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BW Businessworld

Top Institutions In India In The League Of Best B-schools globally: G. Raghuram, Director, IIMB

. He tells BW Businessworld that some “liberal research funding” from the government could help spruce up the quality of education offered by the rest.

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The  Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIMB) ranks among the Ivy League business schools and Director G. Raghuram is of the opinion that notwithstanding what their global rankings may be, top-rung business schools in India could compete with the best in the world. He tells BW Businessworld that some “liberal research funding” from the government could help spruce up the quality of education offered by the rest. 


How do you see the postgraduate management education ecosystem in the country today?The postgraduate management education ecosystem ranges from excellent to poor. With about 4,000 management schools, probably only about 20 per cent (say 800) may be doing a reasonable job of a curriculum. Among these, maybe a quarter would actually be creating professionals who can actually take on management roles.

Are we creating enough potential leaders or simply creating job seekers in this market?
I would say that in the top 200 schools, the programmes would be imbibing them with potential leadership qualities. However, given the job opportunities, many would-be job seekers initially, like right after their programme. In the longer run, given the opportunities and emphasis on entrepreneurship, an increasing percentage would become job creators. This actually may be a good thing, wherein they become job creators after some experience.

Even after all these reforms, why has the Indian B-schools failed to compete with the world’s best schools?
I believe that the top management schools in India, in terms of identifying talent and transforming them, would be in the league of the best B-schools globally. However, in terms of ranking, we are still to make it to the top primarily because of insufficient publications in top-rated academic journals and not having international representation among students and faculty.

Why do we fail to regularly update and overhaul the curriculum in keeping with industry needs?
I don’t really view this as a significant issue. The essence of management education is more about shaping the mind rather than providing knowledge through a curriculum. This then depends more on ‘how’ the curriculum is delivered than ‘what’. Having said that, I do see schools address current issues, including preparedness for the digital world, entrepreneurial mindset, etc.

How do we make sure that the faculty is equally at home in theory as in practice?
One of the most important responsibilities of the administrative leadership of management schools is to protect the non-teaching time of faculty. This will enable them to not only polish their rigour by writing and publishing but also focus on what is happening in the real world both by reading and engaging with practice. Overseeing projects (rooted in the industry) in courses, including internships, would help. 

Technology is evolving so fast that it’s difficult to predict what happens one year down the line. How do B-schools prepare for such scenarios?
It is fashionable to often characterise the world as VUCA – Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous due to the technological evolution. I would not worry about hype change per se.  However, I believe it is more important to keep our antennae up and build agility in responding to any aspect of the environment as it changes. In fact, as a bard said, it’s important for us to have a Vision, Understanding, Clarity and Agility. These can be developed by engaging the class and challenging them in critical thinking across various courses. 

In India, the IIMs, and a few other top B-schools are progressing well, but the rest churn out graduates who are hardly employable. What’s the way out?

I would believe a large number of schools at the bottom end of the spectrum would need to close unless the leadership invests in their faculty as mentioned earlier in this interview.

How often do you inspire your alumni to come back and teach at their alma mater? Do you inspire them to contribute funds to their alma mater?
Alumni come back to our school to contribute as guest faculty in courses and as adjunct faculty for full courses. Some of them have even come back to make a career as our faculty. While a significant share of our guest sessions is handled by our alumni, the share of alumni who get an opportunity would be relatively small, given our large alumni base. Alumni also contribute as mentors to our incubation centre. They also come to inspire our students in the Induction programme. 

Our attempt is to inspire them continually to contribute funds to their alma mater. We have recently created the position of Dean Alumni Relations and Development to engage more continuously with the alumni.

What more do you expect from the regulator AICTE and the government?
While some schools are financially independent enough to be able to provide for research and the doctoral programme, many B-schools stretch their teaching and teaching intensity of the faculty just to stay afloat financially. It would help if the government could encourage such schools to seek liberal research funding which the government should provide.

How has the role of the B-school director evolved and how crucial is it in taking B-schools into the league of leading global institutions?
The role of a B-school director would be different, depending on the level of maturity and financial independence that a school has. Given that my experience of academic administration is only from two mature B-schools, I would say that the role of the director in these schools has evolved to being a leader who leads from the rear. It is important for the leader to sense the motivations and energy of the faculty, crystalise them into initiatives, and support the same through whatever facilitation is feasible.

As a country that needs to develop and make an impact on a global environment, it is important to make B-schools leading global institutions. Naturally then, it is important for the director to focus on this, looking for opportunities to learn from global practices, increase global visibility, and drive performance towards global excellence. The very vision of IIM Bangalore reflects this: To be a globally renowned academic institution fostering excellence in management, innovation and entrepreneurship for business, government and society.   

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