Monthly Archives: December 2014

Surviving your MBA

I want to ask you a question. You don’t have to answer me, just yourself. But first, I must tell you a story before asking my question at the end.

Three MBA students are studying together. We’ll call them Yudhisthira, Bhima, and Arjuna (and say upfront that any resemblance to people you may know is purely coincidental). This is how their conversation goes …

Arjuna: I want to ace the exam tomorrow. There are people coming to recruit next week and I want to say that I had the highest grades.

Bhima: You always have the highest grades, but you still won’t get the job. Recruiters don’t look for the best student, my friend.

Arjuna: Who do recruiters look for then?

Bhima: People who can get things done. Exams are just a small part of that. It’s people like me, who play sports, organize events, and participate in community activities who demonstrate what it takes to be a good leader.

Arjuna: Even if it means that you don’t understand the basics of management? Even if it means that you can’t read a balance sheet? Companies are not stupid. They value strong fundamentals.

Bhima: You can learn how to read a balance sheet by seeing a video on the Internet and by reading a textbook. It’s no big deal. Classes and exams are not where you actually learn things.

Arjuna: Be as you wish, my friend. I have spent good money for my education here and I intent to learn as much as I can from the classes, from the great faculty here, and from classmates like Yudhisthira. Which reminds me, why are you so quiet today?

Yudhisthira: I am thinking.

Bhima: He is always thinking. When is he actually going to do anything?

Arjuna: Bhima has a point. What are you going to do during your MBA?

Yudhisthira: I was thinking of becoming a better person …

[No one says anything for a while.]

Bhima: You can be a better person by doing social work, joining a religious order, even by working in hospitals and schools. Do you really think a MBA program will help you?

Yudhisthira: It should. The world of business can get complicated. Companies can lie in order to sell their products, officials can demand bribes for getting things approved, customers can refuse to pay for what they buy, so on, so forth. If I can learn how to function honourably in a world like that, I will end up being a better person.

Arjuna: The ethical side of business troubles you?

Yudhisthira: Even our own behaviour sometimes troubles me. We copy from each other during exams, we plagiarize reports from the Internet, and we take credit for work that is not ours. It’s all quite disturbing.

Arjuna: We are doing what it takes to succeed – here and in the real world. Our courses are hard and we need all the help we can get.

Bhima: The important thing is that we are learning how to compete. As you yourself said, we will live in a world that is not entirely fair. As we work and play, we abide by the rules we see around us, not a vision of perfection.

Yudhisthira: Sadly, I agree. But it still does not stop me from aspiring towards honest business, just society, and a better environment for all. How to do all that is what I want to learn in my MBA. This is a brave new world with new technology and a new dawn for Indian opportunity. We must change and so I must change.

Bhima: Be my guest. I am proud to call you my friend and will gladly live in your world. But today, I must spread my wings, get new experiences, and have fun along the way.

Arjuna: I have to get back to work. Tomorrow’s exam is going to be difficult …

[All are quiet.]

It’s me again with the question I promised. Who do you want to be – Yudhisthira, as he improves himself personally; Bhima, as he improves his personality; or Arjuna, as he proves his personal capabilities?

How will you survive your MBA?

abhinanda sarkar

Dr. Abhinanda Sarkar

Associate Dean and Director of Research

MYRA School of Business

December 24, 2014

MICE – The Mysore Intercultural Effectiveness Indicator

We are all more mobile than ever and more likely to traverse into cultures different from our own – for reasons of studying, marketing, selling, buying, serving customers, and production of goods: literally, in the old-fashioned way, as business travelers or as onsite assignees; virtually as ‘desk diplomats’ via email, chat, phone, or web-based videoconference in globally dispersed project teams.

Management research considers intercultural competence as an important condition for being successful in international business relationships. Yet, the development and transmission of intercultural competence in global teams has not been established clearly. There are environmental and contextual impediments to the effective application of the requisite intercultural competence skills, knowledge, and attributes often resulting in a gap between ‘knowing’ and ‘doing.’ My own experience working for more than a decade with several multinational companies shows that there are specific barriers to intercultural competence, mainly the non-availability of interculturally competent personnel within the company and on the external recruiting market, the perceived high costs of all activities associated with management training and coaching, and the difficulty of building an associated business case. This often leads to a situation where the status-quo is preferred and managers are unwilling to act.

As part of my research agenda, I have developed a low-touch self-report indicator, the MICE Mysore Intercultural Effectiveness Indicator. It helps project managers answer the question if an effective global team has been formed.

MICE provides two scales measuring intercultural effectiveness across the boundaries defined by cultural groups. Such boundaries – also called faultlines – split a global team into sub-teams based on certain cultural attributes and provide an informal structure for intercultural conflict. The two MICE scales examine how team members feel and behave when these faultlines are crossed. Or, in the words of the American anthropologist Edward T. Hall who remarked back in 1976: “Understanding oneself and understanding others are closely related processes. To do one, you must start with the other, and vice versa”.

The first MICE scale helps to understand the effectiveness in interacting and collaborating with foreign counterparts by providing an answer to the question ‘how I think I am with them.’  It is made up of four dimensions: (1) Ability to accept cultural differences; (2) Avoidance of psychological stress; (3) Successfulness of communication; and (4) Establishing of interpersonal relationships.

The second scale gives an indication about the satisfaction with appropriateness of communication from the foreign counterparts, and the outcome of the collaboration. It gives an answer to the question ‘how I think they are with me.’ It adds another two dimensions to the MICE framework: (5) Appropriateness of communication; and (6) Results of collaboration.

