- Born in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India.
- Received BSc from Loyola College, the University of Madras.
- Worked as an industrial engineer for Union Carbide.
- Received MBA from the Indian Institute of Management.
- Received DBA from Harvard Business School.
- Appointed Visiting Research Fellow at Harvard Business School.
- Appointed Professor and Chairman of the Management Education Program, Indian Institute of Management.
- Appointed Associate Professor of Business Administration, University of Michigan Business School.
- Appointed Visiting Professor at INSEAD, France.
- Appointed Professor of Corporate Strategy and International Business at the Graduate School of Business Administration, University of Michigan.
- Publication of Competing for the Future.
- Received the Lal Bahadur Shastri Award for contributions to Management and Public Administration.
- Publication of The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid.
- Publication of The Future of Competition.
- Publication of The New Age of Innovation.
- Died in San Diego, California.
C. K. Prahalad is an important figure in the development of management strategy, as well as a professor of corporate strategy, writer, and consultant. He studied at the Indian Institute of Management, before completing his MBA, and then his DBA at Harvard. He was co-founder and CEO of Praja Inc, a software company sold to TIBCO, in the US, in 2002. He is also a member of the blue ribbon commission of the United Nations on Private Sector and Development, and serves on the board of directors of NCR Corporation, Hindustan Lever Limited, and the World Resources Institute. He is also the chairman and founder of The Next Practice.
Prahalad’s research has concentrated on the ability of large organizations to maintain their competitiveness when faced with international competition, and a changing business environment.
He has analyzed strategic intent, and how the corporate imagination has to be able to access the potential of core competencies, arguing that organizations must have the imagination to visualize new markets, and the ability to move into them ahead of the competition.
The four elements that help this imaginative effort are the ability to look beyond existing markets, the search for innovative products, the overturning of assumptions over price and performance, and being able to lead (rather than follow) customers.
In his work with Gary Hamel on Competing for the Future, he presents a new view of competitiveness, strategy, and organizations, taking the ideas of strategic intent, core competence, and strategy as stretch and leverage, and develops them into a new strategy model.
His concept of strategic intent is about being successful at all levels and functions of an organization; it uses stretch targets to create competitive advantage, and is based on senior management developing the organization in a strategic way.
This far-reaching work shows how a core competency (a term he helped originate) is based on an ability to transcend products and markets, and should result when an organization is able to combine different technologies, learning, and relationships.
In The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, he shows how multinational companies can seize the opportunity presented by the world’s poor—as both a growth market for the right business model, and as a pool of potential innovators.
It also presents a strategic framework for leveraging corporate resources towards strategic intent, by presenting an overview of how an industry can evolve.
In The New Age of Innovation, he shows how value creation needs business managers to transform their processes, technical systems and supply chain management to implement social and technological infrastructure changes capable of improving the chances of successful corporate and product innovation.
“Strategy is about stretching limited resources to fit ambitious aspirations.”
- Hamel, Gary, and C. K. Prahalad. Competing for the Future. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 1994.
- Prahalad, C. K., and M. S. Krishnan. The New Age of Innovation: Driving Co-created Value Through Global Networks. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008.
- Prahalad, C. K., and Venkat Ramaswamy. The Future of Competition: Co-creating Unique Value with Customers. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2004.