Associate Professor in International Business
Saïd Business School
University of Oxford
Park End Street
Akshay's primary expertise lies in the comparative political economy of developing countries, with a regional specialisation in South Asia.
Akshay's research focuses on public and private governance, institutional performance, and the changing nature of state-society relations in India.
Akshay’s current research interests are in the political economy of India, focusing on the institutional capacity and performance of the state. India is among the fastest-growing economies in the world, with globally-recognised firms, a comparatively young population and an expanding consumer base. At the same time, India faces many development hurdles, not least of all, the challenge of governing a large, heterogeneous and rapidly changing market. In addition, the nature of politics and business varies tremendously across India’s multi-ethnic federal democracy. How well the state manages these differences and administers its core functions has profound consequences for India’s business environment, societal welfare and prosperity.
Akshay employs innovative research designs and empirically-grounded methods to study the dynamics of governance. His research analyses variation in the performance of the state in India, across different regions and policy domains. Currently, he is conducting an in-depth study of the Indian police. The study investigates the norms, incentives and political conditions that influence how the police administer law and order. Akshay and his collaborators are using a mix of qualitative and experimental methods to evaluate the impact of institutional reforms on police behaviour, citizen perceptions and crime reporting.
Akshay’s previous research examined the delivery of public services in rural India. Drawing on more than two years of comparative fieldwork, he analysed the uneven implementation of universal primary education programmes, both within and across Indian states. This work has culminated in a book manuscript, entitled “Inside the State: Norms, Capabilities and Primary Education in Rural India” (currently under review), as well as multiple articles and working papers.
In his earlier work, Akshay researched private initiatives to govern labour standards in global supply chains. He carried out field research in apparel export factories to investigate when and how firms effectively monitor and enforce labour standards. He also analysed the efficacy of child labour interventions in India’s carpet supply chain, identifying the mechanisms by which non-state actors promote social change.
Akshay completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania and received a B.S. in Finance and B.A. in Philosophy (summa cum laude). He earned a M.Sc. in Management Research (with Distinction) from the University of Oxford. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he also taught a graduate-level course in qualitative research design and field methods. Prior to joining Saїd Business School, Akshay taught on the faculty of Harvard Business School, where he was an Assistant Professor in the Business, Government and International Economy Unit.
Alongside his role at Saїd Business School, Akshay is a Research Fellow at Green Templeton College.
- Global strategy and institutions
- Comparative political economy
- Development of emerging economies
- Public and private governance
- Education and social policy
- Business and politics in India
- State-society relations in South Asia
Akshay’s research interests are broadly in comparative political economy and development, with a regional focus on South Asia.
He seeks to understand when, why and how states acquire capabilities to govern effectively. His research analyses variation in state performance, institutional practices and related policy outcomes in India.
Elite strategies and incremental policy change: The expansion of primary education in India(opens in new window)
Bureaucratic Norms and State Capacity in India Implementing Primary Education in the Himalayan Region(opens in new window)
Virtue out of necessity? Compliance, commitment, and the improvement of labor conditions in global supply chains(opens in new window)
Akshay’s research addresses questions that impact individuals and organisations at multiple levels.
He conducts empirically-grounded, comparative field research. From conducting interviews to sharing his research findings, Akshay routinely interacts with policymakers, managers and ordinary citizens, whose perspectives help to inform his understanding.
Akshay has presented his research to multiple stakeholder audiences, including policymakers, development practitioners and business executives in India and elsewhere. He also engages with foundations, international agencies and policy think tanks. He has participated in policy panels and roundtable discussions on development and has contributed to reports for the World Bank, ILO and UNICEF.
Before joining Saїd Business School, Akshay was an Assistant Professor at Harvard Business School. While at Harvard, he led several initiatives on Indian politics and business. As a Faculty Associate at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, he co-directed the Brown-Harvard-MIT Joint Seminar on South Asian Politics. He has been a Steering Committee Member of the Lakshmi MIttal South Asia Institute (SAI) at Harvard, assembling together leading thinkers and policymakers from South Asia. He also led SAI’s Education Seminar Series, which facilitated the exchange of ideas between academics and practitioners in the field of education.
Akshay teaches Global Strategy and Global Rules of the Game on the Executive MBA curriculum.
He also contributes to other degree programmes, including the Diploma in Global Business.
Akshay’s approach to teaching is marked by an embrace of the Socratic method, which aims to stimulate critical understanding through dialogue. In the classroom, he seeks to direct students towards the central puzzles and questions at hand, while at the same time encouraging them to draw on their diverse experiences to interrogate and embrace those questions as their own.
In addition to teaching, Akshay has written several Harvard Business School cases, which are taught in various degree-granting institutions. These include cases dealing with the challenge of providing mass education in India and the development of Nigeria’s informal economy.