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    Research Application in Global Business


    The dabbawallahs service has also been referred to as tiffinwallah service. It is an exceptional example of supply chain management. The dabawallahs are those persons who carry lunch boxes to people from the home so that it can be delivered to the work place as well as offices of individuals (Pathak, 2010). The history of dabawallahs originates from 1980 when a Parsi banker employed young people to take lunch every day. The banker started getting referrals and the business grew in size when the Tiffin carrying entrepreneur started helping several people (Gupta, 2007).
    In the present times, dabawallas functions under the aegis of Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Charity Trust. The dabbawallahs due to their work style and zero percent error rate have earned good reputation as well as a position that has been unbeatable since many years (Mallik and Mukherjee, 2007). It is further a known fact that employees who are providing these services have got minimal level of education still they have been able to deliver effective services to people. The people have developed their own business structure and a supply chain that is used to deliver services to people (BONDRE, 2013).

    Hence, the present research proposal has been aimed at exploration of the reasons behind the same. Further the study focuses on investigating the supply chain and service management for dabbawallahs. The research to be carried out in a clear cit manner requires the researcher to formulate aims and objectives which has been done in the upcoming sections. The proposal will also be inclusive of detailed literature review that explores the viewpoints provided by different authors. It further covers the findings of different researchers (Baindur and Macario, 2013). The research has further made use of many tools and techniques in terms of design, purpose, data collection and analysis section. The purpose of given research is to assess the critical success factors so as to enable business for delivering excellent quality of consumer service delivery.


    The research proposal is based on a rationale to carry out the exploration of concepts as well as systems related to dabawallas. The proposal has stated the manner in which dabawallas control as well as manages the system. The rationale is thus to explore the working as well as operational mechanism of dabbawallahs. It is because the dabawallas have been delivering the product at the top most level of precision (Sarumathi and et.al., 2014). The proposed study is likely to explore the concepts related to supply chain and management, information, human resource system that is being followed by dabawallas. This is likely to given an increased insight to the researcher as to how the businesses delivers lunch boxes to individuals in so effective manner and with a highest accuracy level (Gupta, 2007).


    The study entails for framing of research questions so as to carry out the study in an effective manner. These are likely to assist the researchers in exploring the topic in an effective manner.

    • What are the operational activities performed by dabbawallahs?
    • What standard process is being used by dabawallahs of Mumbai?
    • Which core competencies of dabawallas have made them achieve the six sigma accuracy levels?


    Aim: To analyze those factors that have enabled the dabawallas for delivering excellent customer service quality.

    • To assess the operational activities performed by dabbawallahs?
    • To analyze the standard process being used by dabawallahs of Mumbai?
    • To assess the core competencies of dabawallas that has made them achieve the six sigma accuracy levels?


    The Dabbawallahs of Mumbai are recognized as those business organizations which is having one of the most effective supply chains in India. The main concern of the organization is to deliver the freshly prepared food at the place of customer at offices and workplaces all over the city of Mumbai. The business is known to start long back since 125 years in the year 1885. The business started on a small scale supplying tiffins in the city but then with increasing population the scope of business increased as demand for the delivery of food incremented (Mumbai Dabbawala, 2014). Now, today, the business of Dabbawallahs is being carried on a large scale. On an average, approximately, 200000 lunch boxes, daily are delivered by the organization and for this it has 5000 employees with it. The supply chain management of the firm is effective to such an extent that there is use of bicycle for the supply of tiffin boxes to customer’s place and again collects them from them. The system implemented by Dabbawallahs is efficient and innovative that in spite of the lack of involvement of any advanced technology also the quality of service provided is not affected and is of superior quality (Patel and Vedula, 2006).

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    Important factors like support of logistics system like urban landscape, policies for the public and skills possessed by employees and owners make it easy for an organization to attract a number of customers. These are the aspects that are considered by the Dabbawallahs of Mumbai as well which has helped it to prosper to a significant extent. Consideration of such factors has helped the company to achieve a balance between demand and supply according to needs of customers and also to fulfill them (Ganguly, 2014). According to Pathak, 2010, it has been found that there is no continuous improvement being made in the field of logistics which suggest the ways of attracting the core customers towards the firm. Instead the most important thing required is the effective management of logistics in order to have proper operations (Pathak, 2010). This was followed by Dabbawallahs which paid attention on its supply chain management and even without use of technology it has found ways of managing its logistics in an appropriate manner. Apart from having a proper management of supply chain, the Dabbawallahs also had a skilled and qualified management (BONDRE, 2013). It has been successful in their functioning related to process of statistical measure and quantifying various aspects of the business. The organization has also caused a reduction in duplication of human efforts owing to which they have achieved a benchmark in quality. The level of quality is taken note to such an extent that it delivers services according to six sigma level which added an advantage to it. With having a high quality of services provided to the customers the organization has been able to achieve success and reputation all over Mumbai (Anh and Matsui, 2011).

