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    Research Application in Global Business


    Mumbai dabbawalas are showing their presence in India for over 125 years now without any brakes and stoppages. They have become an integral part of the Mumbai's culture. Every day they deliver nearly 2, 00,000 lunch boxes on time without making any use of technology.  The whole organization comprises of about 5000 employees (Baindur and Macario, 2013). They carry and deliver freshly made food from the homes of customers and transport them to offices. One of the most amazing things about their service is that the whole system runs manually. All the employees make coordination with the railways and thousands of boxes are transported through trains. They also use bicycles to reach to their ultimate destinations. Meal boxes are batched according to the client address and some numbers are allocated to each of the box (Bondre, 2013). The reason of starting this business in the city is that most of the masses like to have hygienic and tasty food especially homemade.

     It was all started 125 years ago when a banker wanted to have a home cooked meal at the office every day. So he gave this opportunity first ever Dabbawala. Seeing that other people also gave the thumb to the idea and demand for boxes got raised quickly. At the starting it was all informal and individual effort but later on they saw the opportunity and initiated the delivery services with a team of 100 members (Mabey and  Lees, 2007) Mumbai is a highly populated city so demand for the boxes grew day by day. With the passage of time, coding system was introduced in their functioning. In the beginning just a simple colour coding was used but at present it has taken the form of alpha numeric characters. Their work and dedication is appreciated across the world (Mahadevan, 2009). Some of renowned personalities have visited the organization. They are recognized as delivering six sigma level of accuracy in delivery of boxes. It means only 1 mistake in 6 million chances. Each employee is a component of a bigger chain and any single error or mistake can impact them all. In fact the time management skills, precision, coordination and discipline are some of the attributes of these dabbawallas

    The following research proposal aims at investing the functioning of this organization in the context of a case study related to them. This study will help in examining how the Dabbawallas of Mumbai work in daily life. Apart from that it will also investigate the factors which have provided them so much recognition across the world. Further this research will critically evaluate the procedures used by them in delivering their services to the customers.

    Rationale of the study  

    The prime significance of this research proposal is to identify the unique features, procedures and concepts of the Mumbai Dabbawallahs. Rationale behind this study is to find out the reasons behind such rich heritage of 125 years. Along with that it will also discover the reasons for time management skills, precision, coordination and discipline within the organization. Further it will examine the theories and concepts related to management, supply chain management, human resource management etc. This study will also help the students, scholars and business houses in gaining effective understanding about the branch of human resource management. They will be able to analyze how 2, 00,000 lunch boxes are delivered on time without the support of technology.  


    Every research is conducted with a certain aim and some objectives. This study will have the following objectives which will provide a direction to this study.

    Aim: To understand success factors of Dabbawallahs of Mumbai: an example of excellence in supply chain and logistics management


    • To critically evaluate the methods and procedures of the organization in satisfying their customers  
    • To analyze their factors which have contributed towards their tremendous growth and development  
    • To find out any gaps or drawbacks and to suggest some improvements for their functioning.  
    • To discover the components which make them unique and different from others


    Following research questions are framed which will help the researcher in conducting the study in appropriate manner.  

    • How dabbawallas of Mumbai work and function in everyday life?
    • Which are the factors which have contributed greatly in success of this organization?  
    • In what manner they are unique and different from others?


    Mumbai is known as the financial capital of India. One can find great number of corporate offices and commercial premises in the city. The city is the major source of income and revenue for the economy of the nation. Dabbawala organization is a renowned name in the country and as the city grows demand for boxes is also increasing for the organization. Presently they are operating at very wide network and every day more than 100000 lunch boxes are delivered to the clients (Chapman, 2001). They use of railway system and bicycles in order to collect the boxes from their respective homes. Lot of creativity and innovation can be seen in their services despite of lack of technology. In the absence of technology also, they have succeeded in maintaining quality in the service (Atkinson and Butcher, 2003). This thing is really a big achievement for them. One of the major things which is to be noticed.  This is that all the workers are semi-literate. Despite this fact, they are proficient in delivering excellent customer services and are well known name in the world.  They have quickly recognized the needs of office goers in Mumbai (Mahadevan, 2009). Most of the office going people in the city prefer to eat home cooked food rather than eating outside. This is usually because of taste and hygiene. Many females work from supply such home cooked meals in this network. Methods used by the organization are the symbol of effective supply chain, human resource and time management (Baindur and Macario, 2013).

