes and situational context. It was a cross-sectional survey so cannot establish causal relationships among variables, and thus more direct testing was needed. House (1971) developed the path-goal theory of motivation to bring together and assimilate earlier, unreliable findings on leader effectiveness. This is a contingency theory model that concentrates on the methods used to manage followers’ expectations through an emphasis on behaviour and the environment. The leader will attempt to raise performance and motivation levels through satisfying followers’ expectations. Progressing contingency theory further, Thamhain (2004) carried out a study on technical-intensive industries and found that in this type of highly competitive, dynamic industry effective team leaders need to understand and manage organizational and behavioural variables, whilst encouraging active participation, accountability and result orientation in staff. An example of this would be the provision of a professionally stimulating environment, which would require a leader to work with senior management to achieve a suitable organizational atmosphere to underpin this. This ability would require great skill on the part of the team leader and would require support from top management in order to succeed. Transformational leaders develop relationships with the project team members by the use of interactive contacts and creating cultural connection to achieve set goals. As summarised by Prabhakar (2005): “Good leaders do inspire confidence in themselves, but a truly great leader inspires confidence within the people they lead to exceed their normal performance level”.
Leadership needs to be flexible and adaptive. Dickson et al.’s (2003) contribution to the GLOBE study makes a strong case against the existence of universal leadership principles. During their review of cross-cultural leadership, they noted the existence of many different leadership styles, practices and preferences. Dickson et al. (2003) review existing literature using interpretive, inductive and constructivist methodologies. They use qualitative research from secondary sources for their theoretical analysis, but no empirical evidence. However, they cite a large number of theorists and used a varied group of subjects, making their arguments sound very plausible.
Mäkilouko’s (2004) study of Finnish-Chinese, Finnish-European and Finnish-American teams established that there were actually three leadership styles within these multicultural teams – i.e. polycentric, synergistic and ethnocentric – which were placed on a scale of relationship-orientated to task-orientated leaders respectively. He found that polycentric leaders had less difficulty, as they tended to resolve problems before forming their multicultural teams, and that relationship-orientated leaders enjoyed greater potential for success than task-orientated leaders. He noted that power and influence were important in the creation and maintenance of multicultural teams and that organisational design can be used to increase a leader’s power in this respect.
Prabhakar (2005) built hypotheses on the existing literature in a positivist, multi-phased and inductive paper. He used mixed methods in the functionalist paradigm. Validity and generalisability is high due to the large number of countries and participants studied. He also cited many theorists and gave balanced responses that are relevant today. However, this was a subjective evaluation done by participants, so there was potential for bias and error in recalling events in the past. Prabhakar (2005) investigated various leadership styles and tried to connect those approaches to the success of a project regardless of business type, funds, culture or geographic dispersion. In his research, he attempted to tackle issues such as the types of leadership that produce high project performance and the motion of switching between different leadership styles and its effect on the success of the project. The research was based on 153 projects across 28 countries. The study corresponded to multicultural and multidisciplinary settings. Prabhakar (2005) defines switch leadership as the skill of changing leadership styles from one to another in order to increase project performance. The author proves that by the project manager switching his or her leadership style from autocratic and task-oriented to more consultative and people-centred, projects achieve higher performance levels. However, leaders prefer to adopt an autocratic leadership style. Furthermore, there appears to be a link between transformational leadership and the success of the project, where the leader is a constructive and encouraging member of the project team and respectful towards individuals.
To conclude, leadership styles fall into two categories:
intrinsic and insular; and
those that look outwards and are more integrating and universal.
Power and influence are needed to establish and strengthen a leader’s position, to acquire and retain resources, to make changes, and to provide an environment that is conducive to learning within a multi-cultural project or team.
