Vijay Govindarajan

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Vijay Govindarajan
Vijay Govindarajan.jpg
Govindarajan in 2012
Born (1949-11-18) 18 November 1949 (age 70)
Chennai, Tamilnadu, India
NationalityUnited States
Alma materHarvard Business School (MBA, DBA)
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India
OccupationProfessor and consultant
Known forThree Box Solution
Reverse Innovation
AwardsFellow at the Strategic Management Society
Two-time winner of the McKinsey award for the best article published in Harvard Business Review

Vijay Govindarajan (born 18 November 1949), popularly known as VG, is the Coxe Distinguished Professor (a Dartmouth-wide chair) at Dartmouth College's Tuck School of Business and Marvin Bower Fellow, 2015–16 at Harvard Business School. He worked as General Electric's first chief innovation consultant and professor in residence from 2008–10. He is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author and a two-time winner of the prestigious McKinsey Award for the best article published in Harvard Business Review. VG was inducted into the Thinkers 50 Hall of Fame in 2019 for his life-long work dedicated to the field of management, strategy, and innovation.  VG received Thinkers 50 Distinguished Achievement Awards in two different categories, a rare feat: Breakthrough Idea Award in 2011 and Innovation Award in 2019.  


In 1974, Govindarajan received his chartered accountancy degree, where he was awarded the President’s Gold Medal by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, the award is given to the first ranked chartered accountancy student in India.[1][2] Govindarajan went on to earn his M.B.A. from Harvard Business School in 1976 where he graduated with distinction. Two years later, he earned his D.B.A. from Harvard Business School where he was awarded the Robert Bowne Prize For Best Thesis Proposal.[1]


Govindarajan started his career as a professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad where he served as an associate professor from 1978–80. From 1980 to 1985, Govindarajan served as a visiting associate professor at Harvard University and as an associate professor at Ohio State University.[2] In 1985, he joined the Tuck School of Business as a professor, where he has taught ever since. During his time at Tuck, Govindarajan has also served as a visiting professor at INSEAD's Fontainebleau campus and the International University of Japan.[2]

Govindarajan served as General Electric's first Chief Innovation Consultant and Professor in Residence from 2008–10. While working at GE, Govindarajan co-authored a paper entitled "How GE Is Disrupting Itself" with Chris Trimble and GE's CEO Jeffrey Immelt. "How GE Is Disrupting Itself," which introduced the idea of reverse innovation.[3] HBR picked reverse innovation as one of the Great Moments in Management in the Last Century.

Scholarly Work[edit]

Govindarajan is the author of fourteen books and has published articles in academic journals such as the Academy of Management Journal, the Academy of Management Review and the Strategic Management Journal.[4][5] Govindarajan is a rare faculty who has published more than twenty articles in the top academic journals (Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Strategic Management Journal) and more than twenty articles in prestigious practitioner journals including several best-selling HBR articles. In 2010, Govindarajan's article "Stop The Innovation Wars" was recognized as one of the three best papers published by the Harvard Business Review, receiving the second place prize for that year's McKinsey Awards.[6] His article "Engineering Reverse Innovations" won the McKinsey Award for the Best Article published in HBR in 2015. Govindarajan is the author of a blog featured by the Harvard Business Review[7] where he discusses topics like reverse innovation and global business issues. He is also the author of a column on innovation that is published by BusinessWeek.[8]

Big Ideas[edit]

VG is known for two ideas, Three Box Solution and Reverse Innovation.

Three Box Solution

In a nutshell, the Three-Box Solution describes the framework for managing a business’s responsibility to take action in three time horizons at once: executing the present core business at peak efficiency (Box 1); taking steps to avoid the inhibiting traps of past success (Box 2); and innovating a future built on breakthrough innovations (Box 3). VG’s research has elaborated on the distinctive skills each box requires, how the boxes interrelate, and what it takes to balance them.

