Tarun Khanna: Billions of Entrepreneurs

!http://ko.offroadpakistan.com/images/2008/khanna.jpg! Interesting book on how business is done in India and China, though not as good as the reviews on Amazon make it out to be. It seems overly directed towards the western reader who doesn’t have much knowledge of the two countries, and hasn’t read much else about them.

The basic gist of the book is that India and China have two very different approaches to business, and both countries have to be dealt with very differently.

There are lots of examples in the book, but there is where Friedman is better, in his book “The World is Flat”:http://ko.offroadpakistan.com/2006/12/thomas_freidman_the_world_is_flat_1.html. Both books have their flaws, but the hundered of examples and anecdotes in both of them make them a worthwhile read.

Another “book review”:http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/5766.html:

bq.. Entrepreneurship in the world’s 2 most populous nations, China and India, has through modern times been somewhat asleep. But now, says HBS professor Tarun Khanna in a new book, both societies “have woken up,” and the results could reshape business, politics, and society worldwide.

“In some sense people in these societies are running faster than their rules and laws can keep up. So they are creating the rules as they go along. And entrepreneurship is, after all, doing things in new ways, ahead of social norms and customs, and establishing the rules and laws. In both countries, these processes are unfolding not just in the mainstream business sector but in society writ large and even in politics and civil society,” says Khanna.

p. In Pakistan, people have always been well ahead of the law – but unlike India and China, the local government doesn’t create new, useful laws based on what is actually going on in the country, instead choosing to create a parallel legal and taxation system – which is sometimes called corruption, and many other words, but in Pakistan corruption has transcended government and become the actual government.

The book makes the point, that India and China, with all their warts and flaws are still steaming ahead, and even though they too have much corruption and nonsensical laws, over the past couple decades they have slowly been improving on them. Progress is the word of the day, and it is taking place, in every aspect of the country.

He closes of by saying that as India and China leverage each others strengths, the rest of the world will be moving into third place behind them.

From the book’s “Amazon page”:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/product-description/1422103838/ref=dp_proddesc_0?ie=UTF8&n=283155&s=books:

bq.. Called well worth reading by The Economist and earnest and entertaining by the Financial Times, Tarun Khanna s Billions of Entrepreneurs is an elegantly written book that mixes on-the-ground stories with thorough research to show how Chinese and Indian entrepreneurs are creating change through new business models and bringing hope to countless people across the globe. Khanna juxtaposes, on a variety of levels, China and India; explores how the future depends on understanding the yin and yang of these two nations; and emphasizes the increasingly important links between China, India, and the West. Khanna embraces what he calls a big tent view of entrepreneurship going beyond typical stories of high profile, young executives taking companies public and focusing on social and political entrepreneurs who are redefining the norms of daily activity.

In the book, Khanna sets out to demystify many of the questions that confound foreigners (BusinessWeek), exploring subjects that include each nation s treatment of multinationals, Chinese and Indian managerial talent, and state vs. grassroots approaches to business and entrepreneurship. Khanna’s insightful analysis draws on history, economics, and political science, and is humanized by vivid portraits of the lives of individual entrepreneurs, politicians, and activists whom the author has met during his regular visits to each country. He argues that hope for prosperity in both countries lies in the hands of the billions of entrepreneurs who are alleviating social problems and historic tensions, benefiting both countries and the world at large.

According to the Financial Times: What Khanna does do, and does well, is cover vast sociopolitical and economic ground, and provide meaty information derived from conversations with people who have done business in India and China.

p. The “review I agreed with most on Amazon”:http://www.amazon.com/review/product/1422103838/ref=cm_cr_dp_synop?_encoding=UTF8&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending#R1DUNUZTVD0DOU:

bq. Some good history and insight but nothing earth shattering. I was expecting more. The best parts deal with a variety of historical exchanges between China and India. But the book gets bogged down in too many areas and the writing style is a bit jilted and verbose. There also many references and quotations which can get tiresome and make the reading cumbersome. But the author has done an admirable job in addressing the linkage between China and India and what it might mean for the future (although the last chapter, which tries to tie it all together, left me flat).

h4. Reviews elsewhere

* “Amazon”:http://www.amazon.com/Billions-Entrepreneurs-China-Reshaping-Futures/dp/1422103838

2 thoughts on “Tarun Khanna: Billions of Entrepreneurs”

  1. I have not read the book by Khanna but the title is provocative. I am assuming that by billion entrepreneurs he means the fact that lots of people work in the unorganized sector as opposed to the organized sector. Only around 7 percent of Indian labor is in the organized sector. It is not out of choice but out of necessity that people have to strike out on their own. I think that celebrating such a large unorganized sector is good for selling books but the fact that it celebrates is not such a good thing.

    Let me try an analogy. Would anyone be happy to note that medical services are provided overwhelmingly by quacks and only 7 percent are qualified doctors?

  2. Yes, the title is misleading, as in both China and India most of the examples discussed aren’t really entrepreneurial – in case of China it’s mostly the govt. and in India a number of large entrenched local corporations. Besdies the Indian IT sector, there doesn’t seem to be much entrepreneurship discussed in the book.

    Ironically, it is China where there is the most entrepreneurship – a county where over 50% of industry is state owned!

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