Indian railways: rail ways for Indians

Gopalakrishnan Narayanamurthy, Vijay Pereira

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    India has and is undergoing sweeping economic changes lately. There are several organisations who have supported this positive change. Of these, one such organisation, which shouldered the infrastructural burden of the transportation sector in India’s growth story, was the 160 year old Indian Railways (IR), the world’s largest commercial employer. IR’s profit over the last few years was a far cry from its loss making days, which tempted the government of India to consider privatisation in 2001. The transformational turnaround would not have been possible but for IR’s employees. After celebrating IR’s 160th anniversary in 2013, the case organization wished to revisit its HR practices to understand its recent economic transformations and to strategize how they can improve and sustain maximum efficiency in future.

    The objective of this case study is to understand the ‘people side’ of IR by explaining its current HR practices, and to investigate and identify changes over the years so that changes then can be implemented in the context of HR practices for the future. Hence the case attempts to explain the role of human resource management in IR’s turnaround strategies. Resistance exhibited by IR staff towards its recent initiative of ERP implementation across India due to fear of job losses and insecurity is also discussed in the case. Teaching note for this case study explains existing people management frameworks published in the research literature to class participants by applying it to the case company. In addition, teaching note also discusses how Chief Personnel Officers (CPO’s) of IR can pursue the change initiatives among the employees with least resistance. Changes/initiatives that can be imbibed by the CPO’s in the existing HR practices to overcome the resistance exerted by the employees and to improve the existing system is also discussed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-30
    JournalEmerald Emerging Markets Case Studies
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2 May 2016


    • Public Sector Management
    • Human Resource Management


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