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Welcome focus on core competence

The logic of sticking to knitting seems to be impacting large public sector corporations. When such a project was set up in a green field site far removed from major cities, there was the need to provide a vast range of facilities and social infrastructure. For example, when the Rourkela Steel Plant was set up in the 1950s in Odisha, the area lacked basic amenities like housing, roads, power, schools, hospitals, markets, etc. Substantial portion of the initial capital had to be spent on creating these facilities. Over the years the administration had to cope with managing a vast range of activities that had been taking its attention away from the core activity of producing steel. It plunged several public sector corporations into losses. It also resulted in bloating the workforce to levels that became unmanageable.

Tata Steel at one time had a workforce of over 70,000. A large portion of these were engaged in activities that had little to do with the production of steel. eg: managing the township, providing water supply, electricity, maintenance of roads, running schools, hospitals, sports, museum, etc. A bold decision was taken to relieve the company of most of these non-core activities. Aided by the boom in the steel sector post-2000, the company effectively hived off many of these activities to separate institutions and offered liberal VRS packages. In quick time it reduced total workforce by half. Several other corporations followed suit and succeeded in improving productivity per employee and focused on their core activities.

This has become necessary in the context of stiff competition from across the globe. There is pressure to improve incremental capital output ratio and ensure higher productivity per unit of capital employed. This has been achieved by a few sectors like the automobile and auto component industry by taking recourse to a higher degree of automation, vendor development and improving supply chain management.

 

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