Indian railways - world’s largest commercial employer’s social capital inventory

Vijay Pereira, Gopalakrishnan Narayanamurthy

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    Abstract

    Study level/applicability - The target audiences for the case study are undergraduate and postgraduate (e.g. BSc, MSc as well as MBA) students and also management trainees and executives who are interested in understanding the social capital enhancing practices, policies and strategies adopted by the world’s largest commercial employer to ensure complete satisfaction and contentment of 1.7 million employees and their family. Even senior management teams could be targeted in executive education programs, as this case discusses time tested practices, policies and strategies which have been sparsely discussed so far and hence can be expected to provide insights to senior corporate managers. The case also demonstrates the application of different frameworks on social capital and corporate social responsibility which can be used by the participants in their firms to assess the social capital.

    Case overview - Indian Railways (IR) remains the world’s largest commercial employer, with approximately 1.7 million employees, which conveys the huge magnitude of social capital inventory accrued. This social capital, especially people side of IR, played a very crucial role in running the organization successfully for more than a century. As an organization, IR has guaranteed heavy importance for its employees while making decisions on strategic level. But recently, IR was moving towards automation and was cutting on cost incurred for its employees. IR was already exhibiting decreasing trend in the number of employees employed in the organization. These initiatives were resisted by IR employees due to fear of job losses and insecurity. In 2013, Chief Personnel Officer’s (CPO) of different zones have to rethink about their HR practices to assure confidence for employees on the security of their jobs and sustain the social capital accrued by IR over years. The objective of this case study is to describe the social capital accrued by IR over the years by offering livelihoods for nearly 1.7 million families across the country. Teaching note applies the frameworks on social capital in literature in the context of IR. Teaching note also discusses how CPOs of IR can pursue the change initiatives among the employees without affecting the social capital accrued so far.

    Expected learning outcomes - Case study’s primary objective is to apply frameworks available in literature on social capital and corporate social responsibility to understand the social capital accrued by IR over decades. The case study attempts to answer the following assignment questions which forms the learning objectives of this case study: How do the existing frameworks on social capital measurement explain the social capital accrued by IR over decades? How can a firm assess its accrued social capital? How can one demonstrate the same using the case of IR? How can IR pursue change initiatives when it comes to its employees without affecting the social capital accrued over time?
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalEmerald Emerging Markets Case Studies
    Early online date19 Aug 2016
    DOIs
    Publication statusEarly online - 19 Aug 2016

    Keywords

    • India
    • social entrepreneurship
    • railways
    • social capital
    • HR practices
    • public sector management

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