     According to Baindur and Macario, 2013, business can achieve success with the help of effective logistics & supply chain management. Through this, a good balance can be achieved between demand and supply by the company in order to satisfy their customers. Along with that they also state that various other logistic firms use the basic management principles in order to achieve success in their business activities. As per them, firms should make continues improvements in their logistics so that maximum number of customers can be attracted. According to Mabey and Lees, 2007, technology is not essential for achieving business objectives. It is evident that Mumbai Dabbawallahs are working without using technology which is really encouraging for many entrepreneurs. It is all because of efficient supply chain management of the boxes. Apart from that there is a true commitment and dedication from all their workers. They are completely devoted towards their job and that is the reason they are successful.   

    In the views of Chapman, J., 2001, Top management of the Mumbai Dabbawallahs is very capable and efficient in performing activities. Along with that the study also revealed that organization has avoided the replication of efforts. They have established a benchmark for the success which is very difficult to reach. Along with that they have shown top quality management practices and have achieved six sigma. So here it can be said that top management of a company plays a very important role as they are assigned with major responsibilities. It shows that decision making is the most significant aspects and it cannot be ignored at all.  

    According to Atkinson and Butcher, 2003, an excellent workforce is responsible for deriving valuable results within the business in relation to the supply chain management. Employees in the Mumbai Dabbawallahs are those persons who have very less informative about the branch of supply chain and logistics management but yet their results are top class. They have also concluded that the main reason behind their success is the coding system which is used by them. Their whole process is based on coding system which is related with alpha numeric characters. This system helps them to deliver the boxes at right places on right time. Railways of Mumbai have also played an important role here as it has acted as mode of transportation of boxes. It consists of alphabets, numbers and colors which act as a unique identification number. All these things help in delivery and collection of fresh meal boxes in different parts of Mumbai. Despite of knowing that transactions are in great number, employees of the organization have shown great efficiency and proficiency.


    This section is developed with a motive to gain ideas about the research tools and techniques that will be incorporated in order to reach towards the end results in an effective manner. Also, it supports researcher in deciding upon paths through which each of the research objectives can be addressed in an effective manner (Clark, 2002). With this scenario, present section is developed in order to determine the ways and modes that will be utilized in the research study of Dabba wallas of Mumbai. Areas that are discussed in this segment involve research approach, philosophy, design and type.  

    Research Approach

    This is a framework that supports researcher in determining the way through which particular set of study can be conducted and progressed in an effective manner. With the help of it, modes of data collection and analysis get determined that helps in gaining responses from each of the research questions. In this regard, there are 2 sorts of approaches. Either of it can be implemented buy considering the nature and type of research. Inductive approach initiates with collection of data as per the subject matter with a sole motive to frame pattern out of it (Hoy, 2009). Further, data analysis is incorporated in order to gain inferences out of it. This inference acts as a base for developing theories out of it. In addition to it, deductive approach commenced with reviewing different sorts of existing theories of the subject matter so that hypothesis can be developed on the basis of it (Fiegen, 2010). Further, data is collected as per the needs of hypothesis so that it can either be rejected or approved.  With this, application of theories can be confirmed under specific scenario. Considering the nature of present research that focuses on Dabba Walla of Mumbai, deductive approach will be taken into account so that effectual results can be attained through it. This will certainly help in addressing each of the research objectives in an effective manner. This will also support in evaluating its excellences in disseminating lunch box throughout city. Further, this particular research will also acknowledge the methods from which high customer service and supply chain can be maintained.  

    Research Philosophy

    This is a setting that aids in gaining detailed information about research so that it can be conducted in a précised manner. Moreover, it reflects the thought process of researcher against the specific research. In this context, there are two types of philosophies, namely positivism and interpretivism. Positivism philosophy advocates that every research can be addressed through relevant set of facts and figures (Collis and Hussey, 2009). On the other hand, interpretivism philosophy states that researchers need to implement their insight with a motive to drawn inferences from it. Considering this, present research will incorporate interpretivism philosophy so that better synopsis of issues can be done. This philosophy will eventually gain knowledge about the working pattern of Dabba Walla which they perform on regular basis (Jonker and Pennink, 2010). In addition to it, different sets of data regarding Mumbai Dabba Walla will be interpreted in order to gain insight about the supply management and quality. Also, it assists in attaining an idea about the ways through which these people are able to conduct their work without any use of any technological applications.  

    Research Design

    Design acts as a blueprint of research as it essentially supports in taking decisions on different sections such as sources of data collection, analysis of same, sampling size and other related. There are different types of designs that can be utilized by enquirer and this solely depends upon the nature and type of research. In this regard, exploratory, descriptive, case study, causal, experimental and few more are the prominent research design (Crowther and Lancaster, 2012). Considering the nature of present research, descriptive study will be employed with a motive to gain better ideas about the working and management of Dabba Walla. Further, this study will gain knowledge from different sources about Mumbai Dabba Walla and same can be applied in research in order to better describe its working. In addition to it, this type of research will evaluate various factors that have supported them in surviving into this business for many years. In addition to it, there are different sorts of research conducted over the working of Dabba Walla and same will be reviewed with a motive to gain insight about the subject matter.  

