19 Feb 2021 22:33 IST

'Protect non-teaching time of faculty:' Prof Raghuram

Talking at MMA panel discussion, experts discuss challenges and opportunities in management education

Management education has developed steadily over the last few decades in India, especially since the early-90s. The number and variety of UG and PG programmes have grown by leaps and bounds along with the institutions offering them. As in engineering education, management education also suffers from an institutional chasm that separates top programmes from mediocre and average, according to Dr L S Ganesh, Professor, Department of Management Studies, IIT Madras.

Speaking at the panel discussion, hosted by Madras Management Association and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Dr Harbir Singh, Professor of Management, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania; Dr G Raghuram, Former Director, IIM Bangalore; along with inputs from L Ramkumar, Former President, MMA, discussed a number of crisis-driven opportunities that make it possible for institutions to reset their strategies, policies, programmes, and practices, in the contemporary setting.

Why management education is still good business

In Prof G Raghuram’s speech interspersed with anecdotes and examples from his long stint at IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, and Gujarat Maritime University, he outlined six reasons why B-schools are still thriving in India.

 

 

Dr G Raghuram, Former Director, IIM Bangalore

 

 

1. India is a growing economy. There is a hunger for professionals who understand the nature of organisations. Management education is all about how to design, create, and manage organisations.

2. There is continuing student interest. It is a cultural attribute in India where people want to go right through and complete education and, on the other hand, there are working professionals who realise the need to understand organisations at a different point in life.

3. Institutions have opened up a lot of specialised programmes, partly to create positioning, and partly to address the needs of different sectors. Along with specialisations, the idea of partnerships is also emerging and entrepreneurship is gaining traction.

4. Even prior to Covid-19, institutions were adopting online and attempting hybrid forms of delivery. But Covid has accelerated the process and this is an opportunity that should be leveraged.

5. Executive education or continuing education, where not necessarily degrees programmes, but depending on the stages in the career and differing needs, short modules are developed to suit the needs of this target group of students.

6. The centrepiece of our ability to execute all of the above with quality is faculty. That is a big challenge.

Mindset change

The panel presented different perspectives on the significant changes needed in mindsets, and consequently the practices, of institutional leaders and faculty members in their initiative and efforts to offering top-quality education to their students. According to Prof Singh from Wharton, B-schools compete in the market for ideas, delivery, and deep understanding of phenomena. “In terms of mindset, schools need to maximise in these three areas. It is important to keep in mind that this is a non-compensatory model,” he said.

 

 

Dr Harbir Singh, Professor of Management, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

 

 

Singh believes an institutional culture must support talent, diversity, and innovation. The hierarchical approach in an educational institution would not allow for the diversity of ideas. The talent has to be given full autonomy including the ability to challenge ideas within the system. B-schools need to make themselves a good destination for faculty on the talent front and try to bring in people with deep knowledge and leverage them in classrooms.

Prof G Raghuram emphasised two major changes desired in institutions today - stakeholder management and faculty ownership.

Stakeholder management

Leaders need to be conscious of the different stakeholders of the institution that they are heading – students, faculty, admin staff, and board members. They should be able to understand their aspirations and take them forward.

Faculty

As a leader, protecting the non-teaching time provided to the faculty is of utmost importance. Leaders sometimes get into the tempting role of dictating terms to faculty. Ownership by faculty of the discipline, or programme, is viewed as an important mantra of how an academic institution should grow. The leader should watch out for what excites different faculty, and create opportunities, and gently nudge them in that direction, behind the scenes. Allow faculty voice while building systems of performance and systems of curricular innovation. Greater ownership by faculty encourages creativity in classrooms. “In fact, a Director’s role is to ‘de-directorise’ the process. You should be watching, but your presence shouldn’t be felt like someone pushing things around. The bottom-up approach is the best way to go forward,” cautioned G Raghuram.