Faculty Crunch in B-Schools – Part II

29 05 2008

Industry-Academia interface has often been prescribed as a panacea for improving the quality of faculty in B-Schools. In this post, I’ll try to examine this interface from the industry perspective.

 

The industry views the academia primarily as a supplier of high-quality trained people at the entry level. When jobs were few and the scale of recruitments was small, industry did not feel the need to build any relationship with the academia. Those days, just an advertisement in the newspaper would have sufficed.

 

As companies started scaling up their recruitment, they realized that campus recruitment is a very effective mode of hiring freshers in large numbers.  When companies started competing for talent, they discovered the need for building relationship with the academia.

 

When I was with an IT Services company, for a brief period, I was given the additional responsibility of being the Academic Liaison Manager. My brief was limited to interacting with  Placement Coordinators of B – Schools, projecting my employer as a model employer and trying to get Day One slot during the campus placements.

 

Another level of industry-academia interaction is sponsoring research. In a small way, Indian companies have started setting up excellence centers and giving research projects to academic institutions. This trend is stronger in IITs than in B-Schools.

 

There a few companies who create chair positions in the various B-Schools, with the objective of using the services of the Chair Professors to do research on problems areas identified by the sponsoring company.

 

Ideally, research should help the academia gain real world insights by solving real world problems. The industry on the other hand can benefit by receiving knowledge created at the frontiers of academic research.

 

On the ground, it is a different situation altogether. Industry treats sponsored research with indifference.  The research areas chosen are often far removed from the real problems of the company. The solutions are rarely implemented. The expenditure incurred on research is treated as image-building exercise or at best, philanthropy.  

 

Using B-School faculty for consulting assignments is also an area where the industry and the academia come together. Often insignificant consulting projects using cheap manpower available with B-Schools are dumped on Indian B-Schools whereas critical assignments go to either multinational management consulting firms or B-School professors from Ivy League US Business Schools. It shows the cavalier attitude of the Indian industry towards Indian B-Schools. 

 

In recent times, the industry has started viewing the academia as a distributor of certificates.  IT/ITES companies facing high attrition have woken up to the potential of the academia to design tailor-made courses that can both improve the capabilities of their workforce and reduce attrition. Accenture has tied up with ISB for a 3- year course on Software Delivery Management. ICICI Prudential has tied up with 21 B-Schools to conduct a 1-year program on insurance. Wipro BPO is offering part-time MBA to many of its employees by tying up with universities.  

 

While the engagement is expanding, the quality of the interface between the industry and the academia leaves much to be desired. Instead of blaming B-Schools’ quality of teaching, the industry would do well to come down from its high-pedestal and help B-schools connect with the real world of business.

 

The industry can take the following  five steps without any more delay to show that they really care about the quality of management education:

 

1) Sponsor more chairs in B-Schools. This will enable  B-Schools to hire top class talents by paying them handsomely. Sponsors must have a say in deciding the quality and the remuneration of the Chair Professors.

 

2) Plan research requirements in tandem with B-Schools on a long term basis. Establish mechanisms to monitor progress. Top management’s involvement in budget allocation and periodic stock taking are not to be glossed over.

 

3) Offer exchange programs to the academia whereby selected faculty members will work in companies for a certain period of time while their counterparts in these companies will take up classes in those B-Schools.

 

4) Participate in designing new courses and developing course contents to make B-School curriculum more relevant to the real world.

 

5) Help B-School researchers and teachers develop world class case studies reflecting the Indian business realities.

 

– G. Mohan.

 

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One response

2 06 2008
C sarkar

It is an quite an interesting article. I like to include a few observations from my real life experience in industry-academic interface. After a quarter century of professional experience in industry, I took one year off last year to get a first hand understanding of the academic world and joined an IIT as a management faculty for a year. During the same time, I also had an opportunity teaching a management subject to MBA students in a new management school in Gandhinagar. My experinece of one year can only be summarisized as follows:

1) Like any other sector, 80-20 rule prevail in the academic sector. 20% teaching faculties create the brand name for the Institute and 80% take an advantage of the brand for their own benefits. I was astinished to see, even in an IIT like infrastructure, how can a professor afford to keep 15 research scholars under himself with an average of 5 hours of time allocated to individual scholar per year.

2) In the name of consulting, how senior professors misuse the name of IIT just to make money. The quality of report stands nowhere when compared with the corresponding benchmark. They know their pitfalls very well and accept the bad review comment of the sponsoring organization.

Then the question is: Why should academia trail behind others in this money making ratrace? When they see their students making big fortune from software jobs, they want to enjoy their share from the pie. Teaching has also started following cricketing world. Be short and crisp, make more money with least effort. Package the game with other form of entertainment. When customers are ready to pay any amount demanded, why shouldn’t they take it?

There are lapses everywhere..why to blame academia? They have learnt lessons from the corporate world and specially after software services company had started paying so much money to the starters. Whole academic world have been spoilt as the demand of ‘mediocre’ students is more than supply.

When the overall socio-political environment is spoilt, when big corporate houses in India have achieved success by copying value created by the developed world, when they have failed to motivate people towards innovation and instead concentrated on profit booking and revenue making, the fate of academic would also follow the suit.

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