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Bhaskar Chakravorti    

Renowned Author and Expert on Global Innovation and Opportunities in Emerging Markets, Adversity and Crises

Business leaders are naturally students of the big picture; Bhaskar Chakravorti challenges them to think even bigger – and more globally and lead with high “contextual intelligence.” With more than 20 years experience spanning academia, consulting, industry and high-tech research and development, he is an authority on globalization and opportunities created by emerging markets and crises. Renowned for his work on innovation, which he “sees as an opportunity for collaboration and mutual benefit among nations rather than a zero sum race against rising economic giants,” Chakravorti is Senior Associate Dean of International Business and Finance of the Fletcher School at Tufts University. He is also founding executive director of Tufts’ Institute for Business in the Global Context and its Center for Emerging Markets Enterprises (CEME), a global hub for emerging thinking on emerging markets, and serves the Fletcher faculty as a Professor of Practice in International Business and Chair of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Working Group for Tufts T10. A former partner of McKinsey & Company, where he led its Innovation and Global Forces practices, Chakravorti has advised more than 30 companies in the Fortune 500, policy makers, investors and entrepreneurs, spanning multiple geographies and industries. He is also organizer of multiple conferences on emerging markets, inclusive growth and seeking opportunities in crises.

A Distinguished Scholar at MIT’s Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship, Chakravorti served on the faculty at Harvard Business School (HBS), teaching innovation, entrepreneurship management and new venture formation. He also co-chaired an immersion program to India, and published research on innovations triggered by adversity and crises. His book, “The Slow Pace of Fast Change: Bringing Innovations to Market in a Connected World” (HBRP, 2003), was selected as one of the Best Business Books of the year by multiple publications and was an best-seller in Innovation, and continues to influence business strategy and policy recommendations. He is working on his next book mapping the innovator’s itinerary from Iceland to Novosibirsk.

An engaging and insightful presenter, Chakravorti has been invited to speak to audiences in business, academia, public policy-making bodies (e.g., FCC, Capitol Hill), multi-lateral entities (e.g., World Bank, ITU), futurist think-tanks (e.g., Aspen Institute, GBN), the investor community and an advisory committee to the U.S. president. He has authored more than 40 articles, published in top-tier, peer-reviewed academic journals (e.g., Journal of Economic Theory, Journal of Mathematical Economics, Journal of Economics and Management Strategy, Games & Economic Behavior, International Economic Review and many others), and widely read media outlets, including Harvard Business Review, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, CNN, CNBC, Foreign Affairs and Economic Times. He is a columnist for The Indian Express and has published more than a dozen HBS case studies and authored two websites on innovation and on public safety.

Chakravorti’s prior appointments also include partner of global strategy firm Monitor Group; game theorist and member of the technical staff at Bellcore (formerly Bell Labs); assistant professor of economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and officer of TAS, the executive cadre for the Tata Group, India's pre-eminent conglomerate. He holds a PhD in economics from the University of Rochester where he was a University Fellow, and is a graduate of the Delhi School of Economics and Delhi’s St. Stephen’s College.

Speech Topics

Closing America’s Globalization Gap

As Americans continue to worry about the aftermath of the 2008 crisis – slow recovery, unsteady job market and losing the race with China among other concerns – business and policy leaders must realize that to bring growth back to the U.S., American business must go where the growth is: fast-moving emerging markets. These markets will soon represent more than half of the world’s output and are growing three times as fast as Western markets. Surprisingly, American companies make less than 10 percent of their revenues from these dynamic markets. American globalization is a myth. Dig deeper and we realize just how far behind American businesses are and how much business growth potential they are missing. Bhaskar Chakravorti discusses the reasons for this puzzle, what we can do about it and how we can find profitable growth by expanding our horizons beyond the Western hemisphere.

Finding Competitive Advantage in Adversity

The “new normal” has meant doing more with less in adverse circumstances – either because of austerity in a slow growth environment or frugality in fast growth but poorer environments, a desire for smaller carbon footprints, simplifying for aging or first-time consumers, tailoring for micro-customization without the redundancy using new technologies. How do some entrepreneurs, corporate innovators, and investors turn adverse conditions to competitive advantage? Bhaskar Chakravorti identifies four areas that the most successful innovators consistently explore.

  1. Reroute resources that become redundant to meet new needs, as Jonathan Bush did at athenahealth. The company is now a leader in internet-based revenue-cycle management tools.

  2. Round up unusual suspects and break industry orthodoxy, as Iqbal Quadir did with Grameenphone in Bangladesh.

  3. Find small solutions to big problems, as Trey Moore and Cameron Powell did with their AirStrip OB smartphone app for mobile physicians who needed a major advance in wireless health care.

  4. Focus on platform, not just product. That’s how Fred Khosravi and Amar Sawhney broadened the field of surgical applications for Incept’s hydrogel technology.

The entrepreneurs who survive in the “new normal” will be those who find counterintuitive solutions to the bottlenecks, constraints, and other difficulties that adversity engenders. Call them the “new abnormals.”

The Death of Cash

While the U.S. is quickly adopting digital and mobile payment systems, our economy still relies heavily on cash transactions. Surprisingly, the cash economy carries a price tag of approximately $200B annually, including billions of dollars lost by businesses to cash theft. Each year, retail businesses lose an estimated $40 billion – equivalent to nearly one percent of their revenues. Bhaskar Chakravorti explains why businesses still rely heavily on cash, despite greater risks, outlines opportunities for innovators to introduce new payment methods to the market, and identifies how businesses can benefit from exploring cash alternatives such as mobile payment services.


The Poor: An Endangered Species? | Bhaskar Chakravorti

More than a billion have been lifted out of poverty in the past twenty years; by 2030, the total number of poor people will be down to 200 million, with virtually ...

It Is Time to Get Rid of the Word 'Charity' | Bhaskar Chakravorti

Dan Pallotta is asking the right question: what prevents social innovation from scaling up? But he is looking for answers in the wrong places.

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