NHRDN B-School ranking focus on evaluating the comprehensive experience at B-Schools with weightages accorded to multiple factors appropriately
While any ranking methodology is up for debate and deliberation, the full-time involvement of NHRDN senior executives lends credibility to the ranking
Different people apply different lenses while viewing the question, ‘What makes an ideal business school?’ While some view it through the singular dimension of placements, faculty or quality of infrastructure, others believe a good business school is not just a teaching shop but whose quality of knowledge creation, application and dissemination enables them to recruit good students and get them placed in the best organizations.
Though Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management (ISSWBM) in Kolkata was the first institute to offer a full-time MBA programme in 1953, it was only in the last decade that the country had seen the rapid mushrooming of business schools thanks to the economic revolution augmented by government policy. In no time, what constituted as a problem of scarcity rapidly metamorphosed into a problem of plenty.
With this proliferation of business schools, the dimensions of decision-making rapidly expanded for both aspirants and recruiters, making it difficult to choose which B-School is better. The rules of the game have changed and one needs to evaluate multiple dimensions while assessing a business school. And this is where the NHRDN-People Matters B-School Ranking 2014 helps. For the second year running, National HRD Network – the national body for Human Resources professionals in the country – and People Matters, a leading knowledge and media platform in the HR space, have joined hands to bring the second edition of the B-School ranking for 2013-14.
Rajeev Dubey, National President, NHRDN and President (Group HR, Corporate Services & Aftermarket) and Member of the Group Executive Board, Mahindra & Mahindra, said, “Recruitment from B-School campuses is an important part of an organization’s talent strategy. With such high stakes, companies need to ensure that they get the best fit, given their business strategies and the consequent talent requirements. We believe there is large value addition in providing the various stakeholders with an unbiased ranking of B-Schools through a process which is robust, transparent and validated.”
NHRDN is conducting this study to assess and evaluate business school establishments in the country and rank them on their capability to impact and shape the market of business education. The study methodology was developed and executed by an independent research organization, Cinque Education. Unlike other B-School rankings, the schools were assessed in a transparent and rigorous manner. The study spanned over many months and was interspersed with deliberations and inputs from some of the finest corporate and academic minds put together.
“It is our endeavour to ensure that the NHRDN B-School ranking is rated as one of the most transparent, credible and rigorous B-School assessment processes in the country. We are confident that this ranking will continue to gain acceptability among the key stakeholders, including the participating B-Schools,” P. Dwarakanath, Advisor, Group Human Capital, Max India and past president of NHRDN.
Kamal Singh, Director General of NHRDN, said, “Our aim is to bring out a credible study backed by the industry and provides our stakeholders with credible information through a professional, transparent and validated process. This is what NHRDN is tirelessly working at, trying to establish its one-of-a-kind ranking process driven by an Advisory Committee comprising of distinguished management professionals and an eminent jury.”
The Cinque Education team also saw other research agencies making validation visits to the colleges, albeit on a smaller scale. Subrat Kumar, Director and Co-founder of Cinque Education, remarks, “While other popular ranking studies mostly rely on source-provisioned data, the NHRDN B-School ranking initiative validates data through individual visits by the assessment team to all the business school establishments included in the assessment.”
Singh added, “I am delighted to share that in the first edition (2012-13), the ranking had received stupendous response and appreciation both from the industry and academia, with 42 B-Schools participating in the same. This year over 50 B-Schools are participating, including some schools that did not participate last year. We believe this is a testimony of the success of this initiative.”
The nine competencies
The ranking is an evaluation of the academic environment and industry reputation of the leading B-schools in the country. The 55 schools participating in the assessment were ranked on nine broad competencies – Student Profile, Faculty Profile, Academic Excellence, Infrastructure, Campus Life, Placements, Corporate Connectedness, Accreditation & Linkages, Leadership & Governance. These were finalized through consultations with 30 top senior executives.
Seema Bangia, Head-HR, Mahindra Defence Systems, says, “As the ranking is done by an independent body with no vested interests, it gives more relevant and real data.” As Nishchae Suri, Partner & Country Head-People & Change, KPMG, put it, “NHRDN B-School rankings focus on evaluating the comprehensive experience at B-Schools with weightages accorded to multiple factors appropriately. It is a good reflection of the B-School’s standings in the eyes of aspiring students, recruiters and other peer B-Schools.”
Talking about the study’s unique approach, Dr. Jitendra K Das, Director, FORE School of Management, said, “There is lot of focus in the process on crucial aspects like geographic, academic and social diversification of students, quality of research work by the faculty, teaching and learning strategies beyond the class rooms, strategies adopted by B-Schools for strengthening the faculty in terms of global exposure etc. This makes the whole ranking process quite transparent, a learning experience for future and to adopt new innovations and approaches for bringing efficiency and strengthening quality of the overall system.”
Shortlisting of B-Schools & Research Process
The process started with a shortlisting exercise based on ranking studies from several sources in the last five years, and after prolonged deliberations with an advisory team and NHRDN Board members consisting of industry stalwarts and academia greats, the final list was generated after many iterative processes. The committee unanimously decided to consider only those schools in the exercise that offer courses affiliated to UGC or AICTE. Arun Sehgal, EVP-HR, GSK, said, “This is the only study of this kind, which is guided by the top HR professionals of the country.”
