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India has a VUCA business environment - volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. So how do you do business here? Two eminent business leaders explore strategies which have worked in India looking at successful companies like Adani Ports, redBus, Godrej, HUL and Bosch.

Dr. Wilfried Aulbur

Wilfried Aulbur is a Member of the global Supervisory board, Chairman of Middle East and Africa and Managing Partner India for Roland Berger. Previously, he was the CEO of Mercedes-Benz India and has held various positions with Daimler in the US, Europe and India. Wilfried is an instructor with Harvard Business Publishing in the area of Strategy, Operations and Innovation.

Dr. Amit Kapoor

Amit Kapoor is Honorary Chairman, Institute for Competitiveness, India and an affiliate faculty for the Microeconomics of Competitiveness course of Institute of Strategy and Competitiveness, Harvard Business School. He is also an instructor with Harvard Business Publishing in the area of Strategy, Competitiveness and Business Models.


India – A vibrant and volatile business opportunity

We live in a VUCA world, a world characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. The Internet is (finally) revolutionizing the retail and media industries. Green technologies are shaping our growth path. Biotechnology and material science are on the verge of ever more fundamental breakthroughs. Digitalization and robotization are putting industrial capabilities at risk. Germany is about to switch off nuclear power. Europe is faced with a violent geopolitical conflict on her doorsteps. The US has proclaimed the “Pacific Age”. Unethical behavior by bankers has not only led to the great financial crisis of 2008 but to a series of scandals relating to Libor and exchange rate fixing.


Chapter 1 sets the stage by looking at India's development from an economic, social and political point of view. The main focus of the analysis is India's journey post liberalization. We show that India's economy is remarkably resilient despite all the challenges that the macroeconomic environment and her own political parties throw at her.

Chapter 2 focuses on operations as the basic enabler to execute strategy in a price sensitive, value-for-money focused environment.

Chapter 3 analyses challenges in the Indian textile and machine-tool industry which serve as a reminder of the work that still needs to be done. A review of the history of 'Made in Germany' will provide potential lessons for the current government initiative 'Make in India'.

Chapter 4 will analyse the importance of innovation, both for Indian domestic market as well as for conquering developed and other emerging markets abroad. We will focus on several areas of innovation - business models, repurposing of products for a different set of applications and product innovation through frugal engineering.

Chapter 5 highlights a relatively new phenomenon in India, namely the development of its incubation and start-up ecosystem.

Chapter 6 looks at choices and trade-offs. To create unique value, companies have to create activity systems that perfectly fit with customer needs. Optimizing one activity system prevents the company from getting into another activity system to deliver alternative products.

Chapter 7 details the importance of company purpose to drive alignment through organizations.

Chapter 8 talks about leadership i.e. the courage and drive it takes to create and grow aligned global businesses.

Chapter 9 is a short summary of our analysis and deliberations.


This book looks at successful and sometimes not so successful strategies, operations, and innovations within India. We have distilled lessons from our decades of practical work experience in the country. We leverage more than 100 client engagements in India and other emerging markets as well as countless research assignments on India's macro- and micro-economic environment. In addition, more than 100 case studies created in the last few years in the context of the Porter Prize, provide us with detailed insights into the way business is done in India. The book clearly addresses the Indian context; however, many approaches and ideas can be applied to other emerging markets as well.

Get in touch with the authors

You can write to us to engage the authors for speaking engagements and programs at your institution.

Praise for the Book

Anand Mahindra, Chairman & Managing Director, Mahindra Group

I am positive that this book will educate businesspeople across the world (and Indians too!) about the uniqueness of doing business in India, which in the author’s words will be an ‘absolute necessity’ going forward.

Adi Godrej, Chairman, Godrej Industries Ltd.

‘A must read for managers who want to understand what it takes to become a successful emerging market MNC.’

Ratan Tata, Chairman emeritus Tata Sons, ex-Chairman Tata Group

‘The case studies analyzed, excellently point out how companies are innovating to address previously untapped customer segments while still bringing about social impact in developing economies.’

Farhad Forbes, Co-Chairman, Forbes Marshall Pvt. Ltd.; Naushad Forbes,
Co-Chairman, Forbes Marshall Pvt. Ltd., President Confederation of Indian Industry

‘The book provides great learning for all of us who own, lead and manage companies in India.’

Sunil Kant Munjal, Chairman, Hero Corporate Services Pvt Ltd

'A must-read for India watchers, baiters and investors alike'

R.C. Bhargava, Chairman, Maruti-Suzuki Ltd

‘A superb analysis of success stories, from a wide cross-section of businesses, revealing the key ingredients of winning strategies.’

