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BW Businessworld

B-schools Unplugged

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Even though the Harvard Business School invented the degree that we know as Master in Business Administration (MBA) 102 years ago, the concept of studying business dates back 253 years to the Aula do Comércio in Lisbon. Centuries of existence, outstanding faculty and exceptional alumni have more or less settled the pecking order of B-schools in America and Europe. An upset is uncommon — at least at the top — and a reshuffle has not taken place in decades.

But that cannot be said for maturing economies, especially ours. India's extremely competitive B-school market is as vibrant as our youthful nation. The spirited launch of new B-schools every other day proves that this market is far from settled and new entrants will keep the older ones on their toes with spanking new buildings, international faculty and alliances, state-of-the-art infrastructure and technology. Clearly, every institute sees itself as a contender for the top slots, rubbing shoulders with the likes of IIM Ahmedabad and IIM Calcutta.

Such dynamism in the market keeps us all excited at BW about our annual B-school rankings. Major upsets are not uncommon, though the two oldest IIMs and XLRI have been tough to dislodge. Institutes raise the pitch in the media before every new session, attracting thousands of students. An occasional fraud or impropriety has often raised calls for the need for a regulator for the 4,000-odd B-schools that have sprung up all over the country. But that has not deterred those who are in it for the long haul.

Our survey this year has unravelled some fresh trends. First, B-schools in the National Capital Region have shot up the rankings, occupying seven of the top 20 spots this year against six last year. Second, almost all institutes that improved their rankings have either vastly improved their infrastructure or have given greater importance to interface with industry and on improving students' soft skills.

As is the case in all downturns, the number of applicants to B-schools increased dramatically because the opportunity cost of acquiring a degree is the least when increments are under freeze. Savour these and many other trends along with some exciting debates, besides rankings across five parameters, in this issue.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 25-06-2012)