With close to 6000 Business schools in India, the toughest aspect of the study of B schools is the classification of these Schools offering management education. The Working Group of the Knowledge Commission, in its report submitted to the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh, stressed many points of which the following are prominent.
Highest level of corruption and incompetence in the regulatory process of evaluating Institutes before granting them the approval for starting programmes (thereby allowing ineligible institutes to offer programmes. Arrests at the very top levels of AICTE in the last one year prove this right.)AICTE not very well equipped to handle management education system, given its competence in Engineering education. Hence regulation, at best, is ineffective and at worst can lead to disastrous consequences.Dearth of quality faculty to deliver quality management education, on account of both quality (inefficient teachers) and quantity (insufficient number of faculty to run a programme).The wrong notion of “education being an act of charity and social work” (it recommended that private participation be allowed with a cap on profits being repatriated, so that quality can be brought into the academic system).
It is quite clear from the above that there can be a large number of institutions that are:
- At best, incapable of offering quality education
- At worst, out there to fleece students.
Given this, it becomes very important for a prospective student to understand what School s/he should join, investing lakhs of hard earned money and more importantly the precious two years invested in furthering management career. In this article, the author makes an assessment based on the general features and the characteristics of the B schools in India. The basis for such as assessment is his training at IIMB from where he earned his doctorate in Management and also from first hand interactions with a large number of faculty from local B schools who attended FDP (Faculty Development Programme) at IIMB each year. This article is not intended to place institutes in a particular category. It is a pointer for students seeking management education to make an informed choice based on these parameters. Claims and rankings (ranging from best surveys to paid journals that offer higher ranks to the highest bidder) not withstanding, the golden rule for a student is simple: “Caveat Emptor”, which is the corner stone of all consumer activity. It means, “Let the buyer beware.” Be safe than sorry, is the substance of this idiom, and this article!
From the IIMs to the roadside fly-by-night operators, the Management Institutes can be classified into 4 categories as below:
| Category || Strategic Focus || Value Adding parameters || Examples |
| I || International / National || High on both Process & content || IIMs (Centres of Excellence); Top 10 B schools after IIMs (Tier I schools) |
| National / Regional || High on process and medium on content || Stand alone B schools, having relationships (faculty / institute level) with the IIMs / Tier I schools |
| III || Regional / Local || Medium on both process and content || Conglomerates affiliated to good Universities, with very good infrastructure |
| IV || Local || Medium on process and low on content || Affiliated to average universities |
What is the value adding parameter?
Content based value addition: In-depth course content which is relevant to industry, contemporary and that meets corporate requirements. This will add value to the future managers by being on top of the chosen area of specialisation.
Process based value addition: Activities that are driven by deadlines, constraints of multiple team memberships, learning not only “what to do” but also “how to do”. In sum, enjoying the journey towards the destination is where the learning happens.
Various B schools can be categorised based on these two axes, with each of them taking three values of high, medium and low. Obviously, only centres of excellence like the IIIMs can achieve the best twin combination of high process and high content value addition. This requires a lot of slack, academic expertise and it must be based on the principle of effectiveness, rather than that of efficiency. In other words, cost cutting and profit making must not take precedence if an Institute has to become effective like the IIMs. The next rung of Schools would slowly move down the continnum of the value addition, by diluting the value addition through either process or content. The other end of the value chain has in its wake the schools that are notorious for being highly profit centric and not at all student centric. High decibel marketing activity will be one of the main hall marks of such an institute. It is only natural, that to compensate for the lack of any actual value addition through process or content, high marketing campaign needs to be put in place.
In sum, if the buyer has to be careful, she/he needs to realise that the Institute needs to have the capability and the willingness to deliver quality management education. Unfortunately, education is an experiential good (meaning it can be known after experiencing it and the sale would have already happened by then!) and hence other key parameters, that signal the higher amount of value addition through process or content, need to be factored in before taking a call on one’s career enabler.
Indeed, choosing the right B school itself is a managerial decision making process and the ones who make the right choice end up having higher probability of making it big in the managerial world! Keep your best foot forward, by making an informed choice! Good luck to the budding manager!
Prof. Samir Kagalkar is a Faculty at ASoME and holds a doctorate from IIMB in the area of Corporate Strategy and Policy. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
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