Management science and nation building: The sociotechnical imaginary behind the making of the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad

Lourens van Haaften*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The start of management education in India in the early 1960s has been dominantly described from the perspective of ‘Americanisation’, characterised by isomorphism and mimicry. Existing scholarship has avoided the question of how management education and knowledge were reconciled and naturalised with India’s specific socio-economic contexts. This article addresses the issue and provides a situated account of this complex history by delving into the establishment of the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, one of India’s first and most prominent management schools. Using the concept of sociotechnical imaginary developed by Jasanoff and Kim, the analysis describes how the development of management education and research was aligned with the objective of nation building. The article shows that the project to start management education did not take off before the capitalist connotations, associated with business education, were subtly removed and a narrative was created that put management education in the context of India’s wider development trajectory. Under influence of a changing political atmosphere in the late 1960s, a particular imaginary on the role of management knowledge and education unfolded in the development of the institute, giving the field in India a distinct character in the early 1970s.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-359
Number of pages27
JournalIndian Economic and Social History Review
Issue number3
Early online date13-Jun-2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul-2021
Externally publishedYes


  • management education
  • sociotechnical imaginary
  • Indian Institute of Management
  • Harvard Business School
  • Ford Foundation

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