Sumantra Goshal

Sumantra Goshal who has high impact on the managers of international companies is “one of the most influential business academic in the world” (Stephen, 2004:1) and “one of the most respected thinker of his generation” (Jayanta, 2006:1992). He was not only a teacher, researcher, writer, consultant for many international companies but also a founding dean of Indian School of Business in Hyderabad. Sumantra Goshal (1948-2004) was born in Calcutta, India. After graduated from Delhi University with Physics major, he spent 12 years working in Indian Oil Corporation.

In 1981, he moved to United States on a Fulbright Fellowship and he managed to gain DBA from Harvard Business School and PhD from MIT at the same time. Sumantra Goshal worked in London Business School from 1994 until his untimely death in 2004 as a Professor of Strategic and International Management. He was also a member of Overseers of the Harvard Business School and was the Founding Dean of the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad. He had also taught at INSEAD, France and at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, Boston, USA (BBC Learning English).

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According to the website of London Business School, Sumantra published 12 books including Managing Across Borders: The Transnational Solution, co-authored with Christopher Bartlett, has been listed in the Financial Times as one of the 50 most influential management books; The Differential Network: Organizing the Multinational Corporation for Value Creation, co-authored with Nitin Nohria, won the George Terry Book Award in 1997; The Individualized Corporation, co-authored with Christopher Bartlett, won the Igor Ansoff Award in 1997.

His most recent book, Managing Radical Change, won the Management Book of the Year award in India. Sumantra also published over 60 articles in academic journals as well as numerous award winning case studies. Sumantra’s transnational solution framework: Sumantra focused on understanding the strategic, organisational and managerial issues of multinational companies to produce “managerial theory of the firm” (Julian, 2006: 583) and he was recognized worldwide as leading-edge (London Business School website).

His researches help companies build their strategies and identify the necessary structural and cultural changes in order to develop sustainably. Managing across Borders: the Transnational Solution with Christopher Barlett is seen as the best known of Sumantra Goshal, which provides insights of the management of companies operating in an international environment. This paper is going to concentrate on this book only because it represents the leading edge of thinking of Sumantra on this important subject.

In this book, three types of organisational model in operation were distinguished including: multinational model, global model, and more widespread international model (Jayanta, 2006:1993) and it was concluded by the necessary of transnational model as the fourth one, which not only combine all element of other three but also maximize the local understanding. The transnational solution in this book described the major challenges of globalisation which the managers of all types of international firms had to deal with.

This book started with the strategy of the firm, and then looked at issues of management within it, and finally the individual taking charge of his or her destiny (The Guardian, 2004). Hereby, it made clear that success in global strategy is as much a function of the ability to organize and manage as it is the ability to create a sound strategy (Christopher, Sumantra, 2012). The Quinn Competing Values framework talks about the relationship between leadership, effective organisational performance, and value creation (Kim, 2006:6), in which the leadership is seen as the ground for other steps.

It also acknowledges the competing, conflicting and paradoxial nature of the modern business environment (Dainty, 2007: 190). And here is the space where the Sumantra’s idea fit into the frame work as his idea emphasized on the importance of high quality management to create value. The chapter three of Managing Across Borders developed the solution which is appropriate to each type of transnational operation model for managers to build and manage their organisation. Hence, both frame works have been applied to many topics related to organizational and managerial topics.

The contribution of this theory: Coming from his own experience as manager for many years plus with intense research, teaching and consulting, Sumantra did make a interesting, meaningful book, especially it is very useful for the practice of managers because it contains many valuable lessons for companies in a wide range of industries and sizes-indeed, almost any organization operating several different businesses across borders (according to the evaluation of The Financial Times in Christopher, Sumantra, 2012).

The key contribution of transnational solution frame work was the prescription that multinational enterprises should combine the global and national strategy by attempting to develop the capability to implement either a national or a global approach within each separate business, each function within that business, and each task within that function (Julian, 2004: 48). Sumantra’s research about organisational issues and the structural model of the multinational companies in general and Managing Across Borders in particular are still highly relevant to today’s business environment when they have been well applied to the everyday working.