What They Don’t Teach You at Indian B-Schools   Leave a comment

What is it that Indian B-schools don’t teach? In an opinion article in The Hindu written by Baba Prasad, President & CEO, Vivekin Group & Visiting Professor of Management, IIIT-Hyderabad, highlighted the issue with certain valid points that Indian B-Schools lack. He pointed out the grey areas in the teaching system of the Indian business schools.

Lack of original Indian thinking:

Prasad quoted a personal experience and said that in a conference on operations management that he was to attend but failed to do so, it was brought to his notice by a colleague that both in methodologies and in applications, the conference was completely West oriented. The only presentation that had Indian “roots,” was a paper that discussed how to optimize scheduling idli-cooker operations in a Bangalore Darshini restaurant. He added that it is sad that even after a decade, the same disease plagued our B-Schools and, also our management thinking in the business world; a lack of original Indian thinking. That raises a question, whether students are being taught to reject a language they know well and instead put on a voice and idiom that they only half-know?

People and Color:

When one imagines India, the highlights are: People and Color. The B-School students including women are without exception dressed in dark ‘business’ suits. Where are the bright colors that India emits? Dark business suits perhaps announce one’s arrival into an elite club. But throttling ties and stifling suits are also descriptions for the dark state of management education and of India in particular, but generally all over the world. The door must be closed on such closeted-thinking.

There is a lack of color and freshness in the thinking of the students. It just revolves around ‘theory’ rather than ‘practicality’. Not just the students can be blamed for this, but also the management educators are the ones who have brought this about. In India we seem to have forgotten the power of storytelling and the rich reserve we possess. In the Indian context there is a lack of out of the box thinking.


Another point that needs to be highlighted is- alternatives. An alternate solution or approach is always necessary while dealing with any thing in question. ‘Can we change that’ or perhaps monetize a solution? It is an approach and way of thinking that helps evaluate the pros and cons and thus, initiates innovative thinking. Students must be taught to think beyond the usual and to come up with more ideas.

Straitjacketing approaches:

The straitjacketing approaches that are taught in B-Schools and promoted in the Indian corporate world are not helpful in posing or answering such questions. Innovation requires breaking boundaries not just in application, but also more importantly in thought. Paradigm shifts should not be just the effect, but should be, again more importantly — the cause for innovation. Would it be a deviation to teach B-School students that Porter’s framework and the concept of positioning is not all that there is in strategy, that the core-competence approach in spite of its brilliance has limited application, that Blue Ocean for all its attractiveness does not tell you what to do when your blue water is bloodied by lean and mean sharks? Would it be dissent to teach them that all these approaches to strategy are necessary but not adequate conditions for strategic success? Isn’t it important to teach them that we need to stop thinking of organizations and businesses as mere machines to which we apply formulas and frameworks, and instead think of the next cutting edge in strategy where we will have to work with organizations as if they are living, breathing, humans who have stories to create, live, and tell?

It is time to teach them to find the self-confidence, their own voices and brand Indian ways of innovation that go beyond the stereotypical and that seems to be the only answer to innovation.


Posted March 14, 2012 by avinash2060 in Uncategorized

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