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Billions of Entrepreneurs: How China and India Are Reshaping Their Futuresand Yours Hardcover – 24 Dec 2007
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...an objective and insightful comparison of China and India... a very fair-minded report on the two Asian giants.
-- Foreign Affairs, May 2008
Compelling... paints a vivid picture of how China and India are reshaping business, politics, and society around the world. -- Asian Lite, March 2008
Must reading for every thoughtful reader ....a compelling blend of economic analysis, political insight and cultural observation.
-- Asian Lite, March 2008
Well worth reading... illuminating explanations of why India and China work in the ways that they do -- The Economist, January 24, 2008
admirably detailed... well worth reading
-- The Economist, January 24, 2008
earnest and entertaining [Khanna] covers vast sociopolitical and economic ground, and provides meaty information -- Financial Times, February 6, 2008
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." See all Product description
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Tarun Khanna, a professor of Business at Harvard Business School who specializes in emerging market firms and institutions, is well placed to describe the rise of entrepreneurship in these two giant states. An Indian citizen, who schooled in the United States (Princeton and Harvard University), Khanna has met and taught many business and political leaders in these countries--and has consulted for many emerging country firms. Khanna begins the book by challenging Western readers to `reimagine' Chine and India. He criticizes the state of ignorance about China and India among even educated Americans. Why do educated Indians and Chinese know about the U.S. Bill of Rights and the Gettysburg address yet many Americans cannot point out China and India on a map. Sadly, popular conceptions of China and India are based on outdated stereotypes: poor, exotic Indians versus noble, if shifty Chinese. Despite the stereotypes, Khanna admits concedes that there is indeed growing interest in the U.S. for information about China and India.
Using anecdotes and hard statistics, Khanna then compares India and China on many dimensions to tease out the similarities and differences between them: statecraft (efficient, consensus-seeking Chinese autocratic government versus inefficient, pluralistic Indian government); business innovation (top-down, centrally-directed Chinese innovation system versus decentralized, Indian system); and treatment of diaspora communities (China's embrace of its Diaspora versus India's suspicion of the wealth of its Diaspora). Khanna probes below the surface of current events to expose the root causes of the traits of these societies as he sees it. Why was India so suspicious of capitalism after its independence from Britain in 1947? How can one explain China's obsession with `catching up' with the West? How do we make sense of the rise of China and India? Khanna does not provide the definitive `slap down' answers to all these questions (who can?), but he offers some thought-provoking insight. From this book, I learnt about the diplomacy of Zhou Enlai, the lasting effects of Nehru's idealism and the inconceivable entrepreneurial energy of these two countries. If I ever doubted the tenacity and determination of China and India to emerge and compete on the world stage, I lost all doubt after reading Billions of Entrepreneurs.
Tarun Khanna is a brilliant academic and storyteller. However, no book can capture the entire nuance that characterizes business in China and India. For example, inequality in China is an increasingly polarizing issue. How might the Chinese state manage the vast challenge of developing its interior regions given the high inequality in the country? Given India's potential (the so-called democratic dividend), how might India `overtake' China? Nonetheless, Billions of Entrepreneurs is a must-read for anyone who has only a vague (perhaps quaint?) idea of China and India.
As a Ph.D. student, who studies entrepreneurship in emerging markets and is familiar with Tarun Khanna's academic work, I was delighted to read Billions of Entrepreneurs; it is engaging and thought-provoking. Neil Ferguson, a historian at Harvard, once said that the Great Divergence (the increasing economic gulf between the West and the Rest) is over. If this is true, then Tarun Khanna's Billions of Entrepreneurs gives an outline of how this divergence has been closed in the last three decades and how Chinese and Indian entrepreneurs are preparing to compete for a share of our buying power. The twenty-first century will be so much fun; Billions of Entrepreneurs deserves four glittering stars.
Rather than make a case for mirror images, Professor Khanna argues that good businesses will gain benefits from both countries by coordinating resources and market positions. His main example is a chapter explaining what General Electric has done in both countries.
I thought the best part of the book was arguing that natives of each country develop solutions for how to create more successful businesses. That's a point that few multinational companies are going to consider seriously enough.
I always enjoy reading about examples of superior business models, and this book is relatively rich in describing businesses that contain interesting twists on traditional ways of operating. I also didn't know the history of how many of the major new businesses in India got their start.
I hope that Professor Khanna will follow up this book with a narrower focus on the opportunities for small company entrepreneurs in both countries. I think he would do a fine job and the information would be valuable to a much larger audience than this book will probably command.