I was saddened to receive the news today of CK Prahalad’s untimely passing. His influence was felt across the strategic management and international business fields for several decades.
With Gary Hamel he defined and popularised the idea of core competencies as a driver of firm success. This was a wonderful operationalisation of the resource-based view, and helped to shift attention away from external environmental forces (a la Michael Porter).
His earlier work with Yves Doz on multinational headquarters’ control of subsidiaries was just as influential in international business circles, and he integrated strategy and literature very effectively when looking at the role of cooperative strategic alliances.
Hopefully the most influential and world-altering work he produced will be his exploration of the scope for multinationals and entrepreneurs to build advantages through servicing the billions of currently impoverished in the developing world. He coined the bottom of the pyramid concept and worked hard in proselytising on this issue. Here’s a short video of Prahalad explaining his perspective on globalisation and its potential:
It is rare for academics to be so active in their engagement with and pursuit of the ideas they talk about. Prahalad worked with many firms, governments, investment houses and communities. He cared about the future for India’s poor (and beyond). His death is a tragic loss for all.