3. An interview with Chandan Mitra, Editor and Managing Director of The Pioneer newspaper
Q. Please tell us in five-ten minutes about your education and career so far
A. I came into journalism only in 1984. Before that I was in Calcutta [now Kolkata]. I did my schooling in La Martiniere Boys’ in Calcutta. This was a slightly disturbed phase in Bengal due to the Naxalite movement. I was in the 1971 batch of school certificate. Due to disturbance in Calcutta in those days, my father thought it prudent to send me to Delhi. I did well in my exams and got admission in St Stephen’s college, where I studied economics for three years. But I didn’t quite enjoy the subject.
Q. Economics, a subject as it is taught or in general?
A. I think I had a more literary and analytical mind and I found economics to be dry. Anyway, I did my degree with good first class. But I decided to switch. I took History in Master’s, and did exceptionally well. In fact, if we consider the percentage system of marking which no longer exists, I still hold the university record [for the highest percentage of marks]. It was very satisfying and surprising.
Q. Why history?
A. At one stage I had the idea of writing the Civil Services exams, which was a national obsession at that point of time. Everyone who studied in St Stephen’s college was expected to take a shot. I was not enamoured but at that point of time I didn’t have a definite goal. So, when I found economics not suiting me, history automatically fitted in. But while studying history, I gave up the idea. I thought I liked history very much and I would go in for teaching. So, I got a job. I taught Far Eastern history, China in particular in the Delhi University.
Q. Did you have a Marxist leaning at that time?
A. Oh yes. I must admit I did have a Marxist leaning at that time. I was an activist in the teachers’ movement in Delhi University. I was elected in the DUTA (Delhi University Teachers’ Association) committee and was the Convenor of the DU Teacher’s Forum, which was formed with teachers with Marxist leanings. But I have come a long way from that ideological persuasion since. In those formative years Marxism gave me a holistic perspective on certain things. I’m glad for that, and I’m equally glad that I divorced myself from it. In 1979, I applied for the Commonwealth Fellowships. I was selected and studied in Oxford University for my doctorate. I did my thesis on peasant mobilization and nationalist movement in Eastern UP and Bihar [Indian states] from 1937 to 1942. At that point of time they didn’t allow post-independence India as a subject of History. It was interesting to study Indian history in England because of the resources that are well preserved in India Office library, London and Bodleian Library in Oxford. These resources are there in India but they are scattered. One has to say that our erstwhile colonial masters were very meticulous in maintaining records. Therefore, it really helped. I managed to finish my thesis in three years and got my doctorate. I returned to India in the January of 1984. At that time I found that despite my good academic record, there weren’t too many good jobs for me in the country. But I wanted to stay in Delhi. I had studied here and all my friends were here. So, I didn’t want to explore other places. So, given that scenario I started looking for other options. I sent a few letters to various newspapers; that was because while I was at Oxford, I did some part-time job at BBC. I started as an outside-contributor, a translator and a broadcaster. That was for BBC’s Bengali service. They liked my work, so I started getting work from the Hindi, and eventually from the English service as well, which involved writing scripts, for the BBC World. Some of my bosses there in Bush House told me that I should give journalism a shot. They would have thought of absorbing me. But I had to get back to India. At no stage I had entertained any thought of settling abroad. So, with that thought there in my mind, I sent letters to the newspapers. Only one of them replied, it was Statesman of Calcutta; Mr C.R. Irani replied saying you’re the kind of guy we’re looking for and next time you’re in India, do come and see me. I was back in India for a short while in 1983, when I met him. He said “Okay, finish off your doctorate and you have a job”. But Calcutta was not my first choice because I felt that the news capital of the country was Delhi. But it was a very good break and I decided to go to Calcutta. I was inducted laterally as an Assistant Editor, which was unusual at that time. One had to roll through different levels to reach there. I was there for three years and was happy. It was just my urge to be in the midst of action that prompted me to look around. I was offered a job by Mr Girilal Jain at Times of India, which was expanding in a big way at that time. I joined there as an Assistant Editor in 1987. I was there for three years and rose to the post of Associate Editor. I was looking into political affairs, but they wanted me to understand production, branding, etc., which has been helpful for me in handling The Pioneer. Mr Sameer Jain believed that journalists should be exposed to management and vice versa. I was enjoying my stint in Times of India, but in the meantime, Ambanis bought over the Sunday Observer, they wanted to bring out a daily and completely revamp the Sunday product. So, I was offered the job of the Editor of Sunday Observer. It was challenging and gratifying-barely six years into the profession and the job of the editor coming my way. So, I left the Times of India and joined Sunday Observer. I was happy there too, but thought the job wasn’t giving me enough opportunities of growth. It took some months to revamp, another year to settle things and then I thought I was just cruising. It wasn’t that exciting any more. At that point I got an offer from Hindustan Times to handle their news operations. It was a good offer. Hindustan Times was Delhi’s largest paper and had enormous potential to do well. I joined as Associate Editor and within a year became the Executive Editor, who is responsible for the entire news operations of the paper. The paper was 24 pages then, and it was said that the Executive Editor was the editor of 23 pages and the Editor was the editor of one page that is editorial, which was actually the case. It was also a very rewarding experience.
