On Business Education in India
India, however, may be reaching a threshold of an Enterprise Revolution. The entrepreneurial energies of Indian youth was quite visible over the last two decades, and now the Government is, belatedly as governments do, attempting to create the basic legal and financial infrastructure for the same. The banking system is expanding, there is talk of tax relief for investment in small businesses, a bankruptcy system is being discussed and the policy directed to easy and cheap credit. The only missing thing is people, as it is always in India, and this should shape the agenda for B-Schools, or at least those among them who are capable of thinking, to get their act together.
Any such reinvention of the business schools perhaps need to attend to four key priorities
First, the focus must shift from prestige to pedagogy and outcome, from blindly following what there is - and acknowledge that it is failing - and try to re-imagine the student value proposition.
Second, the two unaddressed elephants in the room, Globalisation and Automation, need to be addressed. So far, globalisation is confined to one corner of International Management and Technology sparsely went beyond Google and Powerpoint. A serious look at how these two forces are changing business - and indeed, Indian businesses - and preparing students for a seriously disruptive future needs to come to the core of B-School proposition.
Third, one needs to acknowledge the days of formulaic Business Education - learning theory and doing calculations - is over. The more uncertain the world becomes, the art of business, rather than the science of it, takes the centre-stage. As one of the leading Education Innovators who I follow closely argues all the time, an art should be taught as all arts are taught - in the studio, by doing the stuff. The whole business school curriculum should be predisposed to doing, rather than sitting passively in the classroom.
Fourth, as one of my correspondents from India pointed out, such education should have dual focus on competence and character. Not just the competencies B-Schools develop are often outdated, they completely miss the point about character. And, this is not about a paper on Business Ethics, but rather a grounding of Business Education with ideas about self, social engagement and citizenship commitments. These are not soft subjects to be ignored, but real differentiators a new generation B-School can offer.
That, in short, my take on Indian Business Education. I remain passionately interested, and therefore, often disappointed about the state of thinking in the sector. Innovation usually happens on the fringe, and it is the state of the fringe players, their lack of thinking and sometimes, plain deviousness, that is the most worrying. I remain interested to connect with anyone who are thinking seriously about Business Education - this post is perhaps just one attempt to start that conversation.