Ashank Desai Centre for Leadership and Organisational Development
Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad

Ashank Desai Centre for Leadership and Organisational Development

The Ashank Desai Centre for Leadership and Organisational Development aims to bring together faculty, students and governmental, non-governmental, and private organisations to conduct distinctive and high-quality leadership and organisational development research. The centre plans to drive research in various themes related to leadership development and offer training and research and consulting services to leaders at various levels in Indian and multinational organisations. The proposed centre aims to conduct research and knowledge development in the following broad areas.
Focus Areas

1. Leadership for Knowledge Organisations

Knowledge is the greatest leveller of our times. Knowledge work is defined as anything where the acquisition and exploitation of knowledge is central for an organisation’s competitive advantage. The principal capital of knowledge workers is ‘information’. Leadership is the process of influencing an individual or a group of individuals to achieve a common goal. The central task of management today is to blend powerful leadership with an empowered workforce, and providing them with clear goals and an open and participative culture. The centre will aim to conduct research on this area in R&D organisations, technology firms, and consulting firms to understand how leaders develop power and influence and exercise power downwards and sideways.

2. Leadership for Public Sector Organisations

Public sector undertakings (PSUs) contribute significantly to any country’s economic development as their services are aimed at its overall welfare. They also play an essential role in supporting other vital institutions and businesses of a nation. They differ significantly from private sector organisations. For example, private firms are owned by entrepreneurs/shareholders, but communities own public agencies. Further, public organisations face the vagaries of political forces more than the vagaries of market forces. The short and uncertain tenures of politicians make it difficult to bring about continuous, incremental changes in public enterprises. Under this theme, the centre will examine critical management issues that Indian public sector undertakings are faced with. Specifically, we aim to work on four research questions: (1) What are the topmost leadership challenges facing leaders of Indian public sector undertakings? (2) what critical leadership skills senior managers and leaders of Indian public sector undertakings need to be effective leaders/managers? (3) what are the top concerns or priorities of the human resource management function in Indian public sector undertakings? (4) what important factors attract and motivate individuals to work in Indian public sector undertakings?

3. Leadership for Non-Profit and Social Enterprises

There is a long and distinctive operating history of not-for-profit organisations in India. These organisations number many, cover almost the entire gamut of socio-economic and geographic issues within the country, and as a distinguishing mark, exhibit sharp differences of ideologies, approach and management styles amongst themselves. As a class of organisations, they thus present rich material for any sincere student of management. Recent years have also seen the emergence of many nonprofits integrating social missions with business orientations, organisations referred to as social enterprises. These organisations, then, constitute an interesting sub-class of organisations within the development sector, especially when it comes to the subject of organisational development or behaviour. From a management standpoint it is certainly worthwhile to ask: what can the study of these organisations add to the body of knowledge within leadership and Organisational Development (OD) as well as how these organisations can also learn from it?

The objective of the centre is to engage in knowledge creation with respect to the leadership concerns in the social sector, including issues of designing and managing social sector organisations, financial sustenance concerns, governance issues, and developing and nurturing of human capabilities. At the same time, the centre aims to develop and embrace newer leadership capabilities, models, and frameworks, in addition to traditional models and frameworks, for addressing some of the most pressing social issues affecting the society currently.

4. CEO Personality and Strategic Leadership Development

The centre will deliver evidence-based offerings using a wide variety of pedagogy, including self-assessment, experiential activities, lectures and cases tailor-made to leaders' requirements in India and the Asia-Pacific region. The centre hopes to develop and run workshops and executive education programs on self-assessment for leader personality, negotiations, and transition from a middle-level executive to strategic leadership.

A related theme that the centre faculty would like to explore will be the challenges being faced by women leaders in India, leadership development for women, and women entrepreneurs. Over time, the centre would like to develop training programs as well research material (journal articles as well as case studies) on issues related to women leaders in the Indian context.

5. Leadership in Constitutional, Legal and Regulatory Organisations

The Organisation of the state and its arms, be it Central or State or Local level, reflects largely the Organisation of the Indian constitutional text. Constitution provides the establishment of a number of institutions, commonly referred as ‘Constitutional Institutions’. These institutions are designed for a higher moral, democratic and legal purpose - upholding constitutional values, ensuring rule of law and demarcating boundaries through separation of power theory. The centre will work towards understanding the design and purpose, and functioning of these institutions. We will begin the work with 1) Studies on Judiciary and Tribunals, and 2) Institutions like Central Information Commissions and Central Vigilance Commissions etc.

Second part of the work will be to understand how legislation (statutes) and law of torts helps or acts as a barrier in terms of facilitating decision making and ensuring effective leadership. Third part of the work under this section is on Regulatory Agencies. In India, we have seen proliferation of regulatory agencies in the aftermath of market liberation. Regulatory agency and its design are uncommon under Indian governance structure- an agency legislates, makes and implement policy, and also adjudicate. All rolled into one. This has caused concern on the nature of power and the kind of leadership it requires to work within the system and at the same time develop unique governance models.