Those who can't, teach - says The Economist (See the story). The business schools indeed don't like the disruptive innovation business. Despite the impressive sway they hold particularly in the emerging countries, they are eager to hold on to the fragile foundational logic that MBA is necessary to lead a business, despite mounting evidence on the contrary. So, anything, like the company-run Mini-MBAs, that undermine the value of the business school business, is shunned. This is, however, head in the sand behaviour than anything strategic.
The Economist sees the business schools suffering from two problems. One is about becoming too academic, with professors more obsessed with publication and academic prestige than teaching. This is a standard criticism of academic practice today, one that is easily countered. Teaching without research and practice is hardly the thing to do in a discipline like business. The Economist indeed concerned itself with the top-flight B-Schools, but if they cared to look around a bit, they would see the Mid- to Low-Tier schools stuck in the Eighties, where Professors more concerned with teaching stick to the syllabus and have little outside engagement. With horrifying result, as expected!
The second problem is the herd mentality, and this is understandable. The world of B-Schools is a rather small one, and even the global community of B-Schools work closer than the broader Higher Ed community. They subscribe to somewhat common values and ideas, they are all threatened by the dwindling perception of the MBAs, they are all looking at the same rankings and their students suffer from the same sense of entitlement everywhere. So, it is a more difficult environment to break the ranks than even the ossified enclosures of the traditional universities.
But there are more problems than these two, I shall contend. The first is that Business School is one segment of Higher Education which has designed itself, irreversibly, for the select few, putting emphasis on social capital over anything else. In short, the B-Schools are designed to be entitlement factories, built around giving their students a sense of being special. This causes a problem when the businesses that employ them, particularly banks, are facing some existential problems and have woken up, belatedly, reluctantly and only partially, to the need of humility and flexibility. The discipline of the B-Schools are designed to exclude such abilities, almost treating them as weaknesses.
More, being fixated on being masters of the universe, the Business Schools often produce graduates who would love to keep the world as is, rather than create tomorrow's businesses. I am arguing that not only business schools have a herd mentality, at its core, they are often anti-entrepreneurial. This is having devastating effect on those economies which rely too much on B-Schools to produce their decision makers: The B-School graduates running Venture Capital firms turn them into Mini-Banks, B-School graduates running Government Departments forget the citizenry and the essential purpose of their jobs. No wonder entrepreneurial businesses have come to distrust the B-Schools and would rather do with Engineers and other oddballs.
And, finally, as a result of all this, value of an MBA is seriously being questioned. One could sense some desperation in Rakesh Khuarana's argument that Business should be treated as a profession and MBA should become a license to get into business. B-Schools would surely love that, but one can see how this would easily kill off an economy: Imagine telling Steve Jobs (among others) that he needs to get an MBA to start Apple. While Professor Khuarana is a brilliant academic, this suggestion also reflects the existential dysfunction at the heart of B-Schools: They don't seem to know how to adjust to the post-industrial Business landscape of today.
Indeed, all this criticism looks phony because a B-School degree is still the surest way to become the Master of the Universe. Despite the beating they have taken off late, the Bankers remain movers and shakers, making the national governments bow down to themselves with the doctrine of too big to fail. Indeed, all else is theoretical and it is best to recognise, with intended irony, that the criticism of B-Schools is merely academic. At least the few at the top remains, as they intend to be, factories of power and prestige, and it is unlikely to change. Unless, of course, the whole economic edifice becomes unsustainable.
The problem is that this may indeed be the case. The aspirations of the emerging countries are the monsters of Frankenstein of the modern world economy: We need those consumers but we need to limit their aspiration. As the search for good life becomes irreversible, it will become incompatible with the mechanics of power and prestige that our societies run on. Add to that the pressures of environment, and the disenfranchisement that smarter machines will bring to our own working classes, and one should get the urgency with which we need to look at new formulas of running our affairs. But, for any innovation of the kind, which needs flexibility, new thinking, innovation, compassion, our education system needs to be redesigned first, and as argued here, such an attempt would necessarily need to start at changing our B-Schools.
Popular posts from this blog
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the quote below: "I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation." The email requested me to forward me to every indian I know. I was tempted, but there were two oddities about this quote. First, the language, which
Introduction : The Business of Gift Giving Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are usually seen as an ‘advertising, sales promotion and marketing communication medium’ (Cooper et al , 1991). Arunthanes et al (1994) points out that such gifting is practised usually for three reasons: (a) in appreciation for past client relationships, placing a new order, referrals to other clients, etc.; (b) in the hopes of creating a positive, first impression which might help to establish an initial business relationship; and (c) giving may be perceived as a quid Pro quo (i.e. returning a favour or expecting a favour in return for something). The practitioners of gift-giving generally argue that doing business is often an aggregation of personal interactions and relationships, and gift-giving should be seen as a natural way of maintaining and enhancing these relationships. ‘Business gifts, especially one given in the course of the festive s
Buzzwords have disadvantages. Right now, experiential learning is one, and that means we put the label on everything and it stops to mean anything. Also, this means reasonable conversation about experiential learning becomes difficult - at times such as this, either you preach experiential learning or you are traditional, antiquarian and hopelessly out of touch. But, overlooking the limitations of experiential learning can cause big problems. Experiential Learning does many things - putting practice at the heart of learning is an important paradigm shift - but not everything, and it is important to be aware what it does not do. Usually, we equate the terms Project-based Learning (the method) with Experiential Learning (the idea) and Learning from Experience (the ideal), treating them as one and the same and using the terms interchangeably. Any talk about distinctive meaning of these terms is usually seen as pedantic, but really represent very different ideas about education.
