Mahindra USA inc. (MUSA), a wholly owned subsidiary of Mahindra group, is now a case study on reverse innovation at TUCK Executive Education, Dartmouth. Prof Vijay Govindarajan and Prof Chris Tremble of TUCK, who have defined reverse innovation as something conceived in the developing world and then spreading to the developed world, have compiled a profile of such companies in their book “Reverse Innovation: Create Far from Home, Win everywhere” and MUSA is one of them.
Mahindra entered the US tractor market in 1994 and rather than competing with the market leaders like John Deere, they focused on a smaller niche market of hobby farmers, landscapers, and building contractors and combined this with innovative marketing and sales strategies. While Mahindra’s tractor segment here seems to have been noticed, the same can’t be said about Mahindra passenger cars. A group of US automobile dealers last year filed a lawsuit against Mahindra & Mahindra and its U.S. counterpart. The allegations pointed to fraud, misrepresentation and conspiracy.
Since 2006, Mahindra’s investment was a $100 million on their US project, but that was stalled after the lawsuit. As such, the Mahindra USA Reverse Innovation study at Tuck Executive Education may seem a bit ironic. Prof. Govindrajan had this to say, The Mahindra USA case study is one of the excellent examples whereby senior leaders at our Executive Program can understand the challenges as well as the frustrations they will face on the road to innovation. The tapestry of geographies and cultures in which executives pursue efforts in reverse innovation are likely to demand considerable adaptation and sometimes even improvisation. The Mahindra USA story can show executives that in the pursuit of reverse innovation’s rewards, one can be both disciplined and flexible.”