MYRA InSight Special Lecture (23) on “The Durable and the New in Contemporary Business Education” By Dr. Sudhendra Seshadri

Dr. Sudhendra Seshadri, in his first official address to the students in his new role as Senior
Associate Dean (Academics) & Distinguished Professor of Marketing at MYRA School of Business, Mysore chose a
fitting topic – “The Durable and the New in Contemporary Business Education”. 

His
talk was logically divided into two segments – the first half was
dedicated to the paradigms in business that have influenced durable
principles of business education in the last 2-3 decades; the second
half of his talk addressed the four themes that contemporary business
education is embracing. 

He explained that the traditional view of business with a mantra of “Buy Low-Sell High” saw a single bottom line – Financial Profit or Loss – that
measured fiscal performance to evaluate  the success of an
organization. This simplistic mantra has evolved today. Taking students
through durable ruling paradigms, he identified two mantras: “Create Value – Capture Value” and “Buy Competencies – Sell Performances”. 

He
then journeyed through developments during the last 2-3 decades. New
pricing strategies for a Volume-Business-Approach with decreasing
margins per unit, both offline and online Retail Markets have brought in
a systemic transformation in the way business today operates, he said. Companies like Wal-Mart, Carrefour, Metro, Tesco, which have been doing
business for long years have set new thinking of Activity-Based-Costs
(ABC’s), Transaction Costs and Property-Rights contracting into
practice. Amazon, Flipkart, Uber, Ola, e-Bay and a host of other
companies use the electronic screen with this paradigm. These strategies
and approaches have resulted in a new value proposition though with
still a single financial bottom line – a Win-Win-Win for all its stakeholders – the consumer, the retailer and the brand – a “Stack High – Sell Low” mantra – for their business platforms.

This
gradually transitioned into a double bottom line when people, rather
the social impact was brought in as another factor to enumerate the
success of an organization. This scenario where the product ‘Design’ is
no more a technical domain, but indeed dictates as the marketing USP;
this paradigm of innovative design and differentiated products and
services has meant that the vision – and design – approach builds the
‘brand’, and with it, the Design Department of brands has come to work
under the Chief Marketing Officer, changing the mantra to “Buy-Design-Sell Identities”. People plus Profit – a double bottom line thus
came into existence. Further, the customer’s life-time purchases from
building relationships justified upfront costs of acquiring customers – a
product may be a one – time purchase but the recurring purchases of
complementary consumables set the cash rolling in; the new mantra
became “Buy Customers-Sell Lifetimes” – a double bottom line proposition, again.

With the social significance of sustainable business solutions a new corporation – the B-Corp (The Benefit Corporation) – has emerged as a legal entity. Its focus on the triple bottom line – People Planet and Profit – is the new business proposition and is here to stay, he emphasized. Aravind Eye Care is a classic example of the Indian Social Enterprise validating the DWBDG (Do Well By Doing Good) concept“Buy Just – Sell Good” is its new mantra. 

In
the remainder of his talk, Dr. Seshadri related the new mantras to the
new themes in contemporary business education – according to him, the Four “IN” themes.

IN-dia is
the place which has huge spending power and demand for all sorts of
products and services. Management education in India has an important
role to play in national deployment of cutting-edge and innovative
solutions for sustainable-productivity growth, he said. “What goods and services will your generation produce and consume?” he asked – “and with what carbon footprints?”. New business models to provide environmental services to substitute
damaging climate change externalities are in the hands of the new Indian
business managers, he opined.

An IN-terdisciplinary approach
in business education brings together competitive advantage and
compliance issues in your fiduciary duties, he deliberated. “Real-world
problems do not come packaged in disciplinary boxes, so challenges you
face in business are not just ‘Finance’ or ‘Marketing’ or ‘Information
Systems’ or ‘Operations Management’ problems. Business solutions to real
world problems require interdisciplinary approaches. Such a holistic
approach can translate well to efficiency, effectiveness and innovation,
he said. To validate his thoughts, Dr. Sudhi Seshadri made a special
note of how the Bhopal Gas Tragedy could have been perhaps avoided if an
Interdisciplinary approach had been followed. Design Compromises were
made in design for financial reasons, to bring investments by foreign
entities under lowered tax rates; insufficient respect for organic
agriculture and an undue faith in macro-marketing systems of
agrichemicals of dubious value created demand pressures, impossible
price-cost trade-offs, and too-low margins for adequate safety measures;
poor Operations Management coupled with neglected commodity futures
created massive stocks of chemical inventory physically on the premises,
resulting in poor maintenance schedules of critical facilities and
violation of safety protocols; Human Resource Department drastically
failed in providing adequate training and allocation of responsibility
resulting in under-reported EHS violations-altogether this ‘disciplinary’-silo-ized approach contributed to the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, he reflected.

He
observed that today business education formally recognizes conflicts of
internal stakeholder interests and resulting strategic behavior. So it
is not only about efficient techniques, but about motivations and IN-centives. 
He explained that because the larger society has many stakeholders, the
new business education system should and increasingly does embrace
instruments to adjust the incentives of both internal and external
stakeholders

Last but not the least, IN-tegrity is
important to business relationships, he elucidated. The role of
integrity at the personal and the organizational level must be
emphasized by your business education because the complexity and
inscrutability of modern business rises each day. Moral Hazard
prevention is a huge problem – as the financial bubble in Western
economies demonstrated.  

He concluded his talk by reiterating the continuous need for business education to be guided by the principles of the Triple Bottom Line – People, Planet and Profit.

MYRA
School of Business is founded on the guiding principles of the triple
bottom line- financial, environmental and social performances of
business enterprises.  MYRA’s Centre for Excellence in Sustainable
Business Innovation (CESBI) launched in January  2013, provides an open
platform for researchers, students, policy-makers, corporations,
academic institutions, and non-profit organizations, to work in this
direction and publish ground breaking research that addresses today’s
challenges; define tomorrow’s problems and showcase regional and global
developments in sustainable innovation. 

Students
participated with a lively Q&A session post the talk. Dr. Abhinanda
Sarkar, Associate Dean and Director of Research, Dr. Sudhindra H Rao,
Professor of Information Systems and Dean-Student Affairs were present
on the occasion.

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