Man­agers for To­mor­row

Business Today - - FROM THE EDITOR - @Pro­saicView

THE B-SCHOOL UNI­VERSE in In­dia is very big – there are well over 300 in­sti­tutes of­fer­ing MBA de­grees or PGDBM. But there is a strict peck­ing or­der among them. The Top 10 in­sti­tutes tend to at­tract the best and bright­est stu­dents in every batch as well as the best re­cruiters who come with of­fers to their cam­pus. They also pro­vide the best teach­ers, the best en­vi­ron­ment and act as a sort of fin­ish­ing school for the best stu­dents in the coun­try. In fact, I would say that this ap­plies to the top two dozen in­sti­tutes, though even within these, the first eight or nine in­sti­tutes are con­sid­ered the crème-de-la-crème. These in­sti­tutes and their stu­dents are largely im­mune to the state of the econ­omy in the coun­try – they get mul­ti­ple high com­pen­sa­tion job of­fers whether the over­all job mar­ket is do­ing great or not.

The next 50-odd are the mid-rung in­sti­tutes – which at­tract rea­son­ably good ap­pli­cants, have good teach­ers and of­fer good fa­cil­i­ties, and while they do not get the best of­fers from the best com­pa­nies in the coun­try, they do man­age to get their graduates placed in rea­son­ably good com­pa­nies with re­spectable com­pen­sa­tion pack­ages. But here also, place­ments de­pend on the state of the econ­omy and the job mar­ket – and a tight job mar­ket can mean a num­ber of stu­dents in any batch re­main­ing un­em­ployed.

Af­ter this, things be­come a bit of a strug­gle for both stu­dents as well as in­sti­tutes. While in­sti­tutes have no prob­lems get­ting enough stu­dents when the econ­omy is boom­ing, in­take is of­ten of poor qual­ity. Equally, find­ing jobs for stu­dents pass­ing out is of­ten a strug­gle, and their de­grees rarely help a stu­dent get a salary higher than he would have com­manded as a sim­ple grad­u­ate. They are largely teach­ing shops. Their prob­lem is that even when they try to move up the rungs of the B-school hi­er­ar­chy, they are trapped in a vi­cious cy­cle. The best stu­dents tend to drop a year and try again for a bet­ter in­sti­tute rather than take up a seat in any of these col­leges. Poor in­put only pro­duces poor out­put – no mat­ter how much ef­fort the col­lege might put in. Poor out­put makes re­cruiters wary of even go­ing to the in­sti­tute for hir­ing.

The other big prob­lem that B-schools need to tackle – and this ap­plies to the top B-schools as well as those lower down – is that too much of the teach­ing and ori­en­ta­tion is still geared to­wards pro­duc­ing well-rounded man­agers for good com­pa­nies in rel­a­tively sta­ble in­dus­tries. For too long, they have also de­pended on in­cre­men­tal im­prove­ments in their cour­ses, in­stead of rad­i­cal changes and ex­per­i­ments. But the ad­vent of dig­i­tal star­tups and the Fourth In­dus­trial Revo­lu­tion is chang­ing the par­a­digms of busi­nesses as well as the na­ture of the work­place. Per­haps it is time B-schools started think­ing about pro­duc­ing stu­dents who can fit in the work­place and in­dus­tries of to­mor­row – not just the big or­gan­i­sa­tions of to­day.

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