Today's Business Standard editorial makes up for what was missing elsewhere. The edit makes three important points:
- Prahalad was good at articulating existing practices rather than predicting future trends. 'Core competence' had come into being at many MNCs long before Prahalad wrote about it. This stands to reason. That is what the case method that Prahalad was raised on at IIMA and HBS is all about.
- Co-opetition, taking the customer into account in designing products, is elementary marketing
- Bottom of the pyramid, his most famous theory, is not about making money from the poor, it is more about designing products for the lower middle class in the rural areas.
The idea that we can leave it to companies to alleviate poverty can be dangerous because it provides another argument for government to vacate the space, something that neo-liberals would pounce on. Thank God, we are thinking in terms of right to education and right to food instead of embracing the BoP thesis.
The BS edit has a scathing finale:
Perhaps the best commentary on its (BoP's ) efficacy came from Praja, the BOP company Prahalad co-founded to provide a platform for common people to personalise their own experiences on the Internet. In 2002, the company was sold having made a $55 million loss and laid off one-third of its staff!Must people abandon their critical sense in paying tributes to the departed? Whatever Prahalad's gifts of exposition, comparing him with Peter Drucker was quite a stretch.