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Riding the ‘earning horse’: Indian Railways

INSEAD Knowledge

Indian Railways is the world’s largest employer and one of the biggest and busiest rail networks in the world, carrying some 17 million people and more than one million tonnes of freight daily. It was, however, until very recently, a loss-making organisation, which was heading for bankruptcy. Starting his term in 2004 with a budget of just $200 million with which to save the national institution, India’s Minister of Railways Lalu Prasad engineered a dramatic turnaround. Last year, Indian Railways’ revenue came to $6 billion.

Leadership & Organisations

The Momentum Effect

CEOs dream of delivering efficient and sustainable growth – growth that would put serious distance between them and their competitors. Unfortunately, the way most large corporations generate growth is so expensive and inefficient that for most firms, meaningful, market-beating growth has remained just that – a dream. Until now.


Responsible leaders and sustainable growth?

Are business leaders really buying into sustainable development? According to McKinsey, only 20 per cent of executives feel that sustainability is part of their responsibility.

Leadership & Organisations

Women and Money

Are men or women better at investing? “This is not only a fun question but it is of great practical value,” says INSEAD Assistant Professor of Finance, Lily Fang, who hosted a Women and Money forum at INSEAD recently.

Leadership & Organisations

Cross-cultural negotiations: avoiding the pitfalls

When entering into negotiations, we should always take into account cultural factors such as the educational or religious background of the person sitting across the table, but, says INSEAD professor Horacio Falcao, many people both underestimate and overestimate the cross-cultural aspects.


More expensive medication may be more potent

“Marketing variables not only influence people’s perceptions and expectations, they actually influence the real efficacy of products such as medications.”

Leadership & Organisations

The value creation imperative

It's been just over 400 years since a Dutch company became the first organisation to sell shares and became publicly traded. By 2007, more than one billion people owned a stake in the world's companies worth more than $75 trillion.

Leadership & Organisations

Linking team diversity to extreme team performance

During his time working at Vivendi Universal, Fabrice Cavarretta, a PhD candidate in organisational behaviour at INSEAD, says “intuitively it felt that the company would either do extremely well or very badly. But it was not clear whether anyone could have predicted which way it would go. I became fascinated by Vivendi’s top management team’s composition, which was so homogeneous one could feel the situation turn out excessively well, or be a complete fiasco – one extreme or the other.”

Leadership & Organisations

Relationship building: A key driver for securing repeat business

A study of consulting firm Celerant has found that relationship building is key to bringing in repeat business which accounts for up to 70 per cent of its revenues each year.


Putting leaders on the couch

When INSEAD Professor Manfred Kets de Vries coaches leadership teams, he effectively puts them on the couch – treating them not so much as rational actors but as emotional ones.


Banyan Tree: The brand imperative

“There are only two advantages in life which are proprietary: technology and branding. Since I’m not a technologist, I decided that whatever business I was going to do next had to have a strong brand.”


New media: The online evolution of newspapers

In September, the New York Times did an about-face of sorts. It ended its paid-for online subscription model, under which it had been charging for access to premium content by columnists and commentators such as economist Paul Krugman and writer Thomas Friedman.


Buying companies for new competencies: Is it worth it?

INSEAD Knowledge

In fast-moving industries, large companies are increasingly using acquisitions as a strategy to obtain new competencies from smaller firms. The key aspect of the acquisition is to gain access to the knowledge assets of the target firm. This knowledge- which often resides in the employees- is critical for the acquisition to create value for the acquiring firm. However, the difficulty of evaluating and monitoring employees in a large firm and the reduction in employees’ incentives, due to less control over their efforts and lower profit-sharing, can lead to a persistent decline in their productivity after the acquisition.


In search of blue oceans: AOL (Europe)

Internet business America Online (AOL) has had a chequered history since its marriage to the US media giant Time Warner in 2002. In fact, Time Warner’s $106 billion deal to buy the internet business is regarded today as one of the worst in corporate history.


Globalising the brand: Looking beyond lower costs

While many multinational firms are choosing to outsource services and production to Asia, one company says it’s looking beyond lowering costs and is aiming to ‘globalise its corporate brand,’ by developing a major R&D base in India.