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January - 2016 - issue > Director's Insights

Need of Academic and Corporate Collaboration

Dr. N.R. Parasuraman
Director-SDM Institute for Management Development
Sunday, January 31, 2016
Dr. N.R. Parasuraman
One thing that is generally agreed upon by academics and corporate executives alike is that Management education in India is going through a unique phase. Management Institutes in the country have been doling out programs with varying tenures and intensity. We have the conventional two year full-time program vying with several one year programs, part-time offerings and online courses. In such a scenario only the best of B-schools have the potential to thrive.

On the good side, academics have been changing their minds rapidly as to what would constitute an ideal set of courses and orientation for budding leaders. The conventional "concept-based" array of courses might have given way to courses which are "situation-based" and relevant to the immediate context. So new courses have sprung up which have more to do with development of an overall personality than sharpening a specific acumen. Side by side, course-orientation has also undergone changes. We have the wholly "case-driven" approach and the inclusion of a series of role plays, projects and presentations in courses. The use of websites for class demonstration has become more and more common. Quantitative courses are being increasingly taught with spreadsheet applications.

The above development is welcome in the sense that there is a constant endeavor to align education to specific needs of the industry. However, since there is no unanimity as to the extent of depth required of a Management graduate, or as to the extent of practical things he/she should be already exposed to, one can see wide changes in the course offerings and styles of delivery across Institutes.

Also, this has given rise to the birth of several courses which were considered not quite essential for managerial proficiency. This includes courses for personality development, corporate social responsibility, sustainability, business ethics, and spirituality. Side by side, we have schools giving importance to Entrepreneurship and the ways to develop in this area. Again, we have the whole range of services given right up to incubation and angel financing in some cases. We also have schools which emphasize heavily on ethics and good practices, and have projects running to sensitize students in this direction. The opinion today among some academics and corporate leaders is these go a long way in developing a right frame of mind in the leader to be. Leadership is not just about making decisions that result in profits, but should aim to bring the maximum benefit to all stakeholders. The counter argument to this has been that the overall course takeaway has become diluted because of this.

In my opinion, increasingly we are going to come to a situation by which courses will be fashioned to suit specific needs of recruiting corporate. Since the sector which recruits (as well as the specific company which does so), will be different across B-schools, the course content and styles of delivery will necessarily be different. Thus, an Institute which predominantly caters to the Information Technology sector will have several second-year or specialization courses directed to this expertise. This practice may not be for the ultimate good, because the preparation of the student is just for the first job and not for a whole career.

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