A test run in several international companies with live data helped to validate the indicator using exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis. The results are published in Vol. 8 / Issue 1 (2015) of the International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, an internationally ranked journal by ABDC, NSD, and PBN. Have a look at the research journal:  http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/IJMPB-05-2014-0044; or the implementation of MICE and its various reports: http://www.globusresearch.com/MICE-Mysore-InterCultural-Effectiveness-Indicator.aspx

Now, what does it mean for the organization and the individual caught in international assignments? The organization benefits from acquiring insights into global team dynamics; gaining an understanding of the strengths as well as deficiencies of its global teams; and being able to pinpoint the root cause for possible team conflicts, misunderstandings, or performance problems. The researchers Preston G. Smith and Emily L. Blanck confirm this in a research article in the Journal of Product Innovation Management (2002, Vol. 19): “An effective team depends on open, effective communication, which in turn depends on trust among members.” But measuring the intercultural effectiveness is not an end in itself. On the one hand, an individual global worker can get a greater understanding of self and foreign counterparts and use the results as a starting point for improving own intercultural communication skills; the individual is better equipped to become more effective by reducing anxiety and stress stemming from intercultural collaboration. On the other hand, an international organization can identify which training and/or coaching measures will be effective in order to help them cope with unexpected events in another culture.

And what does it mean for you, as an aspiring Indian MBA student? Have you travelled internationally before? Have you worked internationally? Looking at the continuing growth of India’s export-oriented industries like IT and BPO, you will be likely to jump into an international role right after your graduation. As a business school, we have an obligation to prepare you for a global world, which is often dream to be flat – but in reality full of barriers. At MYRA School of Business, we not only recruit a good proportion of our faculty from leading institutions around the world, we also have active exchange programs with business schools in the U.S. and in Europe. You are going to experience how different styles of teaching, evaluation, and faculty-student interaction will open your eye for intercultural differences – a realization of culturally driven behavior which can later be most valuable at the workplace. And last but not least, I am also offering an elective course on International Management where we will be talking in much more depth about the challenges highlighted in this short article. Please see http://www.myra.ac.in/overview-m for an overview of what you can expect at MYRA School of Business in Mysore!

Dr Wolfgang Messner

Dr. Wolfgang Messner is Associate Professor of International Management at MYRA School of Business and Director of GloBus Research in Mysore/India.
Email: wolfgang.messner@myra.ac.in or wolfgang.messner@globusresearch.com

Mind-Boggling Experience with Numbers

Dr. Abhinanda Sarkar, has taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT),  Stanford University, Indian Institute of Management (IIM) and the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI). He received his B.Stats and M.Stats Degrees from the prestigious Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), and then went onto pursue his PhD form Stanford University, USA. More recently, he spent a decade at General Electric (GE) in Bangalore, where he served as a Quality Leader for the John F Welch Technology Centre and as a Principal Scientist, Analytics, for GE Global research.

I am so proud to be a part of MYRA, where Dr. Sarkar is currently our Associate Dean and has taken a course for us on Probability and Statistics in the first year. I did not know what to expect from this course at first, as I felt more nervous about being addressed by such a proficient expert in his field. I had been eagerly waiting for the course on Probability and Statistics to commence, since the day I had attended Dr. Sarkar’s seminar during the Week of Welcome. All the knowledge that I had gained during schooling and graduation came in handy during the course. I was able to connect the dots backwards and was also able to correlate all the concepts.

We were introduced to R programming during the course and the analysis part was taught to us using this program. I gained a lot as I learnt a valuable computational skill and also learnt data handling, and its interpretations for business use. We solved various problems and analysed models on probability using R. The usage of formulas and numbers were taught which plays a vital role in data analytics. I was awed at the way problem solving could be approached by the use of R, it became extremely simple. We also got a quick glance at how big data is stored, analysed and used. R programming is an extremely useful tool, as we will be using it in our future courses. Probability and Statistics on R will be used in:

  • The elective course on Risk Management will apply probability models to finance.
  • The core course on Data Analytics will leverage R for business intelligence.
  • The Research Methodology course will provide details on sampling and data collection.

We were tested on a daily basis by quizzes that were conducted in class by Dr. Sarkar. As crazy as daily quizzes sound, they were actually extremely helpful in assessing our day to day progress and understanding of the subject. I could easily judge the concepts that I had not been able to understand thoroughly through the daily method of assessment. The entire aim of the course was to lay a strong foundation for us in Probability and Statistics for other future courses. It is a course that lays emphasis on the fundamentals that we are required to be well versed with as future managers. Professor also quoted many real world examples from his experience as a teacher, as well as from his industry experience. These examples were quoted at the right time, so that we can even relate to them in the future and not forget their importance. Many questions were also answered in class using real time examples. The quizzes were graded based on the approach we had used to solve the problem. Professor was more interested in the method we had used to approach the problem rather than the end result that we had arrived at. The synchronization of theoretical knowledge and practical approach lead to a perfect learning experience, and enhanced my learning curve.

We will come across many statisticians who love number crunching, but I doubt we will come across a statistician at whom the numbers gaze in wonder! It was a course that lasted only two weeks, but the method of teaching is what has left a lasting impact on my mind. I did not want the two weeks to come to an end. I honestly feel that two years at MYRA is too less a time to actually learn and gain from a person who has so much to offer his students. When theory, practice, talent and experience all come to one sharp point- we experience wholesome learning. This is how I can describe my two weeks at the Probability and Statistics class that Dr. Sarkar took for us here at MYRA. He is definitely one person who will play a major role in defining our careers, future managers.

KN Krishna Pavan

Kotha Naga Krishna Pavan

PGDM 2014-16, MYRA School of Business