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India’s Best B-Schools

The five-month-long exercise to evaluate performance of India’s best B-schools has finally come to an end, and the results are out. We have ranked institutes in different categories, such as government-aided, private and sectoral. We have ranked one-year programmes like the one offered by the Indian School of Business (ISB) separately. University departments, too, have been listed separately. We have done this because institutes in different categories have different operating constraints. To assess an institute, we have used 12 broad parameters (see methodology) which were selected after taking inputs from all stakeholders of a business school.

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By Premchand Palety

The five-month-long exercise to evaluate performance of India’s best B-schools has finally come to an end, and the results are out. We have ranked institutes in different categories, such as government-aided, private and sectoral. We have ranked one-year programmes like the one offered by the Indian School of Business (ISB) separately. University departments, too, have been listed separately. We have done this because institutes in different categories have different operating constraints. To assess an institute, we have used 12 broad parameters (see methodology) which were selected after taking inputs from all stakeholders of a business school.

I personally visited some of these institutes, and could see that the prolonged sluggishness in the Indian economy has had an impact on most of them. Some top B-schools are in expansion mode, increasing capacity and going for global accreditation. At the same time, there is contraction in the lower end of the sector. According to All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) statistics, more than 300 B-schools shut down between 2012 and 2015. Many others are operating with reduced student intake, and some are on the verge of closing. The placement scenario in top institutes this year is better than last year, but most lower-rung schools are struggling for students and recruiters. The good news is that some of them are facing the crisis head-on by reinventing themselves. This has given a much-needed fillip to entrepreneurship in campuses. There is also a new kind of industry interface, where the focus is on improving students’ skills, and consequently their placement prospects. Most of our B-schools, however, still have a long way to go in building partnerships with industry to create or apply new knowledge.

Though they are nowhere close to Babson College or Stanford University in promoting entrepreneurship, about 20 of our B-schools have become proactive in giving a boost to start-ups. Rajagiri Business School in Kochi, for example, has given space on its campus to two groups of students to start their enterprises. One of them, called Bizessence, a boutique technology advisory and implementation services provider, has grown from a group of four into a 15-member team in just two years, and is all set to move out of the campus and into its own office. The other start-up, Kiwi Ads, was launched by two friends with a passion for film-making, about a year ago. The institute not only gave them space but also became their first client. The firm has grown now into a team of five, and is doing good business. Encouraged by the success of these two startups, Rajagiri has constructed a whole new building with three floors dedicated to start-ups. Says director Joseph I. Injodey, “We want to encourage entrepreneurship in a big way. Besides giving space, we have also started entrepreneurship cell on the campus, to facilitate interaction between students and successful entrepreneurs, and also to nurture relevant skills.”

Amrita University is another well-known South Indian institute that is encouraging students to be job creators. Besides introducing entrepreneurship courses in its curriculum, it has partnered with the government to set up the Amrita Technology Business Incubator (TBI). Says chairman Raghu Raman, who has himself been a serial entrepreneur, in Silicon Valley, “Since its inception in 2008, Amrita TBI has incubated 19 start-ups, mentored 105, built 25 products, and filed for four patents. Through Amrita TBI Pitchfest, aspiring entrepreneurs can showcase their ideas and get qualified to receive total seed investment up to $100,000, along with an incubation space, on the school premises. “Of the top Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), IIM Calcutta has been more proactive in funding start ups. The institute has collaborated with the Tata Group to fund start-ups in the social entrepreneurship space. It has also launched ‘ideas to implementation’ or I2I, an international business plan competition to be held annually. Last year, about 300 budding entrepreneurs applied. The 10 selected finalists were provided a month-long mentorship through sector experts, and were invited for pitching sessions at the institute.

Deferred placement policy in some top B-schools has also given a boost to the entrepreneurial culture on their campuses. Under this policy, fresh graduates who opt to start their own enterprise can again participate in the placement process if their business fails after two years. Says H. Chaturvedi , director of the Birla Institute of Management & Technology (BIMTECH), which follows such a policy, “Earlier, the fear of failure deterred students from starting their own venture immediately after graduation. But now, placement assurance provided by the institute acts as a safeguard against such failures.” The institute is incubating four start-ups and has also launched an eight-week Entrepreneurial Internship Programme (EIP) which students can take instead of a regular summer internship. Under this programme, students are trained in writing business plans, making presentation to investors, and other relevant skills.

Another interesting trend is the changing nature of institute-industry interaction. Some companies, such as KPMG, have a unique partnership with B-schools such as the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS). The firm sells training modules to the institute, and also recruits some of the students. “Its a win-win situation,” says Rajan Saxena, the vice-chancellor of the university. “Students get to acquire new skills from experts in their field with the possibility of being placed. It’s also a new source of revenue for the firm, and they don’t have to spend resources on training new recruits.”

A.K. Sengupta, director of SIES College of Management Studies in Mumbai, concurs. He says, “In our institute, many companies such as E&Y impart training in the third semester to students whom they shortlist for hiring. We don’t pay anything to the firms for training. They do it because this way, they save on post-recruitment training and also identify suitable candidates.”

IIM Indore has also come up with a new practice to expose students to corporate functioning. In the first year of the postgraduate programme, all the students have to visit companies in nearby industrial areas to see how organizations work, even as they study in the classroom.

A major cause of concern, however, is relevant research. We used secondary sources, such as Eleviser’s Scopus, to track publications in reputed A-grade refereed journals, and their citations in the last two years for various B-schools. The topper was IIM Bangalore, which published 155 papers with 138 citations. IIM Calcutta was second, with 125 publications and 85 citations. IIM A faculty published 113 papers that got 69 citations. The publication and citation count drastically drops as we go beyond the top three IIMs, and there is hardly any publication if we go beyond the top 30 B-schools. This mirrors the competence of faculty of an institute and the environment provided to them for their growth. To publish a paper in an A-grade international journal, faculty has to conduct cutting-edge research in their area and create knowledge of a high order. Our analysis shows that publication in reputed journals correlates strongly with industry interface, faculty remuneration, infrastructure and expenditure towards faculty development.

The lack of relevant research will be a major impediment for our B-schools if they have to lead industry, instead of being led by it, as it happens now. This is where the challenge lies. The B-school-industry collaboration should move beyond skilling and placements. Institutes need to create an environment in their campus where faculty is motivated to do research in emerging areas of growth. They need to be more proactive in partnering with premium technical institutes like the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) or the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in identifying new knowledge created, and work on the application part. The entrepreneurial culture in the institutes should be such that more and more business plans are written based on cutting-edge research, especially in the areas of food , water, energy and sustainable development. This will be the real test of leadership, which unfortunately is in crisis in most of our B-schools.

The author is the chief executive of C-fore, a multidisciplinary research organization

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 14-12-2015)


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