C. K. Prahalad

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C. K. Prahalad
CK Prahalad WEForum 2009.jpg
Prahalad on 8 November 2009, at World Economic Forum's India Economic Summit 2009.
Born (1941-08-08)8 August 1941[1]
Coimbatore, British India (now Tamil Nadu, India)
Died 16 April 2010(2010-04-16) (aged 68)[2]
San Diego
Nationality Indian American
Citizenship India
Alma mater Loyola College, Chennai
IIM Ahmedabad
Harvard Business School
Occupation Professor
Religion Hindu
Spouse(s) Gayatri
Children Murali Krishna, Deepa[3]

Coimbatore Krishnarao Prahalad (Kannada:ಕೋಯಮ್ಬತುರೆ ಕೃಷ್ಣರಾವ್ ಪ್ರಹಲಾದ್) (8 August 1941 – 16 April 2010)[1] was the Paul and Ruth McCracken Distinguished University Professor of Corporate Strategy at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business in the University of Michigan. During his life, he was frequently ranked as one of the most prominent business thinkers in the world.

He was renowned as the co-author of "Core Competence of the Corporation"[4] (with Gary Hamel) and "The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid"[5] (with Stuart L. Hart).

On 16 April 2010, Prahalad died of a previously undiagnosed lung illness in San Diego, California.[6] He was 68 at the time of his death, but he left a large body of work behind.

Early life[edit]

Prahalad was the ninth of eleven children born in 1941 in to a Kannada speaking family in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. His father was a well-known Tamil scholar and judge in Chennai.[7] At 19, he joined Union Carbide, he was recruited by the manager of the local Union Carbide battery plant after completing his BSc degree in Physics from Loyola College, Chennai, part of the University of Madras. He worked there for four years. Prahalad called his Union Carbide experience a major inflection point in his life. Four years later, he did his post graduate work in management at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad.

At Harvard Business School, Prahalad wrote a doctoral thesis on multinational management in just two and a half years, graduating with a DBA degree in 1975.[8]

Professorship and teaching[edit]

After graduating from Harvard, Prahalad returned to his master's degree alma mater, the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad. But he soon returned to the United States, when in 1977, he was hired by the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business Administration, where he advanced to the top tenured appointment as a full professor. In 2005, Dr. Prahalad earned the university's highest distinction, Distinguished University Professor.


Writings, interests, and business experience[edit]

In the earlier days of Prahalad's fame as established management guru, in the beginning of the 90's, he advised Philips' Jan Timmer on the restructuring of this electronic corporation, then on the brink of collapse. With the resulting, successful, 2–3-year long Operation Centurion he also frequently stood for the Philips management troops.

C. K. Prahalad is the co-author of a number of well known works in corporate strategy, including The Core Competence of the Corporation (with Gary Hamel, Harvard Business Review, May–June 1990) which continues to be one of the most frequently reprinted articles published by the Harvard Business Review.[9] He authored or co-authored several international best-sellers, including: Competing for the Future (with Gary Hamel, 1994), The Future of Competition (with Venkat Ramaswamy, 2004), and The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty through Profits (Wharton School Publishing, 2004). His last book, co-authored by M. S. Krishnan and published in April 2008, is called The New Age of Innovation.

Prahalad was co-founder and became CEO of Praja Inc. ("Praja" from a Sanskrit word "Praja" which means "citizen" or "common people"). The goals of the company ranged from allowing common people to access information without restriction (this theme is related to the "bottom of pyramid" or BOP philosophy) to providing a testbed for various management ideas. The company eventually laid off 1/3 of its workforce and was sold to TIBCO. In 2004, Prahalad also co-founded the boutique management consultancy, The Next Practice, to support companies in implementing the strategies outlined in The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid. The company continues in operation today.[10] At the time of his death, he was still on the board of TiE, The Indus Entrepreneurs.

Prahalad has been among top ten management thinkers in every major survey for over ten years. Business Week said of him: "a brilliant teacher at the University of Michigan, he may well be the most influential thinker on business strategy today." He was a member of the Blue Ribbon Commission of the United Nations on Private Sector and Development. He was the first recipient of the Lal Bahadur Shastri Award for contributions to Management and Public Administration presented by the President of India in 1999.

Honors and awards[edit]

  • In 2009, he was awarded Pravasi Bharatiya Sammaan.[12]
  • In 2011, the Southern Regional Headquarters of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) was named as Prof C K Prahalad Center

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Notable Alumni: Dr. C K Prahalad. IIMA USA Chapter.
  2. ^ Stern, Stefan (19 April 2010). "Manifesto writer for business survival". Financial Times. 
  3. ^ "Management guru C K Prahalad dead". Deccan Herald. 17 April 2010. Retrieved 24 April 2012. 
  4. ^ Prahalad, C.K.; Hamel, Gary (May 1990). "Core Competence of the Corporation". Harvard Business Review (Harvard Business Publishing). 
  5. ^ Prahalad, C.K.; Hart, Stuart L. (2002). "The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid". strategy + business (Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.). 
  6. ^ Stern, Stefan (19 April 2010). "Manifesto writer for business survival". Financial Times. 
  7. ^ "C. K. Prahalad, Proponent of Poor as Consumers, Dies at 68". New York Times. 21 April 2010. Retrieved 11 June 2012. 
  8. ^ Professor C.K. Prahalad
  9. ^ Schumpeter (24 April 2010). "The guru of the bottom of the pyramid". The Economist. 
  10. ^ http://www.thenetpractice.com
  11. ^ Prahalad, C.K. "The Role of Core Competencies in the Corporation," Research-Technology Management, Vol. 36, No. 6 (November–December 1993), pp. 40–47.
  12. ^ "The NRIs who made India feel proud". Rediff. Retrieved 24 April 2012. 
  13. ^ "The Thinkers50 Ranking 2009". Thinkers50. Retrieved 29 January 2015. 
  14. ^ "Viipuri Prize goes posthumously to world-renowned Professor C.K. Prahalad". Lappeenranta University of Technology. 16 November 2010. Retrieved 11 June 2012. 
  15. ^ "The Viipuri Prize". Lappeenranta University of Technology. Retrieved 11 June 2012. 

External links[edit]