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Professor Dipak C. Jain

e-Jain Digest I e-Jain Digest October 2009 

Empowerment based on Jain Values

Reproduced form a previous issue of Jain Digest.

"Don’t give up learning. Learning is not only what you get at school it is also at work. So let learning be your guide as you move forward. Keep creating new opportunities for yourself and the people who work for you. Make sure that your decisions are driven by the right values and don’t give up on ethical behavior.”

"If you take the ‘L’ from ‘learning,’ the ‘O’ from ‘opportunity,’ the ‘V’ from ‘values’ and the ‘E’ from ‘ethics,’ you know what it means. Feel the love, love your work and spread the love around.”

The words above are those of person who grew up in Tezpur (Assam) and got his master’s degree in mathematical statistics from Guwahati University in 1978. The path that led this bright young man from a lecturer in Guwahati University to the Dean of one of the top rated Business Management School in the world is truly amazing.

Dipakji was brought up in a religious Digambara Jain Family. The Jain values were ingrained in him. While studying and teaching at Guwahati University, he would regularly go the Jain temple located in central Guwahati about 20kms from the campus. Dipakji carried with him the values of peace, patience, forgiveness, etc., all ingredients of Ahimsa; when he departed India on Jan 6, 1983 for his further studies at the University of Texas, Dallas.

Dipakji’s intellect, analytical skills and teaching abilities were aptly demonstrated right from his college days in India. He was the recipient of the Jawaharlal Nehru Merit Award, Government of India, Gold Medalist for both his graduate and post-graduate studies in Guwahati, and was awarded the Outstanding Educator Award by the State of Assam in 1982. The quality of his work in UT-Dallas could be noticed by quality of his early papers and the awards he received.

While Dipakji credits having the right kind of knowledge at the right time for his selection as Assistant Professor of Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, we should look at a slightly larger picture behind his modesty. The applications resulting form the growth of computing and networking industry were already starting to produce a large amount of data. This raw data needed to be appropriately analyzed and processed to generate useful information and knowledge of customer behavior. The marketing professional of the next generation would have to develop insight of the customer behavior patterns from the information and knowledge gained. The award-worthy research papers[1] based on Dipakji’s original research work demonstrated his strong statistical, mathematical and analytical ability. However, we believe that during the numerous interviews and lectures that he must have given at the Kellogg School, Dipakji must have effectively presented the vision of a management school of the future.

Once in Kellogg Dipakji has been consistently awarded for his outstanding teaching and research. In a relatively short span of 15 years Dipakji grew form an Assistant Professor of Marketing to the Dean of Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. Now at the helm of a highly recognized Management Schools for 6 years, he is converting his vision that he envisioned, about 20 years ago into reality. As a Sandy and Morton Goldman Professor in Entrepreneurial Studies and a professor of marketing at the Kellogg School, Dipakji continues his activities of research and teaching. His research areas include the marketing of high-tech products; market segmentation and competitive market structure analysis; cross-cultural issues in global product diffusion; new product diffusion; and forecasting models. He has more than 50 papers published in leading academic journals. In 2003, he was appointed as a foreign affairs adviser for the Prime Minister of Thailand. He has served as a consultant to many organizations and also serves as a member of the board of directors of Hartmarx Corporation, John Deere and Company, Northern Trust Corporation, and Peoples Energy. He is also a former director of United Airlines.

Dipakji has always believed that one does not win by putting another person or organization down. He strives to get the best out of people around him, may it be a student, a person working for him, his peer, or for that matter even his superior. He achieves this goal by following the practice of non-violence. His approach of patience, forgiveness and above all recognizing the diversity of human nature the way it is, has helped him bring about a change in people around him. Dipakji treasures his relationship with the former Dean, now Dean Emeritus of Kellogg School Donald Jacobs. While, he does not take full credit for converting Dean Jacobs to a vegetarian, he definitely had a lot of influence on him. Since, taking over as Dean, he has driven Kellogg to create leaders that can not only effectively manage and foster a team but ensure and make people in the team believe they are growing. This, in his view, is the single largest attribute that generates employee loyalty, and employee loyalty is one of the biggest assets a corporation can have. In his view fear, intimidation, or short-term incentives do not work in the long-term. The partner-centric organization of Kellogg, where all students and instructors work as partners imparts this training. This technique of training not only builds strong analytical and communication skills needed by a strong leader but also makes the individual a socially responsible leader.

Dipakji has successfully demonstrated that certain values emphasized in the Indian culture can be very effective tools for next generation of Global Leaders. However instead of using any Indian epic to explain the importance of these values he uses Shakespeare for the same purpose. In an eloquently written article he draws an analogy between Shakespeare’s writing and its relevance to modern leadership. The article brings out how positive attributes like forgiveness, honesty, community value, justice, etc, build better leaders, while negatives such as greed, jealousy, etc. are detrimental to society and to the very self-interest of leaders themselves. He also brings out the point that good leader will not ask the team members to do anything the leader would not attempt himself/herself.

Dipakji places values at the center of a framework for personal growth, which he sees as supported by three main forces: IQ (mental intelligence), EQ (emotional intelligence) and MQ (moral intelligence). While the first of these may be recognized as a traditional marker of intelligence, it is the second two – which Dipakji describes as emotional intelligence and moral intelligence – that interest him most. Without these two elements, your values can’t be fully lived and don’t have an impact on those around you. As he is fond of saying: "To forgive is good, to forget is better and to move forward is the best.”

The marketing pundits have their different ways of understanding the marketing framework, for example, Dr Kotler's long-standing theory of four Ps - product, price, promotion, and place, or Dr. Jagdish N. Sheth’s (also follower of Jain Tradition) new framework of four As - acceptability, affordability, accessibility and awareness. Dipakji points to the need of a fifth P (People). In his view business is about people, the trust and confidence that a customer has is what makes a business. Companies need to create value for their customers, capture that value, and present the value to the customers. Once the customer understands the value offered that goes beyond the product they will appropriately pay for the product.

As the guest editors of a Jain magazine we are also tempted to analyze the relationship of Dipakji with his customers; may it be students, peers or colleagues, companies, other persons he deals with. It seems he has followed a three prong formula of:

a) Faith (Value System & Proper Perception)

b) Knowledge (Analysis, Information, Insight and Research)

c) Conduct (Following the values system and impressing other of the value system).

[1] "Effect of Price on the Demand for Durables: Modeling, Estimation and Findings," (with Ram C. Rao), Journal of Business and Economic Statistics, 8, (April 1990), 163-170. (A review of this paper was published in the International Journal of Forecasting.)

"Modeling Purchase Timing and Brand Switching Behavior Incorporating Explanatory Variables and Unobserved Heterogeneity," (with Naufel J. Vilcassim), Journal of Marketing Research, 28, (February 1991), 29-41. (A finalist for the O'Dell Award)

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