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The goal of the challenge papers is to demonstrate your ability to apply the material in a compelling way to the case and to a
oader business context (see grading ru
Do This First
Before beginning the challenge paper, please be sure to complete these tasks:
1. Read the HBR article titled "The Ordinary Heroes of the Taj," considering the individual differences discuss within the module as you read.
The extraordinary heroism of the employees of the Taj is largely attributed to how they select and motivate their employees.
1. First, while the Taj is relying on the Indian context to make decisions about hiring (with the goals of customer service in mind), how do the traits and characteristics they hire for map on to the traits discussed within the lecture modules (such as locus of control, Machiavellianism, moral attentiveness, and moral identity)?
2. Second, many of the training and motivation approaches at the Taj appear to sustain ethical (even heroic) behavior.
· How do these practices potentially reduce biases in the cognitive model of ethical decision making (for example: escalation of commitment, limits of information processing, egocentrism, and illusion of control)?
· Could any of these practices be bolstered even further by incorporating the research findings described by Dr. Desai?
3. Next, compared to the Taj, how do you think most Fortune 500 companies within the U.S. take values and ethics in to account in their hiring (hiring for knowledge, skills, and abilities first, or looking for minimal qualifications while prioritizing values)?
4. Finally, the Taj hired/trained for a service culture that might not work for other industries (e.g., the financial sector, high tech).
· What specific actions might publicly-traded companies in the U.S. consider to make values a part of their recruitment and selection processes?  
· Please feel free to search for examples and include them in your writing.
Submission Details
All challenge papers should be approximately 4-5 double-spaced pages in length. Please cite all references consistently (format of your choosing, as long as it is consistent).

The Ordinary Heroes
Of the Taj
How an Indian hotel chain’s
organizational culture
nurtured employees who
were willing to risk their lives
to save their guests by Rohit
Deshpandé and Anjali Raina
The Globe
On nOvember 26, 2008, Harish Manwani,
chairman, and Nitin Paranjpe, CEO, of Hin-
dustan Unilever hosted a dinner at the Taj
Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai (Taj Mum-
ai, for short). Unilever’s directors, senior
executives, and their spouses were bidding
farewell to Patrick Cescau, the CEO, and
welcoming Paul Polman, the CEO-elect.
About 35 Taj Mumbai employees, led by
a 24-year-old banquet manager, Mallika
Jagad, were assigned to manage the event
in a second-floor banquet room. Around
9:30, as they served the main course, they
heard what they thought were fireworks
at a nea
y wedding. In reality, these were
the first gunshots from te
orists who were
storming the Taj.
The staff quickly realized something
was wrong. Jagad had the doors locked
and the lights turned off. She asked ev-
eryone to lie down quietly under tables
and refrain from using cell phones. She
insisted that husbands and wives separate
to reduce the risk to families. The group
stayed there all night, listening to the ter-
orists rampaging through the hotel, hurl-
ing grenades, firing automatic weapons,
and tearing the place apart. The Taj staff
kept calm, according to the guests, and
constantly went around offering water and
Photo Caption goes here
AbOve employees and guests of
the taj mumbai hotel are rescued
as fire engulfs the top floor on
November 26, 2008.
December 2011 harvard business review 119
1430 Dec11 GLO Deshpande.indd XXXXXXXXXX/26/11 11:02 AM
asking people if they needed anything else.
Early the next morning, a fire started in the
hallway outside, forcing the group to try to
climb out the windows. A fire crew spot-
ted them and, with its ladders, helped the
trapped people escape quickly. The staff
evacuated the guests first, and no casual-
ties resulted. “It was my responsibility….
I may have been the youngest person in
the room, but I was still doing my job,”
Jagad later told one of us.
elsewHere in THe HOTel, the upscale Japa-
nese restaurant Wasabi by Morimoto was
usy at 9:30 pm. A warning call from a ho-
tel operator alerted the staff that te
had entered the building and were heading
toward the restaurant. Forty-eight-year-
old Thomas Varghese, the senior waiter
at Wasabi, immediately instructed his 50-
odd guests to crouch under tables, and
he directed employees to form a human
cordon around them. Four hours later, se-
curity men asked Varghese if he could get
the guests out of the hotel. He decided to
use a spiral staircase near the restaurant to
evacuate the customers first and then the
hotel staff. The 30-year Taj veteran insisted
that he would be the last man to leave, but
he never did get out. The te
orists gunned
him down as he reached the bottom of
the staircase.
wHen KArAmbir singH KAng, the Taj Mum-
ai’s general manager, heard about the at-
tacks, he immediately left the conference
he was attending at another Taj property.
