Govt Must Make Accountability a Key Condition for Autonomy
other IIM was accorded similar autonomy subsequently.
Most of the features that appear to be in the IIM Bill, 2017 are already enshrined in the MoA and the rules that govern functioning of IIMA. Thus, IIMA already enjoys the autonomy, at least on paper, that is reportedly to be provided by the new bill. The Bill therefore proposes to extend similar autonomy to other IIMs. Prima facie, this ought to be good news, but is it?
Thelandscapeof managementeducation has seen a major shift in the last five years. While the number of IIMshasgrownto20,severalmanagementschoolshavecloseddowndueto moderation in the craze for MBA. Most new IIMs however are mere nameplate institutions, several with no director, no permanent faculty or administrative staff. The shortage of qualified teachers plagues even the establishedIIMs.Theproliferationof IIMs without concern for qualified academic resources to run them has meant severe dilution of brand IIM. This was pointed out repeatedly by IIMA in the discussions preceding setting up of new IIMs. The quality of education imparted in these new institutions is yet to stabilise at accepted levels. Complete autonomy to the fledgling IIMs without academic rigour is likely to be counterproductive. The temptation to start a plethora of programmes opportunistically, including doctoral and bachelor’s programmes, may further hurt the cause of management education that is already reeling under onslaught on quality. Is complete autonomy good for the established IIMs? The last few years have witnessed significant expansion by all IIMs. In addition to increasing the numbers admitted to the established programmes, they have expanded into distance education. The expansion has been indiscriminate with little control on the quality of offerings.
Theevidencefromacrosstheworld is clear – good management schools limit the size and scope of their operations to sustain quality in every activity they undertake. There is a conscious effort to innovate and create new paradigms in management from conceptual and empirical re- search to propose solutions to problems faced by organizations and society. This is not the choice being madebytheolderIIMs.Thereislittle relevant knowledge creation as that requires perseverance and effort of a very high order. Academic rigor of teaching programmes is also on the declinewiththeemphasisshiftingto revenue generation rather than transfer of cutting edge knowledge. Completeautonomyinsuchanenvironment is likely to accelerate the movement of established IIMs on the path to becoming pedestrian institutions. Caution is called for. The autonomy should be granted with well-crafted accountability metric so that IIMs serve the cause of the country by enhancing the respect theycommandinmanagementeducation globally. Else, it could be the beginning of a decline in the reputationthathasbeenbuiltoverdecades.
Author is a former director, IIMA