How, and why, SP Jain Institute is pushing faculty research

Vinay Kamath Chennai | Updated on January 19, 2018


B-school ropes in global researchers to train faculty

Ranjan Banerjee, who took over as Dean of the SP Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR) last year after a long stint in the corporate world and consulting, believes the faculty at Indian B-schools are hampered by the quality of research training. Consequently, the quality of research output falls short of expectation, he said.

As Dean, Banerjee expects to push the research agenda at SPJIMR.

“One of the main challenges B-schools face is in research and thought leadership. By and large, Indian B-schools have not influenced practice but created practitioners. If you talk to Indian industrialists, they will be able to name the top five global professors from Harvard and Wharton, but won’t be able to name five Indian professors. We haven’t had that sort of research impact,” he said.

One of the reasons for this is the quality of research training in the West, which is not available here. Over the past six months, SPJIMR has had some of the best researchers come down to Mumbai to train its faculty, according to Banerjee. “We have had Om Narasimhan of LSE, Rajesh Chandy of LBS, Vithala Rao of Cornell, among others, come down to conduct workshops on action research for our faculty,” he said.

Project briefs

SPJIMR is creating project briefs out of these seminars. These live projects with field work in India — in areas which the West is interested in — will see international researchers collaborating with SPJIMR researchers to come up with meaningful reports.

“We are looking at action research in corporate and social settings. We have already identified projects in consultation with the international faculty,” added the dean.

Light and shade

To push the envelope in meaningful research, SPJIMR is also in talks with large retail chains to wire up a few stores, where researchers can play with variables.

“For example, we will change lighting in one store and not in another, among other things, and then run actual field tests to test the efficacy of these variables,” he explained.

In the US, many top research schools have behavioural labs. SPJIMR is in talks with global faculty to set up one on its premises. Banerjee hopes to make the flow of faculty two-way instead of a one-way street, from the US and the UK to India.

“We are taking some of our work abroad. For instance, GMAC has a workshop on change management for international deans, and I have been invited to conduct this workshop,” he said, adding that he hopes to push more faculty to conduct international programmes, as well as work closely with the corporate sector.

Published on January 26, 2016

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