Rajiv Bajaj, managing director, Bajaj Auto Ltd

‘A must-read for people who want to understand how to succeed in volatile markets’

N.R. Narayana Murthy, Co-founder, Infosys

‘Through well-chosen, diverse case studies of several successful Indian companies, the authors explain what it takes to win in India. This is an interesting read’

Meher Pudumjee, Chairperson, Thermax Group, Pheroz Pudumjee, Director, Thermax Group

'From the individual strands of winning strategies that companies weave, this useful book presents the case for a sustaining tapestry of industrial eco-system, essential for India if it has to realize its potential, and for companies if they are to flourish here.'

Anees Noorani, Managing Director, Zodiac Clothing Company

‘The book reflects the authors excellent understanding of the challenges and opportunities of doing business in India and will be very useful to managers and investors in India alike.’

Professor Rishikesha T. Krishnan, Director, IIM Indore

‘This highly readable book unravels the secret sauce of India's outstanding companies.’


Anup Malani, Lee and Brena Freeman Professor, University of Chicago

‘This is required reading for businesses looking to capitalize on India’s remarkable growth potential.’

Vivek Chaand Sehgal, Chairman and Co-founder, Samvardhana Motherson Group

‘A must-read for the young entrepreneurs, and those who wish to do business in India’

Sanjay Kirloskar, Chairman and Managing Director, Kirloskar Brothers Ltd

‘A must-read for people who would like to learn how to navigate the Indian market successfully’

Deepak Parekh, Chairman, HDFC Ltd

'A fascinating read, detailing nuances of what it takes for companies to succeed in India.'

Jaideep Prabhu, Director, Cambridge Centre for Indian and Global Business, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge

‘This is a very impressive book on Indian business.’

Shereen Bhan, Managing Editor, CNBC-TV18

‘The companies featured in the book have not just redefined the way we look at “value for money” but have created competitive, world-class brands’

Vikas Sehgal, global partner, Rothschild

‘The book brings together multiple facets to help develop a true sense of what’s needed to manage the complexities, and exploit the opportunities, presented by India’

Nishant Arya, Executive Director, JBM Group

‘The book is a must-read for entrepreneurs wanting to master the challenges of a volatile, diverse and dynamic environment’

Navi Radjou, Co-author, Jugaad Innovation and Frugal Innovation

'A must-read “survival guide” for intrepid senior leaders who wish to explore the rich Indian business jungle and learn to “ride the tiger".'

Bernhard Steinrücke, Director General of the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce

‘With this book written by two experienced and well-known India experts you will get along successfully through the Indian “Jungle”. It is a must read book for everyone who deals with the Indian economy.’

Neeraj Kanwar, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director, Apollo Tyres Ltd.

‘The authors have been able to use their vast personal experiences in India to distil the essence and simplify it for easy understanding, without compromising on the quality of their insights. A worthy read!’

Nirmal Bhogilal, Chairman, Batliboi Ltd.

‘Riding the Tiger’ is an extremely appropriate study of the opportunities and challenges of being successful in India. I highly recommend this book to business leaders and practicing managers.

Prakash Chhabria, Managing Director, Finolex Industries Ltd

Riding the Tiger captures the essentials of doing business and being successful in India very well. A must read for anyone interested in doing business in India as well as emerging markets.

Stuart L. Hart, Professor, Steven Grossman Endowed Chair in Sustainable Business,
University of Vermont, author of Capitalism at the Crossroads

‘It just may turn out that learning to “Ride the Tiger” in India will hold the key to business success around the world as digitization and rapid change, combined with corruption, environmental degradation and income inequality become the new normal.'

Sumantra B. Barooah, Associate Editor, AutoCar Professional

‘There's no silver bullet to tap the big opportunities across various sectors in this strongest pillar of the BRICS wall. However, the deep insights and elaborate case studies in Riding the Tiger can equip the reader with that much-needed knowledge that is critical for success.’

Huber Reilard, Managing Director, EFD Induction, President, Indo-German Chamber of

‘It is a fascinating book to read for all who are already present in the Indian market or plan investments here.'


Roy Kamphausen, author of Innovate in India: Global Perspectives on the Continuing
Evolution of India's IP Policy, & Director of Washington DC Office, The National
Bureau of Asian Research (US)

"How to think about the complex Indian domestic market has confounded many companies seeking to do business and operate there. Now, thanks to the keen intellect of Amit Kapoor, this task is much easier.Riding the Tiger is a must-read for scholars, investors, and in-country business operations leaders.”


Write to us to engage the authors for speaking engagements and programs.


© 2021 Wilfried Aulbur and Amit Kapoor

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