Opinion

The MBA needs to refresh

Vinay Kamath | Updated on January 22, 2018

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Social media has students pipping the profs

The Indian MBA programme, which has churned out legions of managers, is under threat, say practitioners and top corporate honchos. The business environment has changed drastically, more so in the last decade. It’s a VUCA world out there, and B-schools are caught SMAC in the middle of it. The internet and mobile apps have changed the business paradigm, e-commerce is re-shaping business models and industries, while MOOCs are redefining how education can be delivered. New disciplines in social media and analytics have emerged overnight and are creating altogether new jobs which fresh recruits are learning virtually on the fly.

Most B-schools are scrambling to keep pace. As one professor put it, the students are already in 4G mode while the faculty is still in 2G. Often, with the power of the net and social media, students know a great deal more than the academics themselves. Many students are looking to start their own businesses or seeking out startups to join. Can B-schools shape this entrepreneurial zest? Post the golden age of manufacturing, for 30-40 years, organisations functioned in a certain way, with a set hierarchy that suited the structure of the MBA as well. But the past decade has turned this topsy-turvy. The digital disruption wave has sent organisations scrambling for new skill-sets. Today’s business environment calls for more agility and creativity and that’s not something B-schools can teach.

There is a call for the MBA to offer more experiential learning, making it more eclectic and sensitising students to the environment and community rather than being responsible only to the traditional stakeholders of a corporation. B-schools are also attempting to become more gender-diverse. The highly quant-oriented management entrance exams, a fact alluded to by ICICI Bank chief Chanda Kochhar in a recent speech, has seen engineers, mostly all-male, crack the CAT, do their MBAs and land up in finance jobs — a complete distortion of the education system. But the MBA will metamorphose and survive, and students from top B-schools will continue to get plum jobs — for organisations, it continues to be the best filter to shortlist the best brains.

Associate Editor

Published on November 06, 2015

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