Q. Wasn’t that the time when TOI (The Times of India) was beginning to kind of eat up into HT’s (Hindustan Times) reader base and HT had to do some rearguard action?
A. Towards the end of my stint in HT (Hindustan Times), The Times of India reduced its price from Rs2.50 to Rs1.50 per edition, opening a can of worms and misbalancing equations. Times of India also launched its various supplements and we in Hindustan Times eventually had to respond.
Q. How do you react to TOI’s philosophy of a newspaper being a product?
A. Newspaper is a product, but it’s not only a product. It has a soul, it’s animate. It’s almost something you talk to first in the morning. But one has to understand that a newspaper is a product, it has to be sold in the market, and therefore, commercial considerations have to be kept in view. I have heard people say that newspapers are a social service. I’ve heard former Chairman of the Press Council of India Justice P.B. Sawant say this and I interrupted him. It costs money to print a newspaper, in giving salaries and maintaining the office. So, I was very much a part of the contest between the TOI and HT. We launched Infotainment to counter E-Times of TOI, we (HT) launched Metropolitan to counter Delhi Times (of TOI).
By that time in 1995 Mr L.M. Thapar who owned The Pioneer for more than six years by then wanted to give it a complete makeover and wanted to launch an all-India brand. He persuaded me to leave HT where I had perhaps the best innings as a journalist. But Mr Thapar was very keen that I should take charge of The Pioneer. He told me that technology had changed so much, so it was possible to bring wire editions. He also wanted The Pioneer to come out from 5-6 centres across the country. He was a visionary and had very good plans. So, I left HT to take charge of The Pioneer only for the challenge of rebuilding a paper. But things didn’t work out exactly the way Mr Thapar had hoped. The parent company Ballarpur Industries (BILT) got into severe financial crunch at that stage. By January of 1998, I was called by the Thapars and told that they had decided to close down the paper. By mid-1997, I was mentally prepared for this and I had already started negotiating with one or two potential buyers. So, they told me that we should collectively look for a buyer to save the institution. But the time was short. In April (of 1998) I was told that since none of us had been able to find a buyer, it had to be closed down. But I was confident that we would find a buyer. Then I took a decision that straddles the borderline between bravado and foolhardiness. I told the Thapars that I was prepared to take it over. I was emotional with the organisation and wanted to save 146 years old institution at that time. A model was worked out in which I just took the brand, The Pioneer, for a nominal amount of money and took over all the assets relating to the brand for a nominal monthly rent. It was decided that if I found a buyer, we’ll buy over the assets. I didn’t have enough money to buy the brand. I had to borrow from friends. So, we started off that way and I took over The Pioneer in 1998. The paper had done well from 1996-1997, we were expanding. Thapar group had put in some more money into it. But the situation became grim in mid-1997. They had a poor business, but we lived in the belief that whatever happens, it won’t happen to The Pioneer. Thapars would arrange for it some money from somewhere. But this became difficult from mid-1997.