He took charge at the Taj Mumbai the mo-
ment he a
ived, supervising the evacua-
tion of guests and coordinating the efforts
of firefighters amid the chaos. His wife and
two young children were in a sixth-floor
suite, where the general manager tradi-
tionally lives. Kang thought they would
e safe, but when he realized that the ter-
orists were on the upper floors, he tried
to get to his family. It was impossible. By
midnight the sixth floor was in flames, and
there was no hope of anyone’s surviving.
Kang led the rescue efforts until noon the
next day. Only then did he call his parents
to tell them that the te
orists had killed
his wife and children. His father, a retired
general, told him, “Son, do your duty. Do
not desert your post.” Kang replied, “If
it [the hotel] goes down, I will be the last
man out.”
Three years ago, when armed ter-rorists attacked a dozen locations in Mumbai—including two luxury
hotels, a hospital, the railway station, a res-
taurant, and a Jewish center—they killed as
many as 159 people, both Indians and for-
eigners, and gravely wounded more than
200. The assault, known as 26/11, sca
the nation’s psyche by exposing the coun-
try’s vulnerability to te
orism, although
India is no stranger to it. The Taj Mumbai’s
urning domes and spires, which stayed
ablaze for two days and three nights, will
forever symbolize the tragic events of 26/11.
During the onslaught on the Taj Mum-
ai, 31 people died and 28 were hurt, but
the hotel received only praise the day af-
ter. Its guests were overwhelmed by em-
ployees’ dedication to duty, their desire to
protect guests without regard to personal
safety, and their quick thinking. Restau-
ant and banquet staff rushed people to
safe locations such as kitchens and base-
ments. Telephone operators stayed at their
posts, alerting guests to lock doors and
not step out. Kitchen staff formed human
shields to protect guests during evacua-
tion attempts. As many as 11 Taj Mumbai
employees—a third of the hotel’s casual-
ties—laid down their lives while helping
etween 1,200 and 1,500 guests escape.
At some level, that isn’t surprising. One
of the world’s top hotels, the Taj Mumbai
is ranked number 20 by Condé Nast Trav-
eler in the overseas business hotel category.
The hotel is known for the highest levels of
quality, its ability to go many extra miles to
delight customers, and its staff of highly
trained employees, some of whom have
worked there for decades. It is a well-oiled
machine, where every employee knows
his or her job, has encyclopedic knowledge
about regular guests, and is comfortable
taking orders.
Even so, the Taj Mumbai’s employees
gave customer service a whole new mean-
ing during the te
orist strike. What created
that extreme customer-centric culture of
employee after employee staying back to
escue guests when they could have saved
themselves? What can other organizations
do to emulate that level of service, both in
times of crisis and in periods of normalcy?
Can companies scale up and perpetuate ex-
treme customer centricity?
Our studies show that the Taj employ-
ees’ actions weren’t prescribed in manuals;
no official policies or procedures existed
for an event such as 26/11. Some contextual
factors could have had a bearing, such as
India’s ancient culture of hospitality; the
values of the House of Tata, which owns
the taj approach to h
Seek fresh recruits rather
than lateral hires.
Hire from small towns
and semiu
an areas,
not metros.

eCruit from high schools
and second-tier business
schools rather than colleges
and premier b-schools.
induCt managers who seek
a single-company career
and will be hands-on.
FoCuS more on hiring
people with integrity and
devotion to duty than on
acquiring those with talent
and skills.
train workers for 18
months, not just 12.
120  harvard business review December 2011
THe glObe
1430 Dec11 GLO Deshpande.indd XXXXXXXXXX/26/11 11:02 AM
the Taj Group; and the Taj Mumbai’s his-
torical roots in the patriotic movement for
a free India. The story, probably apocry-
phal, goes that in the 1890s, when security
men denied J.N. Tata entry into the Royal
Navy Yacht Club, pointing to a board that
apparently said “No Entry for Indians and
Dogs,” he vowed to set up a hotel the likes
of which the British had never seen. The
Taj opened its doors in 1903.
