FACED with complexity humans often resort to a heuristic, a rough mental template that gets the job done. That could come in handy at Tata Group, India’s largest business, whose dizzying mix of scale, palace politics and sense of moral purpose defy any categorisation. Tata’s boss, Natarajan Chandrasekaran, known as Chandra, has been in the job for a year. He spent 2017 pepping up morale and extinguishing fires. Now he must squeeze Tata into a new strategic framework that clarifies its structure and purpose.
Is it a 150-year-old national monument, a philanthropic vehicle or a conglomerate? In Schumpeter’s view Tata should instead be positioned as a holding company—like Berkshire Hathaway but minus the personality cult and with Indian characteristics.
Tata is a handful. It has 695,000 staff and is active in 17 industries. Its family of firms has a market value of $155bn. It mixes virtue with profits; Tata’s leaders are expected to exude decency and probity. The group was an...Continue reading