The recent Satyam episode has rekindled interest in media, industry, academia and society about the content, scope and relevance of management education. India, given its cultural, economic and social diversity has not adequately articulated the relevance of management education in these contexts. Management education in India is predominately a derivative of western management thought and practice. Occasionally, management schools draw some inferences from Indian epics, shastras and practices. It may be worthwhile to notice that management itself as a discipline has evolved from fundamental disciplines of philosophy, psychology, economics, accounting, computer science, mathematics, statistics and industrial engineering.
The core objective of western management education is to evolve a system which would be useful to enterprises, industry and hence society thereby creating a symbiotic relationship with stakeholders of wealth creation process. This symbiotic relationship between the industry and the education system has lead to a very healthy exchange of knowledge creation and sharing and also a funding support system. Inadvertently, this arrangement has evolved to a situation where the funding agencies (rightly or otherwise) are able to influence the direction, content and scope of management education.
Western corporate world is obsessed with operational efficiency and not necessarily effectiveness. This has brought tremendous desire and motivation to top management of organizations to focus on performance (quarter to quarter, year to year) rather than organizational purpose. This unintended transformation is possibly the root cause of the morality crisis, governance issues, irresponsible behaviour of corporate citizens in the overall global context.
In India, management education is seen as elitist. Often, young men and women are attracted to management education not because they need some education, exposure and experience to create something wonderful, and hence useful to society but are usually motivated by the positive economic consequences (nothing wrong about this) associated with management education.
In my long teaching career of 30 years, I have seen a miniscule percentage of young men and women who would like to use their management education to translate their dream (if they had one) into an organization and hence transform a sub-section of the society. The restricted number of seats in elite management institutions and hence the demand-supply gap has only contributed to this hype and vicious cycle.
Thanks to several socio-economic factors, teaching job is the least preferred job in India. It is also an easiest one to get (often it is a second career option, wonderful part time livelihood). In the western world competency is a pre-requisite to become a tenured faculty in a decent university. Often low salary of the teaching profession is cited as the main reason for not being able to attract the brightest minds. Barring some exceptions many institutions are not able to attract superior talent. Over a period of time our management educational system has degenerated into information sharing. Often the teacher is two hours ahead of the taught on the subject matter. Of course, large number of skills, concepts, frameworks are passed on routinely in the classroom without any meaningful insight.
An individual who has been educated in a reputed management school should be oriented towards accomplishment of the tasks given to him. Such accomplishments in the early stage of the chosen profession would create a sense of ego, which would eventually change into pride and joy of doing work. Such accomplished individuals would gain greater visibility, evolve as a brand and eventually reach an iconic status.
While this may be extremely satisfying to an individual, the same individuals contribution to the society can be much more enhanced if they are groomed with issues relevant to personality development and leadership, character building, purpose in life, dignity, self respect and respect for others, compassion and spirituality.
The modern management education in India emphasizes on performance and very little on purpose. It equips the young men and women to generate wealth and does not provide them the capacity to enjoy and share this wealth. It projects the use of the information technology as an enabler to improve efficiency but not as a supporting tool in resolving large complex social issues. It motivates individuals to accomplish their objectives with or without regard to means. As a rule, management education has completely detached itself from the under managed sectors.
Unfortunately, the management education in India has never connected to the fundamental disciplines from which it has evolved and has become narrow in its content. A handful of management institutions in this country are trying to realign the management education by using a multi dimensional approach. The first dimension of this would focus on the individuals. The second dimension (of this education) would focus on the standard tools and techniques of management education. The third dimension would connect the individual to the society by compassion, entrepreneurship and social sensitivity.
We hope such institutions not only succeed in their objective, but are also able to influence other management institutions to move in this direction to contribute to the society by a contextually relevant management education. We only hope under such scenario the Satyam like episodes will become rare.
The author is director, Indian Institute of Management Indore. The views expressed are personal.
This is the first of a 5 part series on how education for a business, legal, chartered & cost and works accounting, and company secretary career can be more application focused to avoid debacles such as Satyam and Lehman Brothers.
Source : Written by N .Ravichandran