Case Study

Tata Nano: Dilemmas in sustainable development

15 pages
February 2009
Reference: IMD-3-1947

The Tata Nano was launched by Tata Motors, a member of the Tata Group in January 2008. This “one lakh car” ($2,500) was hailed as the people’s car. Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata Group, which was widely respected for its socially responsible business practices, had personally championed the Nano’s development in the belief that it would revolutionize the mobility of the middle class in India. The first models were due to roll out of the company’s green field factory in Singur, West Bengal in October 2008. While Tata Motors had been offered financial incentives to locate to West Bengal, the company also wished to play an active role in the re-industrialization of the state and contribute to the economic development of the region. But protests severely disrupted work at the Nano plant and it finally ground to a halt on 2 September 2008. In October 2008 the company announced that it was relocating its Nano factory to the western Indian state of Gujarat, walking away from its $328 million investment.

Learning Objective

The pursuit of Sustainable Development (SD) is not as straight forward as its proponents advocate. A firm’s financial, social and environmental performance may be at odds with each other. The challenge for top management is to deal with the underlying dilemmas. Nano offered the middle class Indian a safer alternative to carrying his family of four on a two wheeler. The company located its Greenfield factory in West Bengal, again to help develop backward regions of that Indian state. Yet, there were challenges to the Nano project from environmentalists and politicians concerned about the impact of the project on subsistence farmers.

Corporate Responsibility, Sustainable Development, Political Context
Tata Motors, Automotive, Automobiles
Published Sources
© 2008
Available Languages
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