Sumantra Ghoshal (1948–2004) was an academic and management guru. NR Narayana Murthy, Chairman of Infosys Technologies, the leading IT Company in India, said, “He was the rare management guru who brought with him a unique mixture of theory and practice. In his relatively short academic and consulting career spanning nearly two decades, Ghoshal did extensive research and consulting on the strategic, organizational and managerial issues faced by global corporations.

Sumantra’s research efforts resulted in the development of an invaluable management literature comprising 12 books, 70 articles and numerous case studies. His works were well acclaimed by both academicians and practitioners. For instance, his book ‘Managing across Borders: The Transnational Solution,’ co-authored with the Harvard Business School Professor Christopher Bartlett (Bartlett) found a place in the Financial Times list of the 50 most influential management books of all time. The book was translated into nine languages. Apart from his contributions to the academic world, Ghoshal had been equally active in the corporate world. He was the Chairman of the Supervisory Board at the Duncan Goenka Group and Mahindra British Telecom in India.

He was also a Board member of the Lufthansa School of Business, Swiss Re, McKinsey & Company and member of Board of Overseers at Harvard Business School. While serving at LBS, Ghoshal continued his teaching and consulting assignments in several organizations across the world. Anil Ambani, Deputy Chairman and MD, Reliance Industries Limited, said, “Sumantra Ghoshal has enriched many young minds all over the world by his books and articles, providing an insight to business, industry and management. His contribution to world institutes, including London Business School, is most noteworthy and his theories and philosophy will live forever, guiding the future generation.”

Ghoshal’s Background and Personality

Ghoshal was born in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) on September 26, 1948. He graduated in Physics from Ramjas College, Delhi University, in 1970. After graduation, he joined the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) as a management trainee. Ghoshal worked at IOC for the next 12 years, during which time he rose through the ranks. During this period, he developed a keen interest in studying various organizations. During his stint at IOC, he held key positions in various departments, including General Management (Divisional Manager), Marketing (Product Manager), Finance (Accounts Officer) and Operations (Installation Manager). Ghoshal’s interest in management encouraged him to pursue management education in the US in 1981. He pursued his MS in International Business at MIT’s Sloan School of Management between 1981 and 1983. He followed it up with pursuing two PhD programs simultaneously – one at MIT, in International Business, which he completed in 1985, and another at Harvard Business School in Business Policy, which he completed in 1986.

In 1985, Ghoshal joined INSEAD Business School in France. Between 1985 and 1994, he undertook several teaching assignments, including major ones as Professor of Business Policy at INSEAD and as Professor in International Business at Sloan School of Management…

The Recognition

The years of dedicated research conducted by Ghoshal earned him widespread recognition. He was viewed in the league of management legends like Peter Drucker and Charles Handy.

His original thinking in management disciplines, such as corporate strategy and globalization, made him one of the most popular figures in global business and the academic community, which witnessed the arrival and quick departure of several management thinkers. The Economist, known for its frank expression of opinion on any issue or personality, addressed Ghoshal as ‘Euro Guru’…