Still, something unique happened on
26/11. We believe that the unusual hiring,
training, and incentive systems of the Taj
Group—which operates 108 hotels in 12
countries—have combined to create an or-
ganizational culture in which employees
are willing to do almost anything for guests.
This extraordinary customer centricity
helped, in a moment of crisis, to turn its
employees into a band of ordinary heroes.
To be sure, no single factor can explain the
employees’ valor. Designing an organiza-
tion for extreme customer centricity re-
quires several dimensions, the most critical
of which we describe in this article.
A values-Driven
ecruitment system
The Taj Group’s three-pronged recruit-
ing system helps to identify people it can
train to be customer-centric. Unlike other
companies that recruit mainly from In-
dia’s metropolitan areas, the chain hires
most of its frontline staff from smaller cit-
and neediness (how badly does his family
need the income from a job?).
The chosen few are sent to the nearest of
six residential Taj Group skill-certification
centers, located in the metros. The trainees
learn and earn for the next 18 months, stay-
ing in no-rent company dormitories, eating
free food, and receiving an annual stipend
of about 5,000 rupees a month (roughly
$100) in the first year, which rises to 7,000
upees a month ($142) in the second year.
Trainees remit most of their stipends to
their families, because the Taj Group pays
their living costs. As a result, most work
hard and display good values despite the
temptations of the big city, and they want
to build careers with the Taj Group. The
company offers traineeships to those who
exhibit potential and haven’t made any
egregious e
ors or dropped out.
One level up, the Taj Group recruits
supervisors and junior managers from ap-
proximately half of the more than 100 hotel-
management and catering institutes in In-
dia. It cultivates relationships with about 30
through a campus-connect program under
which the Taj Group trains faculty and fa-
cilitates student visits. It maintains about 10
permanent relationships while other insti-
tutes rotate in and out of the program. Al-
though the Taj Group administers a battery
of tests to gauge candidates’ domain knowl-
edge and to develop psychometric pro-
files, recruiters admit that they primarily
ies and towns such as Pune (not Mumbai);
Chandigarh and Dehradun (not Delhi);
Trichirappalli and Coimbatore (not Chen-
nai); Mysore and Manipal (not Bangalore);
and Haldia (not Calcutta). According to se-
nior executives, the rationale is neither the
larger size of the labor pool outside the big
cities nor the desire to reduce salary costs,
although both may be additional benefits.
The Taj Group prefers to go into the hin-
terland because that’s where traditional
Indian values—such
Answered 2 days After Apr 18, 2023


Sanjukta answered on Apr 20 2023
5 Votes
Recruitment and selection
It can be stated that Taj’s approach toward hiring is basically from the semiu
an areas, small areas and not at all in the metro areas. Furthermore, they focus more on hiring individuals with devotion and integrity toward duty when contrasted with acquiring those with talent as well as skills. On the other hand, this company tends to tailor some significant plans on the basis of strengths and weaknesses of an individual as well as it hires an external coach for supporting all types of managers on their leadership journey.
Locus of control is mainly used for finding the right personality and this is used by Taj to a great extent. Taj People Philosophy (TPP) is mainly covered all aspects of as well as worker’s career planning from their joining till death. Furthermore, Taj also tends to implement the popular performance management system that is known as the Balance Score Card in which the workers are able to review their performance and make proper improvements. It highlights the fact that companies like Taj tends to hire for continuous improvement and competency is prefe
ed (Misra, 2017).
In terms of Machiavellianism, Taj in Indian context hires people who possess the characteristics of Machiavellianism because these people are someone who prefer careers in the fields that is entirely related to business and avoiding the professions that helping others. Therefore, the company gains a lot of profitability from these types of people.
Moral identity is another major factor that Taj looks out for when they are hiring. Moreover, moral identity is the degree to which an individual self-identifies as a moral person. Furthermore, Taj is more inclined in terms of taking these types of individuals because their moral identity is quite consistent over the course of their life.
There are a lot of training and motivation approaches at this company for sustaining ethical behaviour. Taj has a long history of mentoring and training, which directly helps to sustain the centricity of the consumers. The incumbent managers conduct all...

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