Education

‘Indian case-studies missing in B-schools’

NS Vageesh Mumbai | Updated on January 23, 2018

Harvard Business Publishing working with top institutions to provide content

B-Schools are often criticised by their alumni for teaching management cases that have no direct relevance or belong to a different milieu (on American companies, for instance).

When we asked Vinay Hebbar, MD (Asia Pacific) of Harvard Business Publishing, about whether this had forced them to change their content, he had some interesting insights to offer.

HBP is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Harvard University, engaged in bringing out books, magazines and content as well as leadership development solutions for companies.

Surprisingly, the highest numbers of cases taught in Indian B-schools are not Indian case studies.

HBP works with over a hundred top B-schools in India to provide content, pedagogical practices and therefore has a good understanding of what is happening there.

This is not to say that Indian cases are not used and Vinay quickly points out that the Harvard Business School itself has more than 150 case studies on Indian companies.

Defending the case study methodology, he said the important thing in a case discussion is the learning objectives that have to be brought out clearly.

He said, “You are not reading about the cola wars to understand about the colas themselves or become an expert on cola wars. You are learning some concepts that you should be able to take across markets and across industries. In a sense, it teaches you how to think, how to break down a problem, define alternatives, select one based on a framework or the thinking you have and see how you can apply it.”

Asked about changes in the higher education space in the past decade, Vinay said all good schools understand and welcome participant-centred case method of study instead of the lecture method that was dominant earlier.

Even recruiters want students to learn with the case method.

Case studies help under real world situations when you don’t have complete information and you put yourself in the shoes of a decision maker. Our education system does not traditionally develop these skills and faculty and students see this as very important, he said.

Secondly, B-schools use more online learning; given the pressure to deliver more within a given time as some of them reduce their program duration from 2 years to 18 months or 16 months apart from part-time and week-end MBA programs.

There is also more diversity in the classroom. So, schools are using online portals to deliver more, Vinay said, giving the example of schools asking students to study material online before they come to class and then reinforce the concepts and learn to apply them in class.

Thirdly, B-Schools are using more simulations/gaming videos to increase engagement and make learning more interactive, referring to the core curriculum developed by HBP for various MBA programmes.

Endorsement comes from users such as Professor Jose from IIM-Bangalore and Professor Nirmal Gupta, visiting faculty of Indian School of Business, who say that attention level among students is very high when using simulations and learning is more fun.

Published on April 12, 2015

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