L.S.Ganesh: Management institutions abroad normally do not admit students without work experience. But, in India, we admit freshers and even those who complete three-year undergraduate programmes. Management education has developed steadily over the last few decades in India, especially since the early 90s. The number and variety of UG and PG programmes have vastly increased along with the institutions offering them. As in engineering, management education also suffers from an institutional chasm that separates top programmes from the average and the mediocre.
I would like to pose three questions to our panellists:
• What are the challenges and opportunities in management education today?
• In what ways can institutional leaders manage all their resources boldly and effectively?
• What should be the significant changes in the mindset and, consequently, in the practices of institutional leaders and faculty members?
G Raghuram: I shall cover six aspects on why management education is still a good business in India.
1) India is a growing economy. There is a hunger for professionals who understand the nature of organisations. Management education is all about how to design, create, and manage organisations.
2) There is continuing student interest. It is a cultural attribute in India where people want to go right through and complete education and, on the other hand, there are working professionals who realise the need to understand the organisations they work for and progress in their careers.
3) In IIMs, we were told that General Management was the way to go. But today, institutions have opened up a lot of specialised programmes, partly to create positioning and to address the needs of different sectors. I am now advising institutes on programs such as Maritime Logistics and Supply Chain Management. Along with specialisations, the idea of partnerships is also emerging and entrepreneurship is gaining traction.
4) Even prior to Covid-19, the idea of institutions adopting online education and attempting hybrid forms of delivery had come in. But Covid has emphasized and accelerated it, and this is an opportunity that can be leveraged.
5) Executive education or continuing education were not necessarily offering degrees programmes, but depending on the stages in the career and differing needs, short modules are developed to suit the needs of this target group of students.
6) The centrepiece of our ability to execute all of the above with quality is faculty. That is a big challenge. A lot of quantity has come in the Indian ecosystem but focus has to be given to quality.
We have a lack of faculty at the higher level and those who are credentialed. Online education is both a challenge and an opportunity ~ Harbir Singh
Harbir Singh: I am happy to share that I was involved in the founding of the Indian School of Business (ISB), and I am associated with it even now. So I am familiar with the Indian management context. I would like to touch upon four aspects:
• The industry of management education
• The challenges it faces
• The career development needs of students and the requirements of management education
• The resource availability
Executive education and specialised programs are opportunities. Given the market situation, the institutes must come out boldly with specialised programs. ~ G Raghuram
Industry: Talking of the industry, business education has proliferated throughout the world as there is rising demand. There is a factor called GER—Graduate Enrolment Ratio. It is a measure of capacity in relation to the number of students eligible to join the college. India’s GER is 26% while that of China is 48%, UK 60% and US 80%. This implies that there is a need for capacity in management education in India.
Challenges: We have a lack of faculty at the higher level and those who are credentialed. Online education is both a challenge and an opportunity—challenge in terms of designing the instructional material, and opportunity in terms of scaling. Considering India’s GER, online is the way to go. The flight to quality is another important factor. As supply increases, quality becomes questionable.
Apart from faculty development, the question of credentialing needs to be addressed. We have all benefited from the visionary approach of Dr Vikram Sarabhai in creating world-class IIMs. There has to be a lot of curriculum innovation. We can use simulated models and games to drive home concepts and strategies. The industry-institute interaction has to be nurtured and the apprenticeship model is very important.
Continuing Education: The executive education in India is in the order of 50 to 100 million dollars. Worldwide, the top 15 executive education providers make revenue of 1 billion dollars. India has a tremendous scope and a ready market in this sphere.
Financial Viability: IIMs are funded by the Government. There can always be tension between the quality and source of funding. So, there is a role for endowments and other financial resources to develop management education.
L.S.Ganesh: In what ways can the institutional leaders manage their resources in boldly attempting the desired changes in the present context?
G.Raghuram: The IIMs were set up by the government. But today, the originally started six IIMs have no government support for their revenues and for capital needs. IIMs are, in fact, able to generate quite a bit of surplus. IIMs have annual tuition fees in the range of Rs.20 lakhs. Even where the institutes charge a tuition fee of Rs.5 lakhs, there is an inherent viability and it is the good part of management education.
We often hear in India that there are too many B-Schools. But, Dr Harbir has pointed out that there is a big gap between supply and demand ~ Ramkumar
The hybrid model is the way forward and it is happening even in our IIMs. Preparatory programmes are being increasingly offered online. Some parts of the regular curriculum are drawn from the online MOOCs. Even earlier, the IIMs used to encourage the concept of students coming prepared to the class, so there can be more discussions and greater exploration of topics in the classroom.
Executive education and specialised programs are opportunities. Given the market situation, the institutes must come out boldly with specialised programs. The TAs (Teaching Assistants) help in unlocking a lot of faculty time. Doctoral programs are also an ideal source of potential faculty resources. They help in creating faculty material; they can also provide a lot of support to the faculty in the research part of their journey.
Different pedagogical tools like case studies, games and video tutorials can be curated in the classroom. The institutional leaders must protect the non-teaching time of faculties and enable them to work on case writing or research in their area of passion. I do not deny that written communication in the form of publications is good, but I feel that the over-emphasised need to publish peer reviewed papers in journals has taken the pendulum away from teaching in the classroom.
High quality publications versus high quality content and delivery is an interesting debate.
Harbir Singh: We need to increase the supply of PhDs to foster growth. But, just restricting the resource to PhDs is not correct. We should strive for innovation in curricula, and this will distinguish B-Schools in the days to come. Doctoral students can double up as teaching assistants as well as those who can create content.
The clarity on what can be delivered in a synchronous online mode or an asynchronous online mode and what can be taught in classrooms will be a crucial factor. B-Schools should bring in practising professors / industry experts, to a minimum of 10% of the faculty strength. The content must be relevant to practice. I feel that teaching quality and relevance to practice are highly correlated.
What should be the mindset change and, consequently, what should be the practices of institutional leaders and faculty members?
• We need to be conscious of our different stakeholders—teaching staff, non-teaching staff, recruiters, management and students.
• Opportunities must be created to enrich the faculty in their non-teaching time.
• The leader should watch out for what excites the faculty and support them from behind while leading them from the front.
• The leader must put in place systems and hold people responsible to those systems.
• The best creative processes in an institution can happen if there is greater ownership of faculty.
• The Director must aim to de-directorise his/her role and encourage a bottom-up approach.
Harbir Singh: B-schools compete with each other in three dimensions—for ideas, delivery and deep understanding of phenomena. In terms of mindset, schools need to maximise in these three areas. It is important to keep in mind that this is a non-compensatory model.
An institutional culture must support three areas—talent, diversity, and innovation. The hierarchical approach will not allow for diversity of ideas. Talent has to be nurtured and given full autonomy, including the ability to challenge ideas from within the system. B-schools need to make themselves a good destination for faculty on the talent front and try to bring in people with deep knowledge and leverage them in classrooms.
The more we cut down on variety, the more we become vulnerable in facing adversity and risks.
Ramkumar: I have been on the interview panel of selection of faculty and I have observed that the quality of candidates is not satisfactory. We often hear in India that there are too many B-Schools. But, Dr Harbir has pointed out that there is a big gap between supply and demand in India going by the Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) of 26%.
We have to explore if there is a business opportunity for academicians like our panellists to revive many B-Schools and enhance their quality. A consultant group may focus solely on this area and give a blueprint for high quality management education. If B-Schools give good education, they can easily charge even Rs.10 lakhs as tuition fee since the students will be employable.