    According to SARUMATHI, SARANYA, JOSEPH and ANITHA, 2014, the employees working at Dabbawallahs are not even completely literate and semi - literate who do have quite less or no knowledge regarding the management of supply chain and logistics. But still, the organization is well known for the way it administers its logistics and deliver effective and quality services to the customers (SARUMATHI, SARANYA, JOSEPH and ANITHA, 2014). The services delivered by them are accurate that it is a reflection of its appropriate quality management and operations. The main procedure that is being followed by Dabbawallahs is that of coding through which it delivers lunch boxes at the places of work of the customers. The coding represents alpha numeric characters by which it delivers correct tiffins at the right location and at the correct time (Theoharakis and et. al., 2007).

    In addition to this, as per views of Slack, Chambers and Johnston, 2010, there are several other factors with respect to supply chain and logistics as well which has made the business of Dabbawallahs to become proficient and help it to achieve success. The effectiveness in operations of the company involves dabs to be sorted on basis of codes and also loading and uploading them in such manner that it reaches the customer as per their requirements (Slack, Chambers and Johnston, 2010). One of the most critical factors that have contributed to success of Dabbawallahs is its system of codification. The information that is reflected by the codes can only be decoded by the employees of Dabbawallahs. The codes consist of numbers, alphabets and colors which is so efficient that with this the employees deliver tiffins to the customers and thus superior quality of services (McLachlin and Foropon, 2013). The company does around 400000 transactions on a daily basis that includes delivery of lunch boxes and collecting them again from the place. Dabbawallahs with its effective quality of delivery of services has become one of the renowned organizations in Mumbai know for its supply chain management (Baindur and Macario, 2013).


    The research methodology of the proposal consists of various tools and methods that will be applied by the researcher in order to fulfill the aims and objectives of the present study on Dabbawallahs and its operations management. It mainly includes the description of research design, approach, and philosophy as well as research type.

    Research design

    An important part of the research is its research design framework which is of three types known as exploratory, descriptive and causal. The present proposal on Dabbawallahs and effectiveness of operational activities, exploratory research design will be implemented. It will be used here as through this design, researcher will be able to gain useful and additional information related to the supply chain management of Dabbawallahs of Mumbai (Franklin, 2012). The design will also help in collecting information related to ways in which the company delivers lunch boxes to the customers in an effective manner. In addition to this, the use of exploratory research design will also assist the researcher in gaining in-depth insight into the research topic of Dabbawallahs and the ways in which it carries its operations in order to provide effective services to the customers. Moreover, exploratory research design will be used as less reaserch has been done on logistics of the company and so with this design more information can be gained (Flick, 2011).

    Research philosophy

    Research philosophy help the researcher to gain precise and accurate information related to the topic on which study is to be conducted. For the present study on Dabbawallahs and their process of carrying operations will be interpretevism. It is because this philosophy will assist the researcher to have better and enhanced knowledge regarding the management or working of Dabbawallahs of Mumbai (Krishnaswamy, Sivakumar and Mathirajan, 2009). Through its implementation, the researcher will be able to have information related to practices of the business of the company that enable them to serve tiffins to 200000 all across the city of Mumbai. In addition to this, interpretevism philosophy will be used so that researcher can have an access to the main subject matter related to the topic of study. It will also be able to have information regarding the practices by which the company achieves superior quality of services without any technical assistance (Whiteley and Whiteley, 2006).

    Research approach

    Another important part of the research methodology is research approach research philosophy and design can be understood in an effective manner. Mainly, the two types of approaches are inductive and deductive (Vaivio, 2008). The present proposal on Dabbawallahs as well as their operational processes will make use of deductive approach. By application of this approach, the researcher will be able to accomplish aims and objectives in a more efficient manner. Also, the research will start from general ideas and then move specifically towards the supply chain management of Dabbawallahs. It will also help in imparting more in depth information related to the topic and that too to a significant extent (Sekaran, 2006).

    Research type

    There are mainly two types of research known as qualitative and quantitative. The present research report that will be done on operational processes and supply chain management of Dabbawallahs is a qualitative type of study. Under this, data will be gathered by referring to various sources which can have useful related information and it will be analyzed in a qualitative manner as well. By making use of a qualitative type in the present study, researcher would also be able to gain useful knowledge regarding the critical factors responsible for the success of a business and those which are available with Dabbawallahs (Smith, Bruyns and Evans, 2011).


    In order to fulfill the aims and objectives of the present research based on Dabbawallahs of Mumbai and its supply chain data will be collected from different secondary sources for which qualitative and quantitative techniques will also be implemented.

