On Campus

Management schools must look East

Asha Bhandarker | Updated on February 05, 2014

STUDENTS FROM Wuhan University in China taking a stroll on the Manasagangotri campus of Mysore University. Wuhan University has introduced specialised courses in humanities and social studies.



Indian management schools are so western oriented that they ignore a plethora of knowledge from the Asia-Pacific region (APAC) which has some large and growing economies: China, Japan, Malaysia and Indonesia.

As an invited speaker at the Deans and Directors conference in Hangzhou in November 2013, it struck me that APAC provides plenty of opportunities Indian business need to tap into. By organising this conference, AMBA (Association of MBAs), the leading international B School accreditation body — played a key role in bringing the APAC management schools together on a common platform. It attracted participation from 120 Deans and Directors from leading management schools in countries such as Japan, China, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Hongkong, in addition to countries like Kazakhstan, Sweden etc.

Issues discussed

The interactions were highly stimulating because of the sheer diversity of the participants, their experiences and their presentations. The presentations provided insight into the issues, challenges and opportunities facing management educators in this region.

For example one of the key softer issues which emerged in the discussions was the concern expressed on how to make Chinese B-School graduates more creative and independent thinkers rather than confirm and follow.

The general view which emerged at the conference was the need to innovate, in order to produce excellence in management education. Another thrust area pointed out was to reorient management education to develop entrepreneurial capabilities rather than managerial alone. In fact, with the global economies slowing down and job creation being weak, there is an even greater need to develop entrepreneurs who are job creators. Such reorientation will help B-Schools to align with economic priorities and thus serve their stakeholders much better.

Another major insight has been the realisation that the APAC is also emerging as a bloc with mutual cooperation and exchange of information. The possibilities for cooperation are plenty. It was evident that there is rapid growth of the part time MBA in countries like China.

In Antai College in Shanghai for example, there is strong demand from entrepreneurs who want to do part-time courses to enhance their management and business related competencies. Although China has been a late entrant in MBA education- China had just 3 business schools in 1991- it is catching up and today has approximately 233 business schools. It is noteworthy that four Chinese business schools —Tsinghua, Fudan, Renmin University and Antai college- feature in the Financial Times top 100 global rankings.

Clearly, China is making big strides in providing high quality management education as well. I could experience that there was a keen interest among various deans and directors across countries like China, Australia, Fiji to connect with India and understand the Indian model of management.

There was a general interest in internationalisation. Another very important phenomenon has been the introduction of context specific content.

This has been practiced by Waikato business school. Wuhan University has introduced specialised courses in humanities and social studies; compared with Chinese and western cultures, thereby broadening their curricula.

Future directions for business education were predicted to be in the movement to introduce courses like politics, Big Data, sustainability and design, in addition to the regular functional courses.

This ties in very neatly with the larger issues that impinge on businesses.

Asha Bhandarker is professor of Human Resources at New Delhi-based International Management Institute.

Published on February 05, 2014

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