Sumit Majumdar

About Me

I am currently a Professor of Technology Strategy in the School of Management at the University of Texas at Dallas. Previously I was a Professor of Strategic Management at Imperial College, University of London. Before I re-located to the United Kingdom I was an Assistant Professor of Corporate Strategy at the School of Business Administration, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

 

I received a doctoral degree from the University of Minnesota

Before I entered the program I had spent several years in London having qualified as a Chartered Accountant. I also later qualified as Chartered Management .Accountant. In London I primarily worked in the City and acquired a very detailed knowledge of the insurance sector.

 

I had previously received a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree from the University of Bombay. Bombay and London remain my favorite cities on earth. Both are places where I have spent substantial and formative chunks of my life and every year I still spend substantial periods of time in both Bombay and London.

 

While I am a Bengali in origin the time that I have spent in India has been almost exclusively in Bombay and in spite of its many drawbacks it remains one the most important place in the world that I continuously gravitate to.

 

I had most of my schooling and all of my Indian university education in that city, at the St. Xavier’s School, the Sydenham College of Commerce and Economics and the Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies.

 

My Research

 

Over the course of the last two decades my research has spanned several areas and the details of these are given in the research section of this site.

 

My current interests relate to:

 

Competition policy,

Telecommunications regulation,

Technology strategy, and

Indian business strategy.

 

Competition Policy

 

I have been working extensively on telecommunications mergers for the past few years. I am interested in mergers that take place in other contexts as well as investigating other important concerns of competition policy. In a global context, these concerns have grown as the scope of firms’ activities transcends national boundaries. I am interested in of global mergers in the telecommunications sector.

Other than mergers, there are many issues related to competition policy, such as entry, efficiency and strategic behavior of firms that I take a deep interest in. Other than mergers, there are many issues related to competition policy, such as entry, efficiency and strategic behavior of firms that I take a deep interest in.

 

Telecommunications Regulation

 

In my career I have worked extensively in the area of telecommunications regulation and it is an area that I continue to retain a very active interest in. The technologies within the sector are changing, from fixed line to mobile, and new contexts such as India are emerging. Yet, the key regulatory issues remain the same and there are new challenges to be evaluated as phenomena, such as the Internet and social networking and the semantic web change the conceptual contours of our contemporary consciousness in relation to this sector.

The regulatory challenges are many and I examine them across changing technological and market landscapes.

 

Technology Strategy

 

I have been interested in technology adoption and diffusion, and specifically how institutional factors affect the phenomena. My continuing work in this genre  addresses diffusion questions in the context of the Indian mobile telephone sector. Other than the Indian wireless sector for which I am also engaged in issues of spectrum management, I am interested in the evolution of the wireless markets and firms’ strategic challenges generally.

I am also interested in issues related to firms’ R&D efforts specifically with respect to Indian firms.

 

Indian Business Strategy

 

I have been working on Indian firms’ behavior and performance for over a decade and remain deeply committed to study of the industrial development of India. My research interests on Indian firms and enterprises relate to the themes of: market evolution and competition, entrepreneurship and technological innovation, regulatory and institutional environment, globalization of firms and investments and corporate and organizational governance.

 

My Research Philosophy

 

My interests have been eclectic. For this there are several reasons. My late father was not an academic himself having given up an opportunity to do a doctoral degree at Yale in the late 1940s because he had gotten into India’s administrative service instead had been a student of and influenced by the late Benoy Sarkar, an important Indian scholar, who was an influential social scientist in the mould of Max Weber and a Professor at the University of Calcutta.

 

On the eve of my departure from accountancy into academic pursuits my father mentioned that I ought to keep the big picture in mind while dealing with details and consider various aspects whether they be economic, political or anthropological while seeking resolutions to issues.

 

That is of course easier said than done when entering the academic profession in the United States and especially difficult when a doctoral student. I filed the thought away for future reference.

 

A combination of three things then happened when I came to Minneapolis. I was fortunate that the Department of Strategic Management and Organization was a genuinely eclectic department where doctoral students were treated as junior colleagues.

 

I was even more fortunate that the Wilson Library was next door to the School of Management and I spent several happy hours in it. One day in my first quarter at Minnesota while researching for a paper on Max Weber I came across an article on the Swedish social scientist Gunnar Myrdal where some quotes by the late Nobel Laureate had been included.

 

According to Gunnar Myrdal that he was interested in problems of human existence and on further analysis he had found that these problems did not have an economic component alone but many had social components, some problems had political components, some legal ones and many of the problems had all of the components mingling together.

 

Thus it was extremely important to take an institutional as well as a holistic view of issues and problems and he had eschewed the narrow lens that boundaries of disciplines forced upon scholars. Perhaps it was this approach that had helped him derive fundamental insights about the race problem in America and chronic underdevelopment in Asia well before others had thought about those issues.

 

In my second quarter at Minnesota I took a course with the late Professor Vernon Ruttan on ‘Technology and Development.’ The reading list for the course I discovered to be about thirty five pages long though I am told that in later years it had reached over fifty pages in length.

 

In going through this list and during the rest of the course I discovered institutional economics, not the type that relates to a narrow transaction cost minimizing variety of concerns, but the approach to holistically analyzing institutions that has become fashionable only today. Scholars had been taking such an approach to studying problems two or three or even four decades ago.

 

The die was cast. While I was going to study specific problems relating to industrial performance I would endeavor to take a broad view of the set of issues that I would cover and not constrain myself to certain narrow academic technical issues as many or in fact most scholars do. This I have continued to do now for almost two decades and the issues and topics that I am interested in are given in the sections that detail my research.

 

Such a strategy is not without risk in the stratified academic field given the games that we all play there. A devil may care and damn the consequences approach has much to say for it but also against it. It feels good to have been interdisciplinary. But that approach may go against the grain of the system.

 

We are rewarded for narrowly focused and often exotic papers in specialized journals that are comprehensible or of interest only to an incredibly small minority of individuals all of whom are academics. Yet these articles may simply have no salience in the broader world of business and economic activity that we all claim we are studying.

 

As an individual it has been a source of considerable satisfaction that I have been able to follow the sounds of a distant drummer and develop programs of research on issues and themes that I think are important and cover a range of practical questions related to our contemporary conditions.