    Secondary method of data collection: The secondary sources that will be referred in order to collect information related to Dabbawallahs of Mumbai and their business practices as well as operational activities will be mainly the websites available on internet that contain related information. Apart from this, data will also be obtained from newspapers, articles and journals through which researcher can get useful information (Johnson and Christensen, 2008).

    Qualitative and quantitative techniques of data collection: Both qualitative and quantitative techniques will be implemented in order to collect secondary information for the present study. Though some quantitative data will also be accumulated but mainly it will be based on qualitative type. Information will be obtained from internet sites and also from the researchers who have earlier conducted study on a similar aspect (Lichtman, 2006). By including both the qualitative and quantitative methods in order to get a pool of data the study can be made effective to a significant extent. Through qualitative data, information related to business of Dabbawallahs, its operations, effectiveness of delivery of lunch boxes and quality of services can be gathered. Very little amount of quantitative data will be collected owing to the limitedness of the available information related to the present study (Babbie, 2010).


    Following the collection of data is another important process of the research which is known as data analysis. For the analysis of data that is collected in the present study on Dabbawallahs of Mumbai qualitative method or technique will be implemented. For this, the tool of thematic analysis will be used wherein themes will be made and with these data can be analyzed critically (Franklin, 2012). The themes will be prepared according to the aims and objectives being formed and with which critical success factors of Dabbawallahs of Mumbai, their operations and business activities are explored and gained an insight into these. Moreover, the themes will also be prepared in such manner that through these, it will be known the way in which the company works in order to deliver good quality of services to its customers by well managing its supply chain and logistics (Flick, 2011). The findings that will be accumulated after conducting the literature review would be analyzed through forming themes which would further help in reaching at the results of the study. Through the method of qualitative analysis of thematic analysis, researcher would be able to have in depth information on the related topic (Krishnaswamy, Sivakumar and Mathirajan, 2009).

    Also, to analyze the data in quantitative terms, the technique of six sigma will be used. Six sigma is a statistical measure that will be used for finding the level of accuracy with which it has achieved superior quality in its services as well as its progress. However, the application of statistical technique of six sigma is not a basis of analysis. It is mainly because of the lack of presence of appropriate statistics and figures which are required so as to carry on the analysis (Pyzdek and Keller, 2003). Owing to this, here, in the present study qualitative type will be used for analysis of data.


    It is undoubtedly a fact that there would arise certain barriers and limitations in the proposed research. One of the critical issues regarding the subject matter of present study on Dabbawallahs of Mumbai will be availability of information in order to carry on the calculations of technique of Six Sigma which is not present in an appropriate amount. Owing to this, it would not be feasible for the researcher to carry on the quantitative technique of data analysis (Franklin, 2012). So, the entire research will be based on qualitative method of analysis in order to derive the results. Another major limitation of the proposed research is that of lack of primary information as primary data also would have also helped in gaining some useful information related to the subject of research. In addition to this, another issue that can arise for the present study based on Dabbawallahs of Mumbai is that it is possible that sufficient amount of secondary information is also not available on the various sources as much research still has still not been done on this topic (Vaivio, 2008). Also, another critical issue that can arise in the proposed research is that getting access to the secondary sources of information like websites and published articles. It is possible that many of the websites do not provide the right to use the websites without permission owing to which it can create problems or barriers while carrying put the study (Lichtman, 2006).


    On the basis of literature review and study done on Dabbawallahs of Mumbai some important suggestions now be given regarding the areas in which future research activity can be done. Further investigation can be carried out by making a comparison of logistics and operations of Dabbawallahs with some other company in India itself. This would assist the researcher in finding out the various ways in which the companies work in order to carry on their operations and manage their logistics (Gadde, HÃ¥kansson and Persson, 2010). Further research can also be conducted on comparing the operations of Dabbawallahs with some other company functioning in any other country. This would also give researcher appropriate knowledge regarding the firms outside India work and operate. In addition to this, further investigation can also be done on evaluating the critical success factors for the success of a business and those which are available and utilized by Dabbawallahs of Mumbai (Purohit, 2008). Apart from this, research can also be conducted on ways through which Dabbawallahs makes its quality of services superior and effective as compared to other organizations.


    • Anh and Matsui, 2011. Relationship between quality management information and operational performance: International perspective. Management Research Review.
    • Babbie, R. E., 2010. The Practice of Social Research. 12thedition, Cengage Learning.
    • 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.
    • Flick, U., 2011. Introducing Research Methodology: A Beginner's Guide to Doing a Research Project. SAGE.
    • Franklin, M., 2012. Understanding Research: Coping with the Quantitative - Qualitative Divide. Routledge.

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