The much-anticipated shakeout among business schools is finally upon us. According to the Times of India (Feb 19, 2012),
In a dramatic, though not entirely unexpected, development, as many as 65 business management colleges across India are planning to close down; these institutes no longer see business sense in offering an MBA course, preferring to use the land for more lucrative ventures.
This is a welcome development for all the major constituents of business schools students, faculty and employers. An excess supply of poor-quality schools does not serve the needs of any of these stakeholders and are actually detrimental to the growth of the business sector in India.
There are many reasons for this state of affairs but the primary reasons appear to be the supply-side factors associated with excess capacity, poorly trained faculty, and inadequate infrastructure. All these factors combine to create graduates who lack the skills necessary to be competitive in the job market. Global companies would much rather hire management students from India rather than those educated abroad, but simply cannot do so, as majority of Indian B-Schools are not equipped to produce business leaders and entrepreneurs. As K Ramkumar, Executive Director of ICICI bank writes, The selection process, curriculum, quality of faculty, pedagogy and the farce called placement are all oriented towards producing clerks for the new East India Company’.
Part of the blame must be borne by accreditation bodies that have allowed the mushrooming of poor-quality business schools in recent years. For example, the number of seats at AICTE- approved business schools have quadrupled to about 350,000 between 2006-2011. Clearly, there is no dearth of highly capable and qualified students in India so how do we address this crisis?
Building Research Capabilities Among Indian B-School Faculty
The declining quality of research work and deteriorating research standards and infrastructure in the country give cause for concern. Strong incentives to practice quality research are major causes of decline in interest towards research work, notes the National Knowledge Commission.
The principal bottleneck is the shortage of faculty with research skills, international exposure and consulting experience. Faculty recruitment is primarily focused on hiring non-PhDs or business executives from Indian institutions and there has been a prevalent Indian mind-block against research. This problem can be addressed by supporting the development of high-quality doctoral programs in premier institutions. While steps have already been taken to create such programs, there needs to be greater focus on research and the ability of doctoral students to publish in top-tier international journals. Not only will this enhance the global reputation of these institutions, it will also ultimately help create professors who are better teachers. Still, this is a long-term solution and will not help to solve the current supply bottleneck. The only feasible strategy for the latter is to create a system where visiting faculty from some of the premier global institutions do the bulk of the teaching. While this may be only a short-term fix, the failure to take these steps has serious implications for the development of the business sector in India. Of course, the best available option is to entice talented and well-trained Indian professors who are based overseas to return home and teach in Indian business schools. Indian businesses must step in and help in this process by endowing professorships and chairs in order to help reduce salary differentials and make it worthwhile for some of these professors to make such a move. Industry and academia convergence is a win-win situation for all parties, but particularly for businesses since they will be playing a major role in creating well-trained managers in India.
It will take some time for a paradigm shift to occur in business education MYRA School of Business, through its association with the W.P. Carey School of Business, USA (ranked #1 in business research) and distinguished faculty from the worlds leading management institutions, is proud to be at the forefront of this rethinking.