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Home > Business > Special

B-schools must also focus on research

Aresh Shirali in Mumbai | August 10, 2006

Jagdish N Sheth, Charles H Kellstadt professor of marketing, Goizueta Business School, Emory University, thinks business education in India needs significant reform.

Speaking to Business Standard, he outlines his recommendations.

Are you satisfied with business education in India?

India is a special case. The demand for business education, or any higher education, is extraordinary. It is demand-driven, not supply-driven, and the demand cannot be satisfied by elite business schools. It is, in other words, an industry with a capacity problem, and this will not change in the foreseeable future.

Demand will keep rising... even more now from foreign students. In the UK and US, students are now being advised to do their one-year overseas study period in India (English being the spoken language here, assimilation is easier).

It happened earlier in the liberal arts, then in vocational disciplines such as medicine and engineering, and now it will happen in business education.

Is there a good way to tackle supply constrains?

The supply problem can be managed very well by significant reform in policy and regulation, specifically the latter. The overall regulatory framework of the University Grants Commission (UGC) was put in place under the British system.

But the new regulations under the All India Commission for Technical Education (AICTE) do not put out guidelines on the quality of education. This approach is not acceptable.

So quality is a problem as much as quantity...

We have not learnt to blend our social obligations (like medicine, business education, and indeed all education has obligations) with our quality aspirations.

I recommend incentives to increase business education capacity with utmost attention paid to two aspects: one, quality of education, and two, social responsibility.

Are there precedents to learn from? Any examples?

Singapore is doing a very good job of it... it has invited the University of New South Wales, a world-class university, to set up a full-fledged campus there, and it will have as many as 15,000 students -- from all over. Regulation is India is so opaque that even an invited institution would have a harrowing experience.

Any other way that business education in India must change?

Yes. The third element is the most critical. Business education in India is still teaching-driven. Abroad, it is also research-driven. Whether it is state universities like Berkeley and UCLA or private ones like Harvard and Wharton, professors are required to generate new knowledge, not just disseminate existing knowledge.

Now, I do see some positive signs at IIM-Ahmedabad, even Bangalore, where professors have a mandate to publish work in management journals (the Financial Times and BusinessWeek carry ratings of these journals). Engineering and medicine operates on contractual research... it's all publishable, not consulting projects. But at B-schools, no system is in place.

What compounds the problem is that the compensation of B-school professors is not good enough, so they do add-on consulting work, which leaves very little time for research.

Can we do something about it?

Research should be a mandatory requirement. Appraisals should be based on research as much as classroom performance.

In the US, if you want to remain a full professor, you must publish. I am evaluated by my university on my research work, and it drives me to publish.

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