Categorisation of b-schools can help industry differentiating between programs more effectively
In an interaction with Professor Subhamaya Panda, Dean, Institute of Management & Information Science, Bhubaneswar, People Matters explores how classifying MBA programs can bring value to industry by facilitating the choice of schools for different roles within the organization
Where are we in business education now?
Today, business education in India is maturing. I personally believe that the first wave of creating mass institutions and facing challenges to create the basic level of end-to-end integration (admissions-academics-placements) is fairly taken care of. What is required now is to face the second wave in business education in India which is even more challenging.
Why do you think categorization of MBAs is a good idea?
I think every business school has more or less the same Program design at the basic level, and they are trying to differentiate themselves highlighting certain aspects that are essentially non-core. Though some form of categorization has started, for example, the sectoral MBAs, but still ideas on differentiating the basic MBA Program design remains crude when it is mirrored against the industry ground realities. All MBAs that are produced by various b-schools do not get absorbed by the industry at the same profile. Rather, very often the industry does a force fit and further invests on them to bring in the required competencies. Actually the industry has already started doing a categorization of b-schools based on their own requirements.
What do you think are the industry requirements today?
The industry requires candidates who are educated in business to perform different roles within their organizations. Few of these roles are strategic/consulting and hence they prefer to hire from top institutions that typically have trained their minds in terms of strategic thinking and have capabilities suiting to such kind of roles. But a majority of the roles offered by industry are to manage the strategic intentions of organizations. An even greater number of business educated graduates are required at the operational level to take care of the frontline needs of implementing plans of an organization and to do firefighting at the tactical level. But interestingly, all MBA program designs primarily focus on developing strategic thinking in every subject without taking into account the actual business relevant competencies of the student.
What could be done to ensure that there is a better fit between the industry requirements & actual supply of business graduates?
The issue is far more complex than it seems to be. There is no easy solution to this. It is easy to decide that based on the industry requirements, a three tier hierarchical pyramid can be designed where every business school goes for a fit. But I believe that the entire issue of splitting MBA programs can be done at the preliminary level where entrance tests are conducted to check the quality of the student.
How b-schools should view placements as a part of their core activity?
I personally think that the time has come to move to a higher grounding in terms of placements by b-schools. This function should not be viewed or measured by mere percentage of placements or average salary levels. One should view it more as ‘Talent Deployment’ rather than simple placements. The measure of such a function may be taken as the ability to deploy institutional talent as per the talent acquisition needs of an organization.
Industry often talks of super-specializations during the MBA program suiting to certain niche needs. What is your opinion on that?
Till date MBA is seen as a generic educational program. Super-specialization is essentially possible when a special training component is added in the basic educational system. But the question is whether there is enough interest among business houses to foray into such kind of training that is built into the basic MBA curricula design? What are the risks for both the parties? Once these questions are answered effectively, every MBA program can have a super-specialization league within each batch provided the industry is ready to partner with b-schools in the true sense.