(Photo credit: Timothy Crause)
As the economy enters an uncertain climate, there are indications of a lowered interest in doing an MBA among Indians. The actual Common Admissions Test (CAT) turnout was lower in 2011 compared to 2010, as we had reported earlier. The Economic Times now reports that the country's second and third tier b-schools are considering relaxing their admissions criteria in order to compensate for the smaller applicant pool. Says the ET story,
The director of a Delhi management institute, which ranks amongst the top 40 B-schools in India, said the number of application forms it has sold till date this year is 30% less than last year. Most of our candidates typically apply to multiple institutes.
We don't know how many will ultimately come for the group discussion and interviews. We may have to go a little easy in this phase of selection," said the director, who did not wish to be named.
Till the global economy looks up, this trend is likely to continue, says CAT 2011 convenor Janakiraman Moorthy, but adds the situation does not affect the IIMs since all the institutes taken together have some 3,000 seats, which is less than 1.5% of the total applications.
"But institutes ranked 20-30 are facing a problem," he says. Students are not just betting on MBA as the ultimate choice. They have become more careful after the 2008-09 recession, when several institutes, including the IIMs, faced a problem in placing their students and average placement salaries dipped.
Even as the interest in MBA has been on a worldwide decline since the 2008 economic recession, several b-schools have been experimenting with new learning methods to change the way management is taught. However when Harvard Business School (HBS) --- which might well be to business education what Miles Davis is to jazz --- introduces major transformations in its pedagogy, people listen. After decades of indoctrinating the world with its case study method, HBS is planning to infuse its MBA course with heavy doses of fieldwork. This is a change from its traditional teaching drill of mostly classroom sessions structures around case studies supported by the summer internship. The Economist reports in a story about Harvard's currently running experiments with its MBA course,
... the first year has three elements. First, team-building exercises. Students take turns to lead a group engaged in a project such as designing an eco-friendly sculpture. They learn to collaborate and to give and take feedback. These exercises are loosely based on ones used in the US army.
Second, students will be sent to work for a week with one of more than 140 firms in 11 countries. Already the new intake have had conference calls with these companies, ranging from the Brazilian soapmaker to a Chinese property firm, and gone off-campus to conduct product-development dashes like the one in Copley Mall. This sort of structured learning-by-doing is a world away from HBSs traditional encouragement of students to go on an adventure outside of classes.
In the third novel part of the course, students will be given eight weeks, and seed money of $3,000 each, to launch a small company. The most successful, as voted by their fellow students, will get more funding.
The experiment however, is expensive.
The experiment does not come cheap, adding 10-15% to the courses cost (students pay at least $84,000 a year), which HBS will bear while it figures out what works. A lot is at stake. For where Harvard leads, other universities may follow.
While India's lawmakers squabble over allowing international retail giants to open chain stores in India, retail in the West enters its golden month of the year, when spending peaks due to the Christmas holidays. Professors at a few business schools are using the opportunity to research consumer behaviour related to gift-giving. One research actually implies that in order for the best effect on someone whom you are gifting something, do not wrap it too well! Businessweek reports in a story,
Yale professors Nathan Novemsky and Ravi Dhar and doctoral candidate Jongmin Kim presented people with gifts that were both wrapped and unwrapped. Then they asked them to evaluate the gifts and whether they liked them and how much gratitude they had for the gift giver. While people showed more gratitude and contentment with the gifts if they were badly wrapped or not wrapped at all, nice wrapping created high expectations.
The general idea is that giving consumers a really nice add-on prior to the main product experience can backfire by setting high expectations that lead to disappointment with the main product, says Novemsky of the study, which is being reviewed for publication.
In a month that has had Indians obsess with a nonsense but copiously addictive song such as Kolaveri Di and organise flash mobs (successfully and unsuccessfully), Americans have been busy occupying various types of things and places. You've heard of the original Occupy Wall Street protests. Participants of this and other similar protests are driven by a strong opposition to a society that they believe is inherently built to create social and economic inequality. In the context of education, there is now a Occupy Student Debt movement. Occupy protestors are now also disrupting company visits to America's top business schools, especially those companies that they hold responsible for the 2008 economic collapse.
On November 29, protestors interrupted a career visit (a lot like the pre-placement talk in Indian b-schools, only without the actual placements) by JP Morgan Chase to Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, shouting, JP Morgan, feel free to leave. Not on our campus! Reports Poetsandquants,
Police arrived minutes after the protest began and warned protesters that they needed to exit the doorway or they would be arrested. Most of the protesters moved to the hallway but several of them remained seated in front of the door despite the requests of the police.
Police eventually cleared the protesters from the building after a issuing a final warning that those who remained inside the building would be arrested.
According to the public radio account, students who were in the Kelley School during the protest appeared largely unsupportive, calling it frustrating and unnecessary. The campus newspaper quoted one undergraduate at Kelley who had tried to attend the J.P. Morgan presentation.
Paul Gillette, who identified himself as a sophomore who hopes to land a job in investment banking after graduating, expressed disappointment that he was unable to attend the event.
Gillette, who told the newspaper he disagrees with the Occupy movement, said he thinks the protesters are trying to take away the essential component of the American Dream.
Eventually, five protestors were arrested. The Chicago Tribune reports that Indian University has warned against similar protests in the future that 'hindered its educational mission'.
Kelley is not the first b-school to have been mobbed by the protestors. In October, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania was similarly invaded by the protestors. Read about it in this other Poetsandquants story.
Please share links to other interesting news reading that you came across this week. Wish everyone the best for the coming week.