Business Education in India

Whither graduate business education in India?
Dr Suku Bhaskaran
Dean, GD Goenka World Institute: Lancaster University

In the past decade Indias annual growth in gross domestic product (GDP) has matched GDP growth rates recorded by the tiger economies of East Asia and the ASEAN in its hey days. Rapid development would mean greater demand for qualified technocrats, managers, scientists and other skilled individuals to manage public, private and not-for-profit organizations in highly competitive and globally integrated environments. Is Indias graduate business education ready for the new needs and challenges?

I would surmise that, notwithstanding substantial increase in the numbers of public and private B-Schools, GBE in India has not matched the substantial improvements in GBE in East Asia and ASEAN. My observations are likely to be contested. My intent of making these observations is to foster debate, introspection and influence action from stakeholders.

GBE in India face major challenges because of factors such as student selection process, faculty expertise, teaching and learning methods used, lack of attention to rigorous research and research training programs, and non-adoption of global best practices. The Indian Institute/s of Management (IIM) is characterized as hallmarks of quality GBE in India. The first IIM, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIM-C) started-up in November 1961 with support from Alfred P Sloan School of Management, USA. In December 1961, a month later, Indian Institute of Management Ahmadabad (IIM-A) commenced operations with support from Harvard Business School (USA). Consequently, by late 1960s and early 1970s, notwithstanding Indias orientation to central planning and public ownership of large corporations, the countrys policy makers (this is evident from actions pertaining to IIMs and the Indian Institute of Technology/s) encouraged engagement with premier foreign B-Schools including facilitating faculty from India to pursue PhD and post-doctoral work in premier foreign institutions.

However, just as India closed its doors to foreign business and increased public sector participation in business, policy planners adopted an inward looking approach to higher education. Post 1960 an additional eleven IIMs were set-up, in rapid succession in tandem with greater liberalization of Indias economy.

These IIMs were primarily supported through mentorship from IIM-C and IIM-A. Because of non engagement with foreign institutions, from late 1970 Indias GBE did not substantively use foreign expertise and therefore draw first hand experiences in teaching, learning and research in the West. In contrast GBE in newly industrializing countries in East Asia and ASEAN intensified engagements with leading institutions in the West.

Also, student selection in Indias leading B-Schools is almost exclusively based on performance in undergraduate studies and in the Common Assessment Test (CAT). Students admitted to IIMs were predominantly pre-executive experience engineering graduates, and exclusively from within India. Thus, emerged the chasm between GBE in India and the rapidly industrializing countries in East Asia and ASEAN. B-Schools in these countries recruited students from across the world with diverse discipline backgrounds and with at least two years post-undergraduate work experience. Consequently, GBE teaching and learning practices in these countries became increasingly different to that in India.

GBE in India (with perhaps the sole exception of the Indian School of Business (ISB) has continued with these practices and systems including recruiting pre-experience graduates mainly from engineering disciplines and not marketing their programs to foreign students. Because of the substantially lower faculty emoluments and benefits in India compared to that in developed countries and rapidly industrializing East Asia and ASEAN, Indias B-Schools could not attract experienced faculty from abroad. In contrast, top-tier B-Schools in East Asia and ASEAN recruit faculty from all over the world, have a strong cohort of foreign students, provide scholarships or student assistantships so as to attract good quality students from all over the world. An evidence of the rapid strides in GBE made by institutions in East Asia and ASEAN is that by the end of 2011 the Association of Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) had accredited 12 B-Schools in China, 9 B-Schools in South Korea, 5 B-Schools in Taiwan, 3 B-Schools in Singapore, 2 B-Schools in Japan, and 1 B-School in Thailand. However, to-date there is no AACSB accredited B-Schools in India. To catch-up with B-Schools in East Asia and ASEAN, Indias B-Schools need to increase global engagement and adopt global best practices through comprehensive review of teaching, learning and research practices and through recruiting foreign faculty and students.

Note: This is a sponsored article and has NOT been written by the PaGaLGuY Editorial Team. It is intended from an informational perspective only and it is upto the readers to research and verify the claims and judgements in the article before reaching a conclusion.