    Research Type

    This signifies the nature of research and by determining it, most required set of research objective and question can be framed. In this context, there are two research types, namely, qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative research involves theoretical discussion upon the subject matter with a motive to gain required set of findings. Further, it helps in minimizing the gaps that exist in theory and actual scenario (McBurney and White, 2009). Apart from this, quantitative research essentially involved different sets of quantify data and same is involved with a purpose to gain ideas about the trends of subject matter. Present research possesses an aim to gain an idea about the elements that lead to success of Mumbai Dabba Wallas, therefore qualitative research will be applied with a motive to attain sound inferences from it. Further, it will better assist in evaluating different sorts of factors in a manner through which effective results can be attained from it (Friese, 2012). Besides this, research will also explore the service quality of Dabba Walla in an effective manner with the help of cited research type.  


    It is essential to incorporate sound research techniques with a motive to attain most effectual results out of it. In this context, there are two prominent sorts of research techniques namely primary and secondary. Primary techniques involve collection of data directly from respondents as per the needs and requirement. This is most effective technique for research because it doesn't involve manipulation of data and also it helps in gaining most desirable results. However, it is a lengthy and time consuming activity. On the other hand, secondary data already exists and can be obtained from books, journals, magazines, online articles, websites, government publication etc. (Kumar, 2005). 

    As far as present research is concerned, secondary techniques will only be taken into account. This is so considered because it is not feasible to collect data through primary techniques due to large set of respondents. However, there are various researches conducted over Dabba Wallas and same can be used for the purpose of conducting this particular research. In addition to it, data can be collected from various other sources such as newspapers, online articles, websites, government publications etc.     

    In addition to it, both qualitative and quantitative set of data will be collected for the purpose of progressing with this research so that better and desired results can be attained through it. Both sets of data regarding Mumbai Dabba Walla will be accessed from their websites and other related sources (Saunders and et. al., 2009). This will certainly aid in gaining ideas about the subject matter and at the same time support in identifying the trends involved in it. Further, qualitative data will assist in gaining ideas about the working pattern and quantitative data will support in understanding its effectiveness by reviewing statistical data over times.  


    Besides collecting data, same is required to be analyzed so that actual finding can be attained. In this regard, there are two sorts of techniques that can be employed for analyzing data. These are qualitative and quantitative data analysis. In present research, qualitative data analysis will be employed with a motive to gain better results from varied set of data. Under this, thematic techniques will be utilized in which different sorts of themes will be developed in order to gain inferences out of it (Crowther and Lancaster, 2012). This is so engaged due to massive availability of data and thematic techniques will eventually aid in attaining better results through it.  


    There are some problems that may takes place during the research which may impact the finding of entire investigation. The information regarding Six Sigma was not available which is one major obstacle in proposed research based on Dabba Walla of Mumbai. This creates difficulty in qualitative analysis as statistical information is not available. The whole study is based on qualitative analysis because of unavailability of statistical data. In addition to this, time and money is another limitation of the research.


    On the basis of this study, further research can be conducted upon identifying the skills and competencies that are required to perform these sets of work by Mumbai Dabba Wallas. Moreover, supply chain and logistic system can be addressed through it so that organization of different nature can adopt the same with a motive to enhance their operational productivity. Further, research can be carried out over identifying the factors that are actually responsible for the success of Dabba Walla.  


    • Atkinson, S. and Butcher, d., 2003. Trust in managerial relationships. Journal of Managerial Psychology.
    • Baindur, D. and Macario, R., 2013. Mumbai lunch box delivery system: A transferable benchmark in urban logistics?. Research in Transportation Economics.
    • Bondre, S., 2013. MUMBAI’S DABBAWALA The Uncommon Story of the Common Man. Westland.
    • Chapman, J., 2001. The work of managers in new organisational contexts. Journal of Management Development.
    • Clark, A. M., 2002. The qualitative-quantitative debate: moving from positivism and confrontation to post-positivism and reconciliation. Journal of Advanced Nursing.
    • Collis, J. and Hussey, R., 2009. Business Research, A Practical Guide for Undergraduate and Post Graduate Students, London: Palgrave.
    • Crowther, D. and Lancaster, G., 2012.  Research Methods. 2nd ed. Routledge.
    • Fiegen, A. M., 2010. Systematic review of research methods: the case of business instruction.  Reference Services Review.
    • Friese, S., 2012. Qualitative Data Analysis with ATLAS. SAGE
    • Hoy, K.W., 2009. Quantitative Research in Education: A Primer. SAGE.
    • Jonker, J., and Pennink, B., 2010. The Essence of Research Methodology.

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