Following that, the shortlisted business schools were invited to participate in the study and were sent a questionnaire built around the nine key competencies. Validation of the data was the next and the most painstaking step in the process. Over the course of the next several months, the research team went around the country visiting every business school and conducting interviews with deans, faculty and students of each individual business school to validate the authenticity of the claims made by the business schools.
“The NHRDN survey is about as unbiased and objective as it can get. The methodology is robust, the data collection painstaking and the analysis transparent. There are no axes to be ground, no lobbies to be satisfied and no agenda other than to provide vital and accurate data to recruiters in particular and the student and business community at large,” said D. Rajiv Krishnan, Partner & India Leader, People & Organization, Advisory Services, EY.
After the rigorous and intensive validation exercise, the schools were scored against the attributes and adjusted against any pre-validation biases. While any ranking methodology is up for debate and deliberation, the full time involvement of senior executives from the National HRD network lends credibility to these rankings as an exercise that reflects the voice of the Indian industry. Rajiv Arora, Human Resources Leader, Mercer Consulting, says, “In my view, this is most neutral study and the criteria elements have an equal balance of quantitative and qualitative data thus making the study very valuable from the perspective of student community and industry.” Arora’s views are mirrored by Prof. S. Sriram, who is the CEO & Executive Director, at Great Lakes Institute of Management. Prof. Sriram says, “Unlike most other rankings, there is no scope for commercial pressures/considerations as NHRDN is an autonomous professional body.”
To view the ranking methodology, click here.
So has the ranking process improved from last year? KPMG’s Suri said the second year results showcase robustness of the methodology and highlight the fact that any change in ranking would need substantial effort by participating B-schools on multiple factors. Dr Rajan Saxena, Vice Chancellor of the Mumbai-based business school, NMIMS, felt that this time placements were not the only factor that was given the highest weightage. “Leadership and people related issues were also considered. At the same time, the consultative process has also been more frequent,” he says. Mahindra’s Seema Bangia talked about how the popularity of the ranking is increasing as more and more stakeholders use it as a reference point.
Trends from this year’s ranking
The NHRDN-People Matters B-School ranking study revealed several trends in the business education sector in India. The Indian industry and broader economic conditions are driving several changes in business education in the country. Some of the more notable trends are as follows:
Greater focus on international accreditation: There is a sudden rush among business schools in India to gain international accreditations. Our analysts believe that international accreditation will become a big differentiator for business schools in the coming times.
Leadership and governance concerns: A disturbing trend seen across many business schools in India is the lack of solid leadership and tangible vision. Across business schools in the public and private sectors, traditional top-down communication paradigms continue to exist, resulting in loss of effective communication. Barring some schools, there is a noticeable lack of trust between staff and management in business school establishments across all zones.
Portrayal of credibility: Over-reporting the number of faculty and the school’s affiliations with international establishments is rampant among many business schools in India in their attempt to score well in ranking studies and for good press. This kind of misappropriation results in applicants and recruiters forming a false and incorrect opinion about a business school, often to be met with surprise when the facts unravel. Aneeta Madhok, MD, Open Spaces Consulting, said, “Beyond all other aspects of assessment, in the eyes of a recruiting organization, a good business school is one that has a steady focus on building long-term relationships with an organization rather than concentrate only on the present year’s placements. B-Schools often undermine the importance of building long-term relationships.”
Lack of scholastic commitment: Most business schools demonstrate a lack of commitment to upgrade the skills and capabilities of its academic staff. Sending staff for skill enhancement programmes in reputed national and international institutions are expensive and they are worried about staff attrition after they come back from such programmes. Dr. NMIMS’ Saxena said, “Good B-Schools invest in faculty systems and making faculty positions attractive for individuals to join and stay with them.”
Greater research commitment: It is a welcome sign that B-Schools in India are investing more in developing research capabilities. For example, on March 20, IIM Calcutta and the Ivey Business School, Canada, signed a MoU to jointly develop and publish India-relevant cases. Many other business schools are similarly looking at enhancing their research capabilities either through national and international collaborations with academic and professional establishments. Rajneesh Bawa, Director HR India & South East Asia, CNH, says, “The time has come that B Schools must concentrate on Research and Knowledge management and focus on organisational culture that supports learning, sharing and use of knowledge from research findings.”
Greater social orientation: Business schools in India are demonstrating greater commitment towards the society through several initiatives to promote social entrepreneurship. Among them, collaborations with NGOs, guest lectures from representatives in the social sector, and active project-level involvement of students in the social sector are the ways in which business schools are showing greater social commitment.
Management education continues to attract the best and the brightest talent, and is arguably the hottest sector in education services in the country. While favourable regulation has increased competition, it cannot be denied that credibility is a direct consequence of the quality of knowledge creation, application and dissemination. While management education continues to evolve globally, it will continue to capture the fancy of the academic and professional circles in the coming times. Management education is going through a tumultuous period right now and serious questions are being raised about its future. The road ahead has to be governed by quality considerations and we hope that the ranking will serve as the crystal ball for management education in India.