Are we commoditising the MBA degree?
The popularity of management education has turned it into a big business in India. Business schools have been mushrooming all over the country during the last few years. This phenomenon has started affecting the quality of business schools and diluting the standards of management education, leading to commoditization of the MBA degree. The value of the MBA degree seems to have eroded and most management graduates from tier II and below business schools are considered unemployable by the corporates. This paper traces the deteriorisation of the management education programmes in India and suggests some major remedial measures to improve the standards and value.
…………………………………………………………………… “MBA programmes do not train managers. They only make one believe they do. They teach management rhetoric and cause students to believe they are able to control situations and solve complex problems overnight.” - Henry Mintzberg
Management education has of late become one of the fastest growing industries all over the globe, and especially so in India. The manner in which business schools have been proliferating in all metros and tier II cities in our country during the last couple of decades goes to prove that business education, as a commercial proposition, has become big business. Being a lucrative business, politicians, real estate magnates and charitable trusts have been vying with each other to jump into the business school band-wagon. For many, this was an ideal business with minimum investment, zero risk and assured high returns from the start. But alas, as is the case of every business, the boom period appears to have come to an abrupt end today, as is evident from the unfilled seats for MBA programmes in several institutes during the current academic year. There are a few business schools in Bangalore today, that failed to fill the seats this year beyond 5 to 15, against their sanctioned intake of 60seats! Others with 120 sanctioned intakes could barely fill 55 to 60 seats. This scenario throws up some indubitable questions. Has the MBA bubble burst? Has there been an overkill? Has the goose that lays golden eggs been inadvertedly killed? Has our MBA programmes lost their charm? Has the MBA’s value eroded? Or, is it because of commoditising the MBA degree and overt indulgence in mass production of business graduates? The time has come to take a hard look at the business education endeavours of the several newcomers as well as a few of the old timers in this arena. Such an introspection might throw up some ugly facts which will have to be rationally analysed to take stock of the situation and understand where we are, and think strategically as to what we should do to revamp the MBA programmes. The historic perspective
Though the first full-fledged management education programme started between 1930’s and 1940’s in Harvard, USA, its beginning in India was in the 1950’s , with the start of the Indian Institutes of Management and XLRI. A basic form of business education programme also started in separate departments of the Universities of Bombay, Delhi, Calcutta and Madras around the same time. The full fledged business schools in the early stages were the IIM C and IIM A, in 1964 -65, followed by IIM B and others at Lucknow, Indore and Kozhikode. These institutes set very high academic standards and attracted the best and the brightest students as well as teachers in the country. This also made them quintessentially attractive to companies as recruiting grounds of the emerging class of new managers. The IIM brand name evolved and gained brand equity in the job market. Management became a buzz word (like engineering for decades) and business education was expected to guarantee a lifetime in comfortable and well-placed jobs in India and abroad. That is why the brightest young students from all disciplines...
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