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BW Businessworld

Focus On Faculty Development

The late president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was right when he called ‘unemploy- ability’ a worse problem than ‘unemployment’

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Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the American politician and sociologist as well as ambassador to India, once said, “If you want to build a world class city, build a great university and wait 200 years.” Within the narrower realm of business schools, India has certainly been building! The number of B-schools in India has more than doubled since 2010, according to data from AACSB International. India boasts more B-schools than any other country, a stunning 24 per cent of the global total.

Moynihan, however, spoke of “great” institutions, and recognised how long it takes to develop them. India’s lead in terms of the quantity of its business schools is not (yet) matched on their quality. Among the world’s top 100 according to the Financial Times, India is home to only four: ISB (27th), IIM-A (29th), IIM-B (49th), and IIM-C (95th).

Given time lags, it would be unfair to expect many of India’s newest B-schools to top global ranking tables. Much more concerning is that a substantial fraction do not even seem to meet basic standards. The last few years have brought about something of a shakeout, with hundreds of schools closing down and many more struggling to attract students and recruiters. But it would be a mistake to count on the passage of time and entries/exits from the market alone to bring about the upgrading required for India’s management education sector to fulfill its potential.

While there are some exciting developments at India’s top tier B-schools such as a partnership with the GMAC to attract more international students, I want to focus on what to do beyond the top tier. A focus on the Top 20 schools not only misses the bottom of the pyramid but also the middle and the majority of the top — everything but the very apex. And 20 is not an arbitrarily exclusive cut-off point. A 2016  Assocham study reported that outside of the Top 20 schools, only 7 per cent of MBA students had secured a job when they completed their programmes. Many were reportedly not employable at all!

More B-schools will probably have to close — estimates reach a thousand or so, about one quarter of the total. But what should schools that aim to survive — and thrive — do? Strengthening faculty must be a top priority. Again, time lags are a major challenge, but there is no shortcut around faculty development since what happens in the classroom is ultimately the key determinant of the quality of any educational experience.

Technology, however, can be of some help, particularly for courses where shortages of qualified faculty are especially severe. Even highly regarded US B-schools struggle to staff courses on topics such as globalisation and international business, which was one of the reasons I decided to create a massive open online course (MOOC) on Coursera called Globalisation of Business Enterprise (GLOBE). In the Indian context, the argument to integrate such resources into B-school curricula seems even stronger than in the West.

The stakes involved with fixing business education in India could scarcely be higher. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that if a country wants to build great companies, it should establish excellent B-schools and then wait for entrepreneurship to flourish, India does need a major human capital upgrade to power its next wave of economic development. The late President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was right when he called “unemployability” a worse problem than unemployment.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Pankaj Ghemawat

The author is the Global Professor of Management and Strategy and Director of the Center for the Globalization of Education and Management at the Stern School of Business at New York University

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