If one has to put a specific date to the start of this decline, September 15, 2008, the day Lehman Brothers was bankrupted, would have a very good claim. But, unlike that in December 2010, the human nature did not really change on that date. In fact, if anything, much of the world outside the Financial Centres and policy-making chambers sleepwalked down the same road for a while, not least buoyed by interventionist monetary policies that kept the Financial markets on life-support. Developing countries kept their blindfold even longer - for them, it was a nineteenth century habit of accepting the global division of labour unquestioningly - and only just catching up to the reality that the business has changed. Business is not business as usual any longer, and the business schools are now a fraction of their former glory. Many Business Schools now struggle to fill their seats, and even the top ones, which remain many times oversubscribed, have seen their overall application numbers drop, significantly in some cases. And, while the North American and European schools have more or less maintained full capacity, that was more due to the surge of Chinese and Indian students, which is now abetting, rather than growth of their traditional, home, markets. As the disillusionment with the business schools reach the 'emerging' nations, they may be facing a decline and the prospect of returning to where they came from - university management studies departments!
The question to ask is whether this is a temporary drop, more related to business cycles, or a permanent decline, that business schools would fade away and be replaced by something else. Most people would think it is the former - clearly the B-Schools started falling out of favour as the plentiful jobs in banking started drying up - and it is a matter of time that businesses recover and jobs come roaring back again. That businesses have actually done fairly well in this era of loose money, and stock markets globally are at a record high at this very moment (which signifies a confidence, perhaps irrational, that the businesses would continue to do very well), contradicts this theory. One should acknowledge something else is going on - in terms of how businesses operate, what they do and how they see their future - that would affect the future of the B-Schools.
It is perhaps more logical to say that while the businesses (and the banks) have been doing well lately, they are not doing things the same way anymore. There are a number of structural changes that have taken place, some related to regulation, some related to technology, but more significantly, many related to outlook and ways of thinking. This is more or less a permanent shift, requiring a permanent shift in what these businesses expect out of an employee: A permanent shift in the fortune of the business schools.
Consider the word - Hackathon - which is the favourite new recruitment technique for a range of businesses. The idea spread from investors running day-long recruitment camps for prospective start-ups to large companies recruiting people, and now everyone wants to do it. Even the most elitist of the companies, like old-world firms such as IBM and the Management Consultancies, can't fully deny its charm. But hackathon as a recruitment method is disastrous for the B-Schools, and by extension, for universities, as suddenly, their degree-holders, who thrived on the signalling value of the piece of paper they had, have to compete on the same plain with everyone else. It has not come to pass yet, as hackathons are new and as yet, they have not impacted the student choices. But they would: Once a student knows that she can participate in an IBM hackathon, show ability and get a job, without having to go through $100,000 a year business education, she would take the online alternatives and pursue her path. Then, the B-School intakes will reverse: Only those who don't think they can't do it themselves, and have to get an expensive degree, will come to B -Schools. There is already signs of this happening in the Developed countries; it is only a matter of time that this trend reaches the nest-egg of developing country students.
And, yes, hackathon is just one of the many signs of change. Localisation is another. The boom in Business School business was deeply linked with globalisation, but that is now reversing. The politics of it is visible, and intensely debated; but the technological reasons of it are steadily advancing, and there is nothing to challenge that. If the global supply chain shrinks, China loses out because it can't make iphones for US customers cheaply; but this means the end of global commerce as well, and the era of free money. While iPhone going back to the US factories to be made is a good thing; but the Western prosperity that came on the back of the cheap money flowing in from developing countries (that allowed Western Central Banks to keep interest rates very very low for a very very long time) would be over at the same time. In this transformed world, Business managers would require street smarts and understanding of real business rather than global networks and financial acumen (and the irritating habit of speaking in three letter acronyms) that B-Schools give them.
So, I argue, we are in the twilight of B-Schools. May be it's time to paraphrase Thomas Watson: The world may at best need about five great B-Schools. The rest - and the ecosystem of textbook publishers, test prep companies, accreditation agencies, appearance coaches - are now marked for the 'closing down' sale. While they may not disappear overnight and may struggle on to keep innovation out and their hold entrenched, they are in a losing battle. We may be at a point of long term economic inflection, and B-Schools are only a very insigficant casualty of the great change that is ahead of us.
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,
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
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
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
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
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.