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

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’. The constant efforts of knowledge workers are driving the organisations of today. Knowledge workers are everywhere – programmers, healthcare professionals, pharmacists, academics, scientists, engineers, lawyers, architects, consultants, management practitioners, business and financial operators, arts, design, entertainment and sports – and any other work where people ‘think for a living’.         

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. Professionals who work in knowledge organisations such as consulting firms have dual work-places. Internally, they have formal power. However, externally, for client work, they have expertise power. The process through which professionals exercise power in client settings and combine it with the expertise to create impact could be an exciting area of study.

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.
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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. Public organisations are also noted to experience more turbulence, interruptions, and conflicts in their decision-making than private organisations. Formal rules, multi-layered hierarchies, information silos, lack of economic incentives, and divided political leadership at the top of public bureaucracies tend to stifle their innovation.

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?      
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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. Read more

4. CEO Personality and Strategic Leadership Development

Faculty members associated with this theme study and do research on personality, negotiations, the positive and negative aspects of leadership, and 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. Read more

5. Leadership in Constitutional, Legal and Regulatory Organisations

The organisations of the state and its arms, be it Central or State or Local level, reflects largely the organisations 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. And the key towards building credible organisations is the leadership role an entity and persons holding such positions. 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. Read more