Top B-schools like ISB, IIMs revamp syllabus; India Inc unhappy, calls it cosmetic   Leave a comment


A year after top Ivy League institutes in the United States began revamping their MBA programmes, in the process challenging decades of conventional business wisdom, India’s top-rung B-schools are attempting something similar.

An overhauled syllabus with new subjects thrown in and old ones scrubbed out is expected to be ready for 2012-13 at many premier institutes.

The Indian School of Business (ISB), Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS), Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A), IIM-Kozhikode (IIM-K), and S P Jain Institute of Management & Research (SPJIMR) are some of the schools attempting to bridge the gap between classroom wisdom and business realities.

Subjects like ethics, corporate social responsibility and management mantras from the Bhagavad Gita have made a debut along with hardship stints in backward villages and mandatory internships with NGOs.

That should come as soup for the soul of a battle-weary India Inc hunting for socially-responsible and innovative leaders, right? Not quite.

The view from industry is that most of the changes in the curriculum are cosmetic and do little to tackle the root of the malaise at Indian B-schools – that they serve to create an elite social network and are clueless about the way business is run in real life.

Senior executives say the top-tier schools, the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), are out of sync with corporates and do not have enough good quality research emerging.

“Some executives I have spoken to find it hard to imagine that a student can grasp concepts of marketing without selling anything to anybody; or the concepts of operations if they have never spent time on a factory floor,” says Professor Srikant Datar of HBS, co-author of ‘Rethinking the MBA’.

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The B-schools counter that India Inc is fixated on short-term goals, reluctant to provide information for research and has a limited knowledge base. “Our context is learning and not quarterly performance and that may be why there is seen to be no connect between our teachings and corporate life.

But our corporates too are obsolete in their knowledge, yet we take their voices seriously,” says IIM-K director Debashis Chatterjee. “Each of us has different mandates; the shared space is defined by learning. That shared space needs to be explored,” adds the professor.

IIM-K is doing its bit to become more relevant by cutting back 10% of its regular content and making place for unstructured thinking.

The B-school is also working on breaking silos created in B-schools.

These silos typically have specialised faculty for operations, human resources, marketing and other such fields. “We decided to change curriculum so that these subjects are integrated in some way,” explains Chatterjee.

The attempt, he says, is to ensure that when students get into a company, they are able to integrate different functions for one goal.

“In fact last year, 32 members of our faculty got together to teach one course over five days,” adds the IIM-K director.

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Posted January 19, 2012 by avinash2060 in Current Affairs

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