Introducing new courses, updating the existing ones and employing new 'out-of-classroom' methods in learning are some of the maneuvers that Indian b-schools are adopting to stay relevant and competitive. As a result, students now have a cornucopia of elective courses and learning methodologies to choose from across the spectrum of b-schools. We review curriculum changes in the MBA programs of some of the most preferred private b-schools of India.
Autonomous b-schools have the discretion to change their curricula without any statutory interference and as a result, most top schools make incremental additions to their curricula every year based on feedback from the faculty, students, alumni and the industry. A renewed focus on ethics, greater stress on environmental sustainability, new electives on niche sectors and introduction of new off-campus learning initiatives are some of the embellishments that b-schools have added to their MBA curricula this year.
Increasing global focus on environmental consciousness has made b-schools either introduce new courses or update existing ones to be green friendly. Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS), Mumbai has made the course 'Environment Management' compulsory for all its students whereas Xavier Institute of Management (XIM), Bhubaneshwar has trod the same path with their 'Environment and Sustainability' course. XLRI School of Business and Human Resources, Jamshedpur has revamped its course 'Sustainable Development Of Corporate Strategy' to focus on the environmental impact of corporate initiatives while KJ Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and Research (SIMSR), Mumbai has introduced a new course 'Environmentally-conscious Manufacturing' to their Operations program. Symbiosis Centre for Management and Human Resource Development (SCMHRD), Pune also has increased the focus on the environment aspect of its 'Infrastructure Management' course.
Finance and Operations
Changes to the finance area have largely been in the form of sector-specific electives. International Management Institute (IMI), Delhi has introduced a new course called 'Infrastructure Finance' while SCMHRD has increased the weightage of 'Infrastructure Management' to 100 credits. IMI has introduced a course in Private Equity while TA Pai Management Institute (TAPMI), Manipal is offering a 'Strategic Financial Management' elective. These new courses deal with the nitty-gritties of the world of private equity and venture capital. In Operations, SIMSR has introduced 'Industrial Management', a course dealing with the time-method analysis in manufacturing and 'Maintenance Management' to highlight the importance of maintenance and its effects on manufacturing. Courses like 'Manufacturing Process Management' by Management Development Institute (MDI), Gurgaon revolving around the use of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and 'Six Sigma and Green-belt' by TAPMI pertaining to quality control, have also been introduced under operations.
In the marketing area, b-schools this year have concentrated more on updating the courses rather than introducing new ones. IMI has split its previously composite electives like 'Product and Brand Management' and 'Sales and Distribution' into separate electives for each sub-area. The school is also training students on software packages in their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) course, which earlier used to focus on the marketing component of CRM. SIMSR has updated its marketing specialization with indigenously developed case studies with Indian scenarios being the focus. NMIMS and TAPMI have made the marketing simulation game 'Markstrat' a compulsory part of their curriculum. Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad (MICA), known for its niche communication program, and SCMHRD have introduced 'Luxury Management' which offers insights on management of luxury brands. Similarly MICA and NMIMS are offering a 'Sports Management' elective which evangelizes the use of sports as a long-term strategic platform to engage consumers of different categories. TAPMI has also leveraged their annual marketing strategy event 'Brandscan' and introduced a new course 'Advanced Marketing Research' tailored toward it. This TAPMI says, has improved the performance of its students in Brandscan, benefiting both the students and the participating corporates.
Human Resources Management
All b-schools concur that the HR field is highly susceptible to change, which is the reason for its constant updation. XLRI claims that it is the first b-school in India to introduce 'Managing Redundancy', a course dealing with the challenges arising due to the increased use of technology. SCMHRD has introduced 'Idle Time Management', a course that deals with utilization of the non-work times in the IT and the manufacturing industry. MDI has introduced new courses such as 'Management of Creativity & Innovation in Organizations' and 'Employer Branding' in their HR program. SIMSR has similarly updated the content of their Labour Law course to satiate the demands of the service sector. They have also introduced a new course called 'Internal Communication' which deals with the effective communication of the company objectives and initiatives to all its employees, across all levels. There is also an increasing focus on ethics in HR with MDI introducing a course called 'Social Conscientization'.
Emphasis on ethics
SPJIMR, XLRI, NMIMS and TAPMI are laying an emphasis on ethics. SPJIMR has made ethics an integral part of the curriculum with a weightage of almost 40% in a trimester. XLRI has introduced a compulsory course called 'Ethical ways of running a business'. NMIMS has increased the component of ethics in the mandatory 'Corporate Social responsibility' course. TAPMI has a large component of their orientation programme dedicated to ethics. Similar emphasis has also been laid on the spiritual texts, with SPJIMR running a course called 'Management through the Bhagvad Gita' where students analyze the Gita text for management lessons. NMIMS is planning to introduce a course on similar lines.
Learning methodologies and non-classroom initiatives
Some b-schools are also changing their orientation programmes to make them more attractive. Instead of a dry classroom session, NMIMS sends its students on a treasure hunt encompassing the city of Mumbai, with students having to use local transport and communicate in the local language (Marathi) to 'find the treasure'. TAPMI has a three-week exclusive orientation program, which they call 'Immersion'. It consists of a set of six non-credit modules which deal with the case pedagogy, IT and quantitative techniques, book review, art of thinking and reflection and achievement orientation.
The innovations and changes are not only reflected in the curriculum but also in various non-classroom initiatives. Most of the non-classroom learning is directed towards the social development of their students. XIMB and XLRI ask their students to compulsorily spend three nights in a village. They are encouraged to interact with the villagers and get to know their problems. On similar lines, NMIMS has instituted something called as a 'WeCare' initiative, where NMIMS students spend three weeks in an NGO, working with them. NMIMS also has introduced something called as 'Interest-based workshops', run by both the faculty and students, to encourage non-classroom learning. Management learning from films and literature and Management learning from art and history are some of the interest based workshops run by the b-school.
In addition to their 'summer internship in an NGO' rule, SPJIMR has also instituted a new initiative called 'Abhyudaya'. As a part of this initiative, SPJIMR students mentor 150 students selected by the b-school from various municipal schools in Mumbai. Students have to compulsorily spend 2 hours every 2 weeks with their 'mentees', guiding them academically and in their extra-curricular activities. XLRI has a collaboration with the Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF), run by the legendary Bachendri Pal. All XLRI students have to attend an adventure camp which includes water sports and rock climbing, supervised by TSAF.