Q. So, what was the vision you rearticulated at that time when you took over? Considering so much of competition, what was the competitive space you thought The Pioneer could position itself in?
A. The Pioneer has always been a niche product. I’ve never intended to go into a mass market. I wanted to position it as a quality second paper in every major city of the country. At that time, of course, it was a struggle for survival, but my vision was and is that there is a space. It’s a small space, but its quality space. I don’t think anyone buys The Pioneer as a first newspaper in Delhi, but we give value for money. When HT and TOI were selling at Re.1 and gave 36 pages, we gave 16 pages at two rupees; even then the circulation didn’t drop even by a single copy. That means the people who buy The Pioneer, small in number though they might be, are people who read the paper from cover to cover. So, my vision is and will always be to occupy that quality space by providing something different from others.
Q. How would you articulate this quality space?
A. The first thing is that you’ve to identify who are your readers and who you think ought to be your readers. There we’re very clear: we target intelligentsia, bureaucrats, academics, and other professionals like lawyers, doctors, artists and thinking people across the board. Barring the couched potatoes, we believe we appeal to a lot of young people because our articles are written on serious issues in a lively way. Also, I have been very clear on this that we have to beat everybody on ideas. The news is there everywhere, so it depends on how you present the news, how you package it, what value you add to the news. Therefore, I’ve been telling people in The Pioneer, take the news as heard, as read. In the morning, say people take up a TOI or HT and learn that there has been a shootout at the Line of Control. Now, how do you add value to it? Today, one gets to know about things by the evening through TV or internet. So, increasingly the newspaper will no longer be read for news but the value-addition they do to it and for the exclusives. That is what I mean by the quality space. The second part is articles, editorials, thought-provoking commentaries, analyses, these are something serious people are interested in. This is the quality space I’m talking about, and I believe that in every city at least 10-15 per cent of the population is there.
Q. Is that enough to support a business model like yours?
A. I think yes. We have done it. We certainly had to cut costs, but we emphasised on quality rather than quantity as our management approach. We’ve, for instance, shut our press. We have understood that there is no need to have our own press. We outsource. So, it’s been possible to cut costs, smart size the organization, the cost of generating content whether you have one edition or more, is roughly fixed. It’s incremental and, of course, the cost of the newsprint is also high. I’ve, therefore, emphasised on content by spending on intellectual resources, and then leveraging this content through more editions, perhaps on television, or the internet. Content is the same. So, if you can create the content, the business model is there. It’ll just need that initial push, that initial investment to disseminate it.
Q. How do you react to the phenomenon of mergers taking place in the media industry worldwide? Do you think Indian media industry will evolve a similar model?
A. I think India will grow in its own way. I don’t see an AOL-Time Warner kind of merger happening here. I think what is happening here is a dwarf version of this. In India there are one or two such organisations, which are becoming very big and expanding massively. That is bad news for the smaller players.
Q. Even the global model has not worked much. AOL-Time Warner didn’t quite succeed. In Indian context, the old media has failed to really join hands with the new media. What do you have to say on that?
A. Yes, it’s a very important point you’ve made. I personally believe that at some point of time all media have to be multimedia. So, all media organizations, especially the newspaper groups will have to expand and leverage their content through other pathways like the TV or the internet, that we know of today, tomorrow there may be some more. Living Media is a case in point. They have presence in print, TV, internet and Mr Aroon Purie (Editor-in-Chief of Living Media, India Today) has been very proactive and has always reinvented himself.
Q. In a similar plunge Business India went bust
A. I won’t like to comment on this. But I think they didn’t go about in the right way. Unlike India Today, they hired an entirely new staff, totally different set up from Business India. And second, Mr Purie of India Today didn’t borrow money. That was crucial. Because the cost of the debt in India is so high that unless you have very deep pockets and other subsidiary businesses to support you, it’s very risky. That is why Business India failed, and the Living Media succeeded because they didn’t borrow any money, and the content created by the India Today Group was happening anyway. Many have experimented with it, but the old media hasn’t so far succeeded in marrying with the new media. This requires a change of mindset and a different professional management. Times Group is very conservative, they came into TV but Times Television did very little. So, in India people who should be adventurous aren’t and those who shouldn’t be adventurous, are.
