There is little doubt that Business Education is big business in the world. It is estimated that a decade ago the global market was worth around USD 22 billion. (Friga, Bettis and Sullivan, 2003). This has been growing at a steady pace of around 12% per annum. According to Pfeffer and Long, (2002) around 900 Universities in the USA offered a Masters degree in Business Administration. The first management education programme in the world started at MIT in 1931. The second was at Harvard in 1943 (Bowonder and Rao 2004).
In India Management Education has been a late entrant and has followed the economic policies laid out by the Government of India in its various 5-year plans. Post-Independence the then Prime Minister of India; Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru believed the country needed Industrialization on a large scale. Consequently there was a great need for Engineers to man these industries. While the Regional Engineering Colleges provided some talent this was not adequate in terms of quality and quantity to meet the country’s growing needs. Consequently it was decided to set up the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT’s) which would provide a higher quality of talent and in larger numbers than were hitherto available. These Institutes have over a period of time churned out a good crop of engineers who have brought laurels to the country, not only in India but also abroad.
Post this phase, with Industrialization having taken reasonable shape, there was a need to have good Managers to man these industries. It is in this context that the Indian Institutes of Management were set up to provide Industry with top-notch managers. This era began in the early sixties and has seen galloping growth over the next few decades. Today it is estimated that there are over 3500 B-Schools in the country.
With the proliferation of B-Schools, there has been a raging debate on the quality of the B-School students emerging. It is believed that in recent times getting a MBA is a requisite qualification for a good job. While earlier a graduate degree in any discipline was considered good. This is no longer true. It has to be laced with a post-graduate degree in Management. Consequently graduate students have adopted a herd mentality and based on pressure from parents, teachers and peers have flocked to the B-Schools in large numbers. At one point of time it was estimated that around 3,50,000 students applied for admissions to the IIM’s alone where the number of seats available were a little over 1000.
One of the unintended consequences of this demand has been the proliferation of B-Schools and the consequent fall in quality of Management Education overall. While the IIM’s along with a handful of the top 50 Institutes have managed to maintain the quality of education, most other B- Shools have compromised on this parameter. Studies have been conducted by The Nanda Committee (1981) The Dr. M.V.Kurien Committee (1991) AICTE Committee (2003) All India Management Association (Rao, 2004) to address some of the issues facing Management Education in India.
Some of the issues identified as needing to be addressed were regarding:
- Implementing Changes in Management Education
- Ensuring Quality Faculty
- Developing material relevant to the Indian Context
- Promoting a Research Culture
- Evolving an Accreditation System
- Corporate Governance for B-Schools
- Student Testing Service
- Developing Interaction with Industry
- Bringing in Specialization
- Broadening the perspective
- Learning the Business Issues
- Inculcating Values
- Creating a Global mindset.
Current Trends in Management Education:
It appears that currently B-Schools seem to be losing their sheen. An Economic Times report (April 2016) which was based on a research carried out estimates that apart from the top 20 B-Schools, merely 10% of the students get hired each year by Corporates. According to the Secretary General of Assocham, an Industry body this has been largely due to the fact that the proliferation of the 2nd tier and 3rd tier management schools has not been matched by a commensurate improvement of quality.
Another significant trend that seems to be emerging in the Indian B-School market is the emergence of domain specific B-Schools. A research done by the authors points to over 30 such domains which offer specialized domain specific Management Education. Some of the more prominent sectors are Agribusiness, Banking and Financial services, Bio-technology,Infrastructure and Construction, Fashion and Designing,Healthcare,Hospitality,Insurance, Logistics, Media and Entertainment, Communication, Petroleum Oil and Gas, Pharmaceuticals, Jewellery,Real Estate, Rural, Telecom and Tourism.
It seems clear therefore that Management Education in India has undergone a sea change over the years and there are several systemic issues that need to be addressed by Management Educationists, Industry professionals and Government with regard to the future directions that B-Schools need to take in order to prepare students for the future.
Prof. Alan D Souza – Founding Member, MICA, Ahmedabad
Prashant Pareek- Faculty, School of Business, Auro University, Surat