Challenge Change And Continuity Essay

Infosys has been bruised by a tussle between its board and founder N R Narayana Murthy. Its CEO, Vishal Sikka, chairman R Seshasayee and two other board members have quit. Nandan Nilekani, one of the founders, is back as non-executive chairman.

During his decades in the company, Infosys grew into a multibillion-dollar revenue giant and its transparent management and work culture was a magnet for foreign investors, otherwise bemused by the opacity in many Indian corporations. Yet, for nearly a decade, Infosys has fallen far behind cutting-edge IT; companies like Alphabet, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and others have raced ahead.

Infosys has failed to progress beyond its core activity as wage arbitrageur for digital grunt work. It has few technologies of its own and lacks a high-value consultancy team. Sikka was imported to whip Infosys into shape, and make good use of its cash pile. Under him, Infosys managed to boost its revenues per employee from the $50,000 mark, where it was stuck with TCS and Wipro, closer to the $65,000 level of HCL. Shareholders were happier, but Infosys’ conservative sages could not adjust to extravagant pay and severance packages, acquisition costs and chartered flights that came with the new CEO. Sikka’s departure with much of the board owes less to their performance, measured by investor confidence, and more to a clash of cultures between founders and globalised managers.

Nilekani understands the culture at Infosys. Which makes it simpler for him to continue the systemic changes Sikka introduced to raise revenue per employee, without raising hackles or even eyebrows. However, going back to the Infosys of old is not an option. Continue Sikka’s good work, even if not in his name or style.

This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Economic Times.

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Notes

1 A. Diaz, J. Middendorf,, D. Pace, and L. Shopkow, L. "The History Learning Project: A department "decodes" its students," Journal of American History, 94, no. 4, (2008), 1213.

2 P. Afflerbach, and Bruce VanSledright, "Hath! Doth! What? Middle graders reading innovative history text," Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 44 no. 8 (2001), 696-707.

3 Robert Bain, "Into the Breach: Using research and theory to shape history instruction," in Peter N. Stearns, Peter Seixas and Sam Wineberg, (eds)., Knowing, Teaching, and Learning History (New York: New York University Press, 2000), 331-53.

4 The Advanced Placement World History Chief Readers' reports available on http://apcentral.collegeboard.com also report these same types of errors.

5 Patrick Manning, "Interactions and connections: Locating and managing historical complexity," The History Teacher. 39, no. 2 (2006), 189.

6 Janet Alleman and Jere Brophy, "History is Alive; Teaching young children about changes over time," The Social Studies. 94, no. 3 (2003), 107-114.

7 Denis Shemilt, "The Caliph's Coin: The Currency of Narrative Frameworks in History Teaching," in Peter N. Stearns, Peter Seixas, Sam Wineburg, eds., Knowing Teaching and Learning History, National and International Perspectives (New York: New York University Press, 2000), 87.

8 Ian Dawson, "Time for Chronology? Ideas for developing chronological understanding," in Teaching History, 117 (2004), 21.

9 Terry Epstein, "Adolescents' Perspectives on Racial Diversity in U. S. history: Case Studies from an Urban Classroom," American Educational Research Journal, 37, no. 1, (2000), 185-214.

10 The term "of African heritage" refers to students who themselves or their parents were born in Africa, the Caribbean, or mark 'African-American' on official school forms.

11 Peter Seixas, "Popular Film and Young People's Understanding of Native American-White Relations," The History Teacher, 26, no. 3 (1993), 351-370.

12 See Sam Wineburg, Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Charting the Future of Teaching the Past. (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2001).

 

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