Q. How do you look at The Pioneer in this context?
A. In The Pioneer, we have the ideas; we have the content and spirit of adventure. What we don’t have is money.
Q. What about financial institutions?
A. Financial institutions have been good to me, not in terms of the quantity of money they’ve given me, but by stepping in at critical junctures. Pioneer would have folded up but for the help of the financial institutions at some very critical junctures. They’ve invested in the paper, given me loans. Foreign direct investment in print media was permitted by the Government of India in 2003. At present foreign investors can buy equity up to 26 per cent in Indian media companies in the news segment and up to 100 per cent in specialist magazines. The money from abroad has flowed mainly into regional language publications and we have not been able to attract FDI to The Pioneer, despite our efforts. I’m confident that I’ll be able to generate the kind of funding to become a quality content producer, like Pioneer to leverage its content across media. We’ve not been able to get this funding domestically.
Q. What are the major barriers you have faced to put your vision in place?
A. I don’t think I’ve faced too many major barriers, except the predatory tactics of other newspapers, particularly the Times of India, because they have the size and the clout, to hammer us down every time. I think the biggest problem has been trying to get FDI for The Pioneer. Other problem has been raising funds, since we didn’t have assets and the only route was the debt route. We only have the brand and the goodwill. In this country, even the brand doesn’t matter to people. A paper with 146 years of history where people like Rudyard Kipling and Sir Winston Churchill have been writers, it was a dominant publication of Uttar Pradesh [a North Indian state], it was a path-breaking paper even in recent times. There were lots of things that could have been done with the paper only if someone realized the value of the brand. Other problem with the Indian businesses houses is that the demands they make at times are a little unreasonable for editorial independence. This has been a problem at times. I’ve managed to strike a balance, but obviously if you’re poor, you become vulnerable. Like TOI can withstand such pressures much better than Indian Express or The Pioneer.
Q. What are the factors that really helped across your journey?
A. I enjoyed a lot or goodwill in the city, in the society, in the government, in financial institutions, banks, everybody tried to help. Some tried and couldn’t, some tried and did. It’s very gratifying. Second, of course, is our newspaper team. They have shown tremendous solidarity. There was a time when we didn’t pay salaries for five months at a stretch. But I didn’t lose anyone during that period. After I took over, I brought about a complete changeover of the Thapar group management and let journalists take over management. Durbar Ganguly, who was a journalist, was made the Executive Vice-President. Sanjeev Bikhchandani [founder of Naukri.com, a job portal] was with us. So, this solidarity imposed a lot of responsibility on me as well. There were times when I thought of closing down the paper, but the faith that some 400 people had put in me kept me going. I didn’t want to let them down.
Q. Why have so many business houses failed in this industry?
A. When I wanted to sell the sell the Pioneer during one of the early days of my taking over I approached Mr Rajan Nanda (an industrialist, chairman of Escorts group). I made a couple of presentations to him and he looked excited. After two weeks he called me and said “Chandan, come and see me”. I was very hopeful. But he said, “Sorry, we’ve decided against it. We thought about it. My good wishes to you and I’ll try and help you in every other way. You’ll be able to do it. I won’t. There’s a core competence factor. That’s why your previous owners Thapars had to exit. That is why Singhanias had to exit, that is why Ambanis are languishing and will exit”. So, there’s a lesson for everyone. And yet, why have Shobhana Bhartia [Chairperson of Hindustan Times], Aveek Sarkar [Editor of Anand Bazar Patrika], Malayala Manorama people, Sameer Jain [Times of India] have been able to do it? So, newspaper or media as a peripheral business interest never works. Same is true with all the businesses that involve ideas. In ideas industry, it’s very important that you’ve your heart and soul in it to succeed.
