Challenges faced by B-Schools in the Digital Economy


Rana Singh
Reader in Management
Delhi School of Professional Studies & Research (DSPSR)

The B-Schools these days are competing internationally to have competitive edge above one-another and to become stronger gradually. The competition to be one of the most preferred destinations for recruitment among the corporate world is gradually becoming hotter. The competition is becoming tougher year after year.

The companies are vying for the Zero Slot on the various premier campuses. The companies are ready to pay any amount to the placement team to get the zero slot. By Zero slot, the companies want to be the first one to interview all the candidates to make the offer on the very first day the placement starts.

The business education sector has seen a paradigm shift in sharp contrast to the early days of management education when it was in nascent and evolutionary stage. The various b-schools are vying to get themselves rated by the various Indian government accreditation bodies like NAAC-A statutory accreditation body of UGC, NBA-A statutory accreditation body of AICTE and various other accreditation bodies of India and abroad.

The B-Schools across the globe and Indian b-schools in particular are facing various challenges at various dimensions in the current scenario. The most intriguing aspect is on the retention of quality faculty members who are the right blend of academics, research and consulting. The teachers who can give the best of the academic inputs to the budding business professionals, imbibe professional values, can inspire the students/participants to be the business leaders of tomorrow is a rare species. The turnover rate of faculty members across the globe is an area of immense concern to the top echelons of the various b-schools. So, to conclude the b-schools across the globe are facing a big challenge of attracting and retaining the quality talent with the right blend of desired pre-requisites.

The second major area of concern is in managing the best placement avenues for the students. A majority of the second rung b-Schools are finding it difficult to manage the best of the placements for all the students studying on campus. The problems of inviting the corporate HR Managers to the campus, the HR Managers being skeptical of getting the right kind of skills, coupled with problems with communication, presentation skills and lack of academic rigour together enhances the severity of the problem.

Focus on research has been a major area of challenge in the light of major research findings becoming obsolete and redundant in the light of the advent of internet technologies and the increasing demand of techno-business professionals by the corporate world. The focus of the research has to be gradually oriented towards the tools of the digital economy. The research topics are gradually being oriented towards the techno-business issues etc. like e-business, e-ecommerce, Internet Security, Internet Marketing, Online Recruitment, Online Trading etc.

Redundancy management has been a major challenge in various b-schools across the globe. A special task force is advisable to manage the redundancy in various areas including curriculum, IT infrastructure, Teaching methods, tools and methodologies, faculty members and their skills, course module, evaluation and assessment processes, gadgetries and equipments, and many other areas of crucial importance. If the b-Schools can plan for the redundancy management well in advance, it shall facilitate the students and the faculty members as well as the organizations where the MBA pass out students will work.

The B-Schools are finding it increasingly difficult to invite the talent from the corporate world and retain them as faculty members. So, a majority of Indian b-Schools are suffering from the syndrome that the management teachers who are teaching the budding doyens of the corporate world have never been or seen the corporate world, lifestyle, functioning and are least aware of the practical intricacies and nuances of the corporate world. It may be advisable to the regulatory bodies to make it compulsory to the management teachers to keep themselves abreast with the latest movements of the real life happenings of the corporate world so as to equip themselves with the latest and upgraded knowledge to guide/teach the budding corporate doyens.

The Research and the Research Journals require a special focus in the digital economy as the knowledge without research is akin to the story of the person who was consistently throwing some stone-like stuff in the river till at last he could realize, what he was throwing was diamond. Research gives a new dimension to the acquired knowledge and how it can add value to the all concerned. But surprisingly, research does not figure in the annual budget or if present has a very low or insignificant budget in many of the Indian B-schools.

Organizing International Conferences and seminars are also a big challenge in front of the leading B-Schools. The International Conferences and seminars provide a special platform to the researchers, academicians and the corporate doyens to share a common platform to leverage the knowledge acquired in the world of academics and the practical world. The process of organizing International Conferences and Seminars require a good allocation of funds to make it successful. But Indian B-Schools are yet to catch the foreign B-Schools in terms of their focus on organizing the International Conferences and Seminars. Though there are various funding and sponsoring bodies sponsoring such conferences and seminars, but what is pathetically lacking in various Indian b-Schools is a dedicated team of Faculty Members committed to such causes and having a strong entrepreneurial zeal duly supported by the students body to supplement such cause.

The most important challenge to the different b-Schools of India is in terms of bagging Corporate Consultancy assignments and to deliver them successfully with the highest degrees of customer ecstasy. The majority of the Indian b-Schools are involved in run-of-the mill teaching process and the faculty members devoting maximum time in teaching, teaching and teaching having left with little or no time to bag and deliver corporate consultancy assignments. The challenge is on various frontiers including gaining the confidence level of the corporate world to an extent that they can trust them and deliver a consulting assignment which can add value to both the faculty member and the corporate world.

Management development programmes and Executive Development programmes are also a big challenge in front of the B-Schools. More that 90 % of the Indian B-Schools are not conducting Management Development Programmes and Executive Development Programmes. The b-Schools which conduct MDP and EDP programmes get consistent enrichment of knowledge by the experience sharing process during the MDP programme and EDP programme. The process of conducting MDP and EDP progammmes is a win-win process for both the Faculty Members as well as the participants coming from the corporate world.

Managing Digital libraries and collaborative access of library resources is becoming a big challenge in the currents scenario. The various b-schools are not in a condition to afford the various costly digital resources and the various international journals, digital resources, databases and other high-end resources for the library. The libraries of the b-schools of the various developing economies and the under developed economies are facing an acute problem in managing the most updated digital resources to keep their students and faculty members updated. The b-schools must enter into a collaborative set-up to maximize the use of digital resources at their discretion and to minimize the cost of access and overall affordability to the students.

The most important challenge in front of the various b-schools across India is in the light of the cost-benefit analysis. India has one of the highest disparity in terms of the overall fee structure. The fees charged by the government run Faculty of Management Studies is just few thousands for the MBA programme whereas some private institutions in the private sector are charging in the range of 2.5 to 25 lakhs for the Masters Programme in Management. Its becoming increasingly difficult to meet the regulatory norms of stipulatory number of Faculty Members, their salary as per stipulated norms, library, computer etc. and to be cost effective in the light of rapid increase in the real estate prices and the huge cost of maintaining such a huge infrastructure to sustain a b-school.

Brand Positioning of the B-School is a big challenge among over one thousand Indian B-schools. Only a chosen few are able to have a good image in the minds of the corporate world because they have been consistent in terms of pursuing research, publishing journals, providing IT and Management Consultancy services to the corporate world, consistently organizing International conferences and seminars, and consistently providing good placements to the students.

The salary package offered by the corporate world to the passing out students one of the most important parameters for which most of the b-schools are rubbing shoulders. The international placements are also a big challenge faced by many of the leading b-schools. The PPO's (Pre Placement offers) and LPO (lateral Placement offers) are an important benchmark these days in the leading b-Schools for having a competitive positioning.

To conclude, the increasing rate of competition in India and other B-Schools in the Asia-Pacific Region has brought the b-schools on their toes to perform or perish. The business education sector is getting hot like the competition in the corporate world. Thus the b-schools need to re-engineer the systems, processes and the procedures to catch up with the international competition so as to remain in the globalized world of educational services in the light of the fact that the students and the corporate world are gradually becoming more and more demanding.

Rana Singh
Reader in Management
Delhi School of Professional Studies & Research (DSPSR)

Source: E-mail September 12, 2006


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