Dabbawallahs

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DABBAWALLAHS OF MUMBAI (A)

Chandra Sekhar Ramasastry prepared this case under the supervision of Professor Larry Menor solely to provide material for class discussion. The authors do not intend to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a managerial situation. The authors may have disguised certain names and other identifying information to protect confidentiality.
Ivey Management Services prohibits any form of reproduction, storage or transmittal without its written permission. This material is not covered under authorization from CanCopy or any reproduction rights organization. To order copies or request permission to reproduce materials, contact Ivey Publishing, Ivey
Management Services, c/o Richard Ivey School of Business, The University of Western Ontario, London,
Ontario, Canada, N6A 3K7; phone (519) 661-3208; fax (519) 661-3882; e-mail cases@ivey.uwo.ca.
Copyright © 2004, Ivey Management Services

Version: (A) 2004-04-26

INTRODUCTION

On November 7, 2003, Raghunath Medge, president of the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin
Box Suppliers Charity Trust (the Trust), had just returned to his office in suburban
Mumbai after meeting with Britain’s Prince Charles who was on an official visit to
India’s commercial capital. The Trust was the managing organization of the dabbawallah meal delivery network (see Exhibit 1). The dabbawallahs’ service, often referred to as tiffinwallahs outside of Mumbai, was cited internationally by management scholars and industry executives as an exemplar of supply chain and service management. The service had acquired a reputation for its delivery reliability in Mumbai. International interest in the dabbawallahs was largely due to a 1998 article published in Forbes:1
Mumbai’s “tiffinwallahs” have achieved a level of…...

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