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BW Businessworld

A New Introduction

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It is payback of a different kind. A recent study conducted by London-based Association of MBAs and the UK's Durham School of Business criticises the world's leading business schools for contributing to the economic crisis by producing MBAs who are focused on creating shareholder value and high-risk strategies instead of sustainable practices and stakeholder responsibility. The study stresses upon the need to change B-school curriculum worldwide to incorporate issues such as risk management and ethics. The result: B-schools rate ethics and risk management among the most important curriculum topics for the post-downturn MBA.

The sentiment is reflected in India, too. "Many companies do not practise risk management and corporate governance," says Satyajit Kanjiwala, founder and CEO of Forexserve, a Mumbai-based treasury and risk management services firm. "If such issues are taught in the initial stage, MBA education can become more meaningful." Adds Krishnan Sekar, an IIM-Calcutta alumnus working with Infosys Technologies as business development associate in North America: "The crisis has helped put things in perspective as we learned that things are not black and white always."

For once, academia is in tune with industry. B-schools in developed economies and in emerging markets are working to incorporate the lessons of the downturn into their curriculum. Subjects like business ethics, risk management, corporate governance and sustainable business practices have become important in the post-downturn world. IIM-Lucknow added a course on corporate governance last year in its curriculum. International Management Institute (IMI) has a similar course and is now trying to incorporate governance-related issues in other courses. IIM-Lucknow has optional courses like leadership through literature, business in society, and is also looking at introducing new courses on issues like environment and social consciousness. 

IIM-Kozhikode has formed a review committee comprising its senior faculty and Canadian and Singapore-based B-schools' deans  for curriculum restructuring. "We plan to change our curriculum drastically, putting more thrust on courses like leadership and innovation, environment, society, political sensitivity, cross-cultural leadership and global business," says Debashis Chatterjee, director of IIM-Kozhikode. 

Other Indian B-schools are also making changes. "After the downturn we started focusing more on business analytics and ethics," says Rajan Saxena, vice-chancellor of Mumbai-based NMIMS University. "We not only look at teaching ethics as a separate subject but raising ethical values within students while teaching other subjects, especially in marketing and finance." Adds Himadri Das, academic dean of IMI: "We have a course on business ethics and different courses on financial derivatives, financial engineering and risk management to address the issues of risk identification and measurement, and exotic financial products."

Yet another important subject of business sustainability is catching up fast. "Today, managers are trained for manufacturing and services sectors that operate on old paradigm and nothing much is being done in the area of sustainable business practices," says Vinod Kala, founder director of Emergent Ventures, a global consulting and finance firm. IMI is talking to  global universities with specialised MBA programmes with a strong focus on sustainable business models to introduce sustainability in its curriculum.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 28-06-2010)