Thursday, September 25, 2008

Notes from the B-School Factory...

The recent Outlook Magazine - which carries the survey of India's Best B-Schools - has two very refreshing and insightful articles.


1. The Matchstick Managers

    It came as a much-needed shock to the system. Two months ago, IIT Madras director M.S. Ananth raised an issue that everyone in the academic fraternity agrees with, but no one quite wants to speak about openly. Questioning the relevance of the IIT entrance examination, he said the present system fails to attract the best talent, those with raw intelligence. This, he stressed, was because a large number of students took the help of coaching institutes to crack the exams and did not possess the genuine skills required for the IITs.

    While Ananth’s observation was based on the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) for the IITs, it applies equally to the Combined Admission Test (CAT) and other tests conducted for entry into India’s premier management institutes.... For instance, there are the Xavier Admissions Test (XAT)—which has 43 affiliate B-schools, the Management Aptitude Test (MAT) as well as a slew of state entrance tests for various management institutions. Most of these use similar methods to test candidates....

    ...What then are the complaints against the current system of testing? For one, there is a clear feeling that it lacks in testing social values, considered important today. Says management guru Mrityunjaya B. Athreya, "The B-schools have gone too far towards the objective-type examinations and there is a general decline in language and communications skills. These are important for management. There is also not enough stress on the general skills and knowledge required in this kind of work." He goes on to add that while business is gradually stepping up its exposure to corporate social responsibility (CSR), that spirit is not visible in management entrance examinations. "It is not enough to produce technicians and engineers. We need holistic people," says Athreya."... [Read on...]
2. Aloof From the Light
    "...It was a surprising, and telling, exclusion from the list of compulsory courses at IIM-A. From this year, ‘Indian Social and Political Environment’ is no longer an option for first-year MBA students at the country’s leading B-school. The course, which has been around for many years, encouraged MBA students to learn something beyond boardroom skills by allowing them to regularly interact with disadvantaged sections of society and visit sites of development projects, among other things. This year’s batch at IIM-A will no longer have that privilege... There were some who felt this could be just another example of how alienated business schools are from the country’s social realities. And how, with a single-minded focus on training executives to be in sync with the corporate mantra of maximising growth and profits, B-school graduates are becoming immune to larger social responsibilities.

    ....Managing land acquisitions and the environment, for example, are seen by most students as more annoyance and expense than responsibility. That’s a pity, because businesses have to willy-nilly deal with such issues that have widespread social ramifications. Looking at the intense opposition from local stakeholders to the numerous SEZs being planned, or the environmental opposition to large projects, one would have thought B-schools would sensitise future managers to these prickly matters.

    ..."Most students who come to business schools do so with a one-point goal of getting a good salary. They seem to be increasingly less informed about the problems our country faces and less concerned about the larger humane role that businesses can play," adds Jayanta Bandyopadhyay, professor at IIM Calcutta’s Centre for Development and Environmental Policy. "It seems educational institutions are creating intellectual marginals at the core of our metropolises," he observes.

    The B-schools, unfortunately, couldn’t care less. Most MBA graduates are lapped up with high salary packages by firms hungry for fresh talent. In that sense, there’s no market-driven push to incorporate courses of greater social relevance. And this perpetuates business that is isolated from the rest of society".... [Read on...]


noni said...

tag this site to my blog

bombay dosti said...

Thats THE one thing,that I loved about my institute. We had courses where documentaries about the impact of Indsutrialisation were shown.There were sessions that we organised on Bhopal gas tragedy and Coke.Well, we also had Coke on campus for placements! All this led to a lot of conflict within our minds.But atleast there was a discussion about it, is what I am happy about. But more than any of the courses,we had a unique advantage. The presence of our Social Work friends. Thats a briilliant combination. We go back to our rooms raving about some corporate initiative, and they would give an entirely different perspective. Our dining hall, windows were pasted with news mostly related to some social event, or some communication pamphlet that Social Work Students had made in their classrooms. The experience was out of this world.
I am sorry, that i went on and on.
But this topic is truly close to my heart.
We also had a different method of recruiting earlier.That has changed now, but i hope the campus remains the same.

Madhukar said...

that we have such islands in the b-school ocean is one hopeful thing... and TISS always had this advantage. But we do need more of these places which create "conflicts in mind" - only cognitive dissonance can make one become aware of one's premises - and so be able to question them.

you caught me on the wrong footing :)... how does one tag?

angelin said...

The Chicago Tribune article makes the claim that toxic sludge, rich in heavy metals, are being released into Lake Michigan...a pretty serious claim. However, according to BP's factsheet, there is no sludge being released into Lake Michigan at all. In fact BP claims that they only release treated water which is 99.9% water and not sludge.


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rahul said...

I agree students make a beeline to b-schools with the sole aim of being lapped up by those bulge bracket I-banks offering crores of salary, with most of those being wiped out or enervated, I think the attitude of youth will change.

noni said...

i tag again..but showing same footing....(may be feed related other also facing same by ur link)