Microcapitalism and the mega-corporation

Harv Bus Rev. 2003 Aug;81(8):46-54, 139.


More than 100 miles from Bangalore, India, there's a rural area called Kuppam where one in three citizens is illiterate, more than half of the households have no electricity, and there's a high rate of AIDS. It's exactly this challenging atmosphere that prompted Hewlett-Packard to choose Kuppam as one of its first "i-communities" initiatives. Through the program, HP creates public-private partnerships to accelerate economic development through the application of technology while simultaneously opening new markets and developing new products and services. HP brings to these initiatives the management disciplines of a successful technology business. For example, it unearths customer needs using an iterative cycle that involves prototyping products and services and then closely observing residents' experiences with them. It fields a diversely talented team that brings many skills to the initiative, including deep technical ability, management acumen, and market knowledge. It takes a systems approach, simultaneously examining all the elements that must come together to create a working solution to a given problem. It establishes a "leading platform" on which other players--comapnies, nonprofits, and government agencies--can build technologies and applications. Practices like these help ensure that HP's investment yields real, sustainable results for the community in question. But HP also sees returns to its own business. In Kuppam, the company is discovering the need for (and developing) new products like a solar-powered digital camera, with printer, that fits in a backpack. By engaging the community and its leaders and working with them to design valuable new tools and capabilities, HP is gaining the knowledge it needs to be a stronger competitor in other developing regions.

MeSH terms

  • Developing Countries / economics
  • Economic Competition
  • Humans
  • India
  • Industry / economics*
  • International Cooperation*
  • Investments
  • Marketing
  • Organizational Innovation
  • Planning Techniques
  • Private Sector
  • Product Line Management
  • Public Sector
  • Technology / economics*
  • United States