Reliance Industries had evolved into a major player in the Asia Pacific region, and had begun to make its presence felt in the global petrochemicals and refining business segments. It had also made forays into exploration and production for oil and gas in multiple regions worldwide. This case study addresses the evolution of the company from a family-owned small-scale textile manufacturer to a global powerhouse within a few decades. It provides insights into how the company was able to trade on its competitive advantages at home in building a global strategy. Within the entrepreneurship and family business realm, the case allows for a rich thematic discussion around understanding the role of entrepreneurial leaders, the pros and cons of family control in large corporations, and impact on minority shareholders. From a global strategy perspective, the case provides a rich description of the nuances of building competitive advantage in emerging market contexts, the benefits of late movers in the race to globalize, and the unique modes of competition adopted by companies from newly industrializing countries. Since it is set in India, the case offers a comprehensive look at ground realities in that country, covering topics ranging from capital market conditions, governmental control and regulation as barriers to growth, and the role of external relationships management as a key competitive weapon in driving sustainable advantage
1. To provide insights into the evolution of emerging market multinationals from India.
2. To provide rich insights into the role of entrepreneurial leaders in such settings and the challenges facing family businesses in such economies.
3. To illustrate the unique bases of competitive advantage in transitional economies that are in the throes of changing from a command and control setup to a more liberalized market-oriented economy.
4. To analyze the context-specific challenges that these firms have to address in order to secure sustainable performance—i.e., issues such as capital market failure, labor market failure, and product market failure.