Lourens van Haaften

KU Leuven


Lourens van Haaften is a historian with a special interest in the relations between Europe and India in contemporary history. He obtained a Research Master ‘Modern History’ at the Utrecht University (the Netherlands), in which he specialised in EU foreign relations and India’s contemporary history. He worked as a junior lecturer in International Relations at the Utrecht University and as a junior researcher for the Dutch Advisory Council for International Affairs (AIV), that advices government and parliament on foreign affairs. In his Global India research project, he will study the emergence and development of business and management schools that were founded by Belgian Jesuit missionaries in the 1980s and 1990s in India. The research is supervised by prof.dr. Idesbald Godderis and conducted at Leuven University (KU Leuven).

PhD Abstract

In 1961/62, India opened its first management education institutes. The schools were initiated by the Indian government as part of the industrialization politics of Nehru, in collaboration with the United States’ Harvard Business School and MIT. Today, India has thousands of business management institutes to educate the new generations of young Indians for careers in the national and international corporate sector. This rise in the number and prestige of management institutes has turned business management into one of the key symbols for India’s transformation into a globalized and modern country.

This research project will examine the social ramification of the introduction of this new field of knowledge into the India society. It will ask, how has the introduction of western management knowledge created new Indian subjects? How did the business schools shape a class of modern Indian business managers and administrators? To what extent did these business management institutes function as key sites for the ideological making of a ‘new India’?

To answer these questions, the project makes a localized analysis of the development of two of the top-level management institutes of the country from the 1960s to present: The Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad and XLRI Jamshedpur. The historical research uses of archival material, including curricula, speeches, and annual reports available at the institutes. In addition to this, semi-structured interviews are conducted with faculty, directors and alumni of the management schools. The study aims to put the development of business education in India in a larger historical perspective and explores the impact of the diffusion of western management ideas in the transformation of modern India. This will enable to get a deeper understanding of the emergence of a particular Indian modern business culture.