Q. What are your own strengths as a leader?
A. I never shirk hard work. But on the other hand I don’t work for its own sake. I don’t make a fetish of coming to the office on Sundays. I’m quite hands on editorially. I discuss with my team to generate ideas, decide headlines, layout, etc. Commercially, I was hands on initially, but not now I’ve left much on my team to decide. But yes, if there’s a need for me to meet the chiefs of some companies where a serious marketing proposition is involved, I do go. My other strength is that I know a lot of people in the city. I’m pretty honest and straightforward. Although, there are many people who aren’t honest and straightforward but they do appreciate others who are so. So, this network has developed over the years. Third strength is that I am a man of ideas. I keep thinking. Fourth is that I’m a good man-manager. I think I deal directly with people in a straightforward way, and therefore, I’ve commanded the loyalty of the staff.
Q. Your weaknesses?
A. I think I’m too soft. I get taken in by soft stories easily. I’m often unable to drive a hard bargain, which a businessman ought to do. Then I’m very straight in my liking for people. Either I like people or I don’t like them. This is not good for an editor or a businessman. But it’s I guess a Sagittarian trait. I can’t do much about it.
Q. Any major organisational changes you’re planning, any diversification in plan?
A. We’re diversifying. We’ve set up another company, CMYK Multimedia, which is handling portals for PSU’s like Oil and Natural Gas Corporation [ONGC], Gas Authority of India Limited [GAIL]. etc. We’re running online newsletters for them or internal communication. We are also coming up with an in-flight magazine for Alliance Air, which will be distributed in both Alliance Air and Indian Airlines. It’ll be positioned to cater to the intelligent, discerning readers. This will be done by leveraging our existing content, resources, but it’s a foray in the English magazine segment. And along the way, we also hope to do something in television. So, we are working on related areas. We’re also thinking of expanding in other printing jobs by leveraging our synergy. But one thing is certain, that we’ll have to do all this without borrowing any money. That’s something I’ve learnt well. No question of borrowing and growing. We’re still a little tight financially, but I see things improving in the next few months. So, gradually, if we build our reserves in the next five years there’ll be an upwardly mobile Pioneer.
Q. What’s your philosophy of management?
A. Just one thing: treat everybody with dignity. Give the respect he or she deserves. It’s not an equal world; no one expects equality. But people expect a human empathy. So, whether it’s the lowliest of employees or the topmost person, I think it’s very important that they should be treated with dignity. Half the problem is resolved when you listen to the other guy’s problem. That’s a fantastic principle of management to hear it out. And that’s something I’ve always done. I’ve sat patiently till midnight to listen to my employees’ personal problems. I’ve told them sorry I can’t solve it. But let me see if I can do something about it. So, this is the only principle of management I’ve believed in and which has worked.
From this paper it seems clear that the media in India is undergoing a huge transformation. Competition within and between vernacular, English and Hindi newspapers has a new challenger round the corner in the form of internet. Availability of funds from financial institutions and stock markets is a matter of concern on top of the federal regulations. Although things are looking up with the opening-up of the Indian economy and permission for FDI in the Indian print media. A surge in other sectors has resulted in a positive impact on the media industry, for example, airlines industry, tourism and leisure, etc., have opened up altogether new avenues for sales of magazines, newspapers and related material. Still one thing is more and more clear that choosing a target group and target market is ever more important. One cannot continue to adopt the strategy of pleasing everyone and actually delivering to none.
There is definitely more need to study Indian culture and leadership practices from different perspectives viz. business, political, social, psychological, etc. With a burgeoning economy, untapped markets and a billion plus population there are huge potentials waiting to be harnessed not only by the local leaders and investors but more so by the international entrepreneurs with fresh pair of eyes.
Guru Prakash PrabhakarBristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK
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