MBAs to take lessons from Anna and Kolaveri Di
The Indian Institutes of Management and Symbiosis Institute of Business Management, Pune are using Anna Hazare and actor Dhanush's popular song Kolaveri Di as case studies to teach management to students.
Last year was dominated with Team Anna's slogans and Dhanush's Kolaveri Di on Youtube.
Catching in on the waves, many Indian b-schools introduced the study of both these newsmakers in their MBA classrooms as formal case studies or informal sessions with the stated intent of making students understand why these sensations had gripped the country's imagination.
At the Symbiosis Institute of Business Management (SIBM), Pune, director Dr Vivek Sane along with faculty members Dr Kaushik Mukerjee and Rajesh Panda prepared a case study on Anna Hazare's movement relating it to satyagraha and its relevance for business managers.
"We want our students to understand and analyse the leadership skills that Anna Hazare demonstrated to the nation. It is interesting that a man from a village understood the pulse of the nation while most politicians and corporates did not," Dr Vivek Sane told.
"I have asked the marketing students to explore the Kolaveri Di case study too in order to understand the dynamics of viral marketing which led the song to have more than a million views on Youtube," he added.
The case studies illustrate leadership, conflict management and viral marketing
The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) too joined the bandwagon. They have not formally incorporated a case study, but classrooms and student clubs on campus have discussed the Jan Lokpal bill, Team Anna and the Kolaveri song at length.
"Anna and Jan Lokpal Bill was studied and discussed in our public policy club on campus," said Divya Suresh, student of IIM Ahmedabad.
Prof Devanath Tirupati of IIM Bangalore confirmed that not only had Anna Hazare visited the campus to interact with IIM-B students, the theme had been discussed informally by the faculty in classrooms.
"However, there is no formal incorporation of the same in the course or a project on our campus which I am aware of," he added.
Sria Majumdar, a member of IIM Shillong's student's council said, "When Anna Hazare was on an indefinite fast, there was a debate organised on our campus. The proposition and opposition teams were moderated by a professor. Also, our in-house team had written and published an article on the takeaways from the Kolaveri song for marketing students in our monthly marketing magazine Markathon."
Similar classroom sessions have taken place at the SIES College of Management Studies (SIESCOMS), Navi Mumbai, NL Dalmia Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai and the SP Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR), Mumbai to illustrate leadership, conflict management and viral marketing.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
'Making Kolaveri Di part of the curriculum or a subject would be stretching it too far'
"There is a lot to learn from both Anna Hazare and the Kolaveri song obsession which gripped the nation last year. Teamwork is the most important element of effective leadership, something that Anna Hazare has highlighted. He is known today because he acknowledged team members like Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi, etc. Also a team leader should be one whom people can identify with. He should be one who can lead a team despite being a member of it," said Sria
As for the Kolaveri Di song, she said, "Marketing alone cannot lead to a successful product. Launching it in an innovative way to make it stand out from regular releases is equally important. The Kolaveri song was first made public on Youtube before it was officially released which is why it bagged a million hits. Its mysterious release and wacky lyrics made it go viral on the Internet."
Prof Shravan Rungta, Associate Professor at NL Dalmia said, "Although Anna Hazare is discussed in our classrooms with reference to lessons in leadership, conflict management and communication, we are not building a case study around it just because it's a fashionable thing to do."
According to him Kolaveri Di also did not merit a case study. "Although it does have potential to be taken up in class as a contextual phenomenon, making it part of the curriculum or a subject would be stretching it too far," he added.
Rungta was of the belief that case studies had to have solid data, research and theoretical orientation for them to qualify as tools of learning and decision making. He also believed that all too often management institutes had been picking events, movies and individuals from news and society to retro-fit them into management education.
"It is a fad adopted for PR mileage and is certainly not worthy in serious academic realm," added Rungta.
Image: Composer Anirudh Ravichander (left) and Dhanush, who sang the song Kolaveri Di
Photographs: Rediff Archives