Ratan Tata: Leading the Tata Group into the 21st Century

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Case Details:

Case Code : BSTR284
Case Length : 19 Pages
Period : 1991-2008
Pub Date : 2008
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : Tata Group
Industry : Diversified
Countries : India

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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"He [Ratan Tata] comes across as an individual with clarity and conviction, a business leader with vision. Ratan Tata has steered the Tata ship in turbulent times. ...above all, I have an immense admiration for Ratan Tata, the man, for his unassuming and warm nature, an outstanding business leader imbued with social concerns and committed to uphold ethics and values."1

- Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries2, December 29, 2001.

"[Ratan] Tata understood what needed to be done and how it needed to be done."3

- Henry Schacht, former chairman of Cummins Engine, USA.


On January 10, 2008, Tata Motors,4 a Tata Group5 company, unveiled the Nano, an entry-level small car, at the 9th Auto Expo held in New Delhi. The Nano, expected to be commercially launched in late 2008, was to be priced at around Rs. 100,000 (ex-factory) (around US$ 2,500) making it the cheapest car in the world. The car was the dream project of Ratan Naval Tata (Ratan Tata), the chairman of Tata Sons6 (Refer Exhibit I for the businesses of the Tata Group). According to Ratan Tata, the inspiration for developing the Nano had come to him on a rainy day when he had seen a family of four traveling precariously perched on a two-wheeler. This gave him the idea of creating a vehicle for the masses that would make travel for the middle class less dangerous.

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1] "Mukesh Ambani on Ratan Tata,"www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com, December 29, 2001.

2] Reliance Industries, founded by Dhirubhai Ambani in 1977, is India's largest private sector enterprise and a Fortune 500 company. It has a major presence in the energy, textiles, and retail businesses.

3] Robyn Meredith, "Tempest in a Teapot,"www.forbes.com, February 14, 2005.

4] Tata Motors is a Tata Group company which manufactures cars, trucks, buses, etc.

5] The Tata Group is one of India's largest and oldest business conglomerates and is controlled by Tata Sons.

6] Tata Sons is the premier promoter company of the Tata Group. It was established as a trading enterprise by Group founder Jamsetji Tata in 1868. It is the promoter of all key companies of the Tata Group. The chairman of Tata Sons has traditionally been the chairman of the Tata Group. Tata Sons is the owner of the Tata brand and the Tata trademark, which are registered in India and several other countries. These are used by various Tata companies in relation to their products and services. (Source: www.tata.com)

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