Today, Helen Goddard, 26, a highly popular music teacher of a City School for Girls, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison. Her crime was to carry out a year long lesbian affair with one of her pupils, who appeared in the court and admitted that the affair was consensual and it was she who pressured Helen into the affair. For Helen, a bright musician and a devout Chistian, this is an extraordinary lapse of judgement. Also, she was teaching in the £13,000 private girls only school in London. She was surely aware what the consequences of her action will be. The fact that she still could not stop herself tells us that lovers do not always act rationally, something we always knew. There is more in this affair than personal tragedies. For a start, this has all the dramatic elements: a bright, beautiful teacher more in Julia Roberts mould [as in Mona Lisa Smile], a stiff upper lip school [not unlike Wellesley] and a story like Notes On A Scandal with an added twist. Indeed, Helen
In most societies today, making profits are accepted as moral, if not especially praiseworthy. This was not as obvious as it appears today – people used to be embarrassed about making a profit not so long ago. Crazy as it seems today, it is worth thinking why it was so. Profits, as economists will put it, is the reward for risk-taking, for putting a business enterprise together in the pursuit of an objective. In this definition, remember, profits are not what it is commonly understood to be – the gross middle-line towards the bottom – but a figure net of entrepreneur’s earning [wages for his labour], dividends and interests on borrowed capital, and provisions for building and other physical assets [a sort of rent, offsetting what these assets could have earned if leased out]. This pure profit – surplus – accrues to a business as a reward to its organisation, for the act of entrepreneurship itself. Economists were divided on how this surplus comes about. The conventional wisdom was,
Introduction Erna Petri née Kürbs, a farmer’s daughter from Herressen in Thuringia, arrived in Ukraine with her three year old son to join her husband Horst in June 1942. Horst, an SS leader inspired by Nazi ideologue Dr Richard Walter Darré, settled in the plantation of Grzenda, just outside today’s Lviv, to become a German Gentleman-Farmer. Erna saw Horst beating and abusing the workers in the plantation within two days of arriving there, which was, as Horst explained, necessary for establishing authority. Erna joined in enthusiastically, settling into a combination of roles of ‘plantation mistress, prairie Madonna in apron-covered dress lording over slave labourers, infant-carrying, gun-wielding Hausfrau.’  However, there were clear rules in the plantation, and Erna was very much expected to play the woman’s role of being a Cake-and-Coffee hostess. When four Jews were caught in the estate while trying to escape from a transport to a death camp, Horst told Erna and her female
Introduction: Hastings in the history of Indian Education Whether or not one includes Warren Hastings in the history of Education in India is a matter of perspective. If writing the history of education means writing the history of schools, the impact of Hastings' administration would be quite limited. If anything, the rapid implosion of local rulers in Eastern, Southern and Northern India during Hastings' tenure had meant a bleak period for the indigenous education system, as patronage and funds would have dwindled away for many of them. The Company administration really concerned itself with the schooling of the natives only after 1813, as Nurullah and Naik rightly pointed out ( see my earlier post ) and one can legitimately start the story at this point. However, if history of Education in India is to encompass the transformation of Indian Scholarship, on which foundation the new, colonial, system of Education would be built, the story must start with Warren Hast
I wrote a note on Kolkata, the city I come from and would always belong to, in July 2010. Since then, the post attracted many visitors and comments, mostly critical, as most people, including those from Kolkata, couldn't see any future for the city. My current effort, some 18 months down the line, is also prompted by a recent article in The Economist, The City That Got Left Behind , which echo the pessimism somewhat. I, at least emotionally, disagree to all the pessimism: After all Kolkata is home and I live in the hope of an eventual return. Indeed, some change has happened since I wrote my earlier post: The geriatric Leftist government that ruled the state for more than 30 years was summarily dispatched, and was replaced by a lumpen-capitalist populist government. Kolkata looked without a future with the clueless leftists at the helm; it now looks without hope. However, apart from bad governance, there is no reason why Kolkata had to be poor and hopeless. It sits right
There is no other city like Kolkata for me: It is Home. The only city where I don't have to find a reason to go to, or to love. It is one city hardwired into my identity, and despite being away for a decade, that refuses to go away. People stay away from their homeland for a variety of reasons. But, as I have come to feel, no one can be completely happy to be away. One may find fame or fortune, love and learning, in another land, but they always live an incomplete life. They bring home broken bits of their homeland into their awkward daily existence, a cushion somewhere, a broken conversation in mother tongue some other time, always rediscovering the land they left behind for that brief moment of wanting to be themselves. The cruelest punishment, therefore, for a man who lives abroad is when his love for his land is denied. It is indeed often denied, because the pursuit of work, knowledge or love seemed to have gotten priority over the attraction of the land. This is particularly
The ‘Why’ Question? Adolf Hitler was appointed the German Chancellor by President Von Hindenburg on 30th January 1933. This was an extraordinary turn of events. Previously, President Von Hindenburg consistently refused to appoint Hitler the Chancellor, despite the impressive electoral performance of NSDAP in July 1932, Hitler’s uncompromising demand of the Chancellor’s post and a repeat election in November 1932 which failed to break the deadlock. Explaining his refusal, Hindenburg wrote in a letter on 24th November, “a presidential cabinet led by you would develop necessarily into a party dictatorship with all its consequences for an extraordinary accentuation of the conflicts in the German people.” The question ‘why’ Hitler was appointed Chancellor, despite the President being acutely aware of what might follow, is therefore a significant one. The NSDAP had election successes throughout 1932, and was already the biggest single party in the Reichstag and various Landtags acros
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.