Reverse Innovation

Historically, corporations innovated in a rich country like the US and sold those products in a poor country like India. Reverse innovation is doing exactly the opposite. It is about innovating in a poor country like India and selling those products in a rich country like the US. VG’s research has focused on questions like: What are the conditions in which reverse innovation presents a big opportunity? How to develop new products in poor countries? How to design the strategy and organization to execute reverse innovation?

Selected Publications[edit]

Three Box Solution

  • The Three Box Solution Playbook, HBR Press, April 2020.
  • "The Scary Truth About Corporate Survival," Harvard Business Review, December 2016.
  • "Planned Opportunism," Harvard Business Review, May 2016.
  • The Three Box Solution: A Strategy For Leading Innovation, HBR Press, April 2016.
  • Beyond The Idea: How to Execute Innovation in Any Organization, St. Martin’s Press, 2013 (with Chris Trimble).
  • How Stella Saved the Farm: A Tale About Making Innovation Happen, St. Martin’s Press, 2013 (with Chris Trimble).
  • "The CEO's Role in Business Model Reinvention," Harvard Business Review, January 2011, 89(1-2) (with Chris Trimble).
  • "Transforming Your Organization with the Three-Box Approach," Harvard Business Review, January 2011 (with Brian Goldner).
  • The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge, Harvard Business Press, 2010 (with Chris Trimble).
  • "Stop the Innovation Wars," Harvard Business Review, July 2010, 88(7), pp. 76-83 (with Chris Trimble). McKinsey Award for the Best HBR Article, Second Place.
  • Ten Rules for Strategic Innovators – from Idea to Execution, Harvard Business School Press, 2005 (with Chris Trimble).
  • "Building Breakthrough Businesses Within Established Organizations," Harvard Business Review, May 2005, 83(5), pp 58-68 (with Chris Trimble).

Reverse Innovation

  • "Transforming Health Care From The Ground Up," Harvard Business Review, July-August 2018 (with Ravi Ramamurti).
  • "Engineering Reverse Innovation," Harvard Business Review, July-August 2016 (with Amos Winter). McKinsey Award for the Best HBR Article, First Place[9]
  • "Delivering World Class Healthcare, Affordably," Harvard Business Review, November 2013 (with Ravi Ramamurti).
  • Reverse Innovation: Create Far From Home, Win Everywhere, Harvard Business Review Press, 2012 (with Chris Trimble). NYT, WSJ, and USA Today Best Seller.
  • "Reverse Innovation Playbook," Harvard Business Review, April 2012.
  • "Reverse Innovation, Emerging Markets, and Global Strategy," Global Strategy Journal, 2011, pp. 191-205. Winner at the EUropean Business School's international competition for Best Paper published in 2011 on Innovation Management. Winner of the Best Article Award from the Strategiv Management Society.
  • "Designing a $300 House," The HBR Agenda 2011, Harvard Business Review, January 2011, 89(1-2).
  • "How GE Is Disrupting Itself," Harvard Business Review, October 2009, 87(10), pp. 56-65 (with Jeffrey Immelt and Chris Trimble).


  1. ^ a b "Awards". Tuck School of Business. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "Vijay Govindarajan". Tuck School of Business. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  3. ^ "The 50 Most Influential Management Gurus". Thinkers50. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  4. ^ "Top 10 B-school professors in the world". CNN Money. 30 October 2012. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
  5. ^ "Biography". Tuck School of Business. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
  6. ^ "Harvard Business Review's 52nd Annual McKinsey Awards". Harvard Business Review. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  7. ^ Govindarajan, Vijay. "HBR Blog". Harvard Business Review. Archived from the original on 11 December 2013. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  8. ^ Govindarajan, Vijay. "Businessweek blog". Businessweek. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  9. ^ "Reverse innovation gets real: Announcing the McKinsey Award winners | McKinsey & Company". Retrieved 29 July 2019.

External links[edit]