Rebooting MBA programmes

Rebooting MBA programmes

Management field is undergoing transformation with changes in the expectations of the stakeholders — students, parents, business firms, government, and society at large. The expectations from MBA programmes are also changing with evolutions in business practices and markets.

Management experts refer to them as challenges — the issues that have come to the fore and needs to be addressed on priority if the course has to retain or regain its relevance. The new business norms, government policies, business compulsions, changing consumer behaviour, and expectations of society from a new breed of managers have created new challenges to the acceptance of MBA course for career formation of a new breed of youth.

In order to keep in sync with the fast-changing world, MBA education is in need of a overhaul. Some of which are described below:

* Intrapreneurs are the need of hour: The work industry is looking forward to absorbing tech-savvy graduates to meet their manpower requirements. It expects youth to demonstrate zeal and passion through creativity, innovation, hard work, commitment, etc, to show competitive spirits and help business firms achieve better performances. They want today’s youth to show the ability to take risks to bring in new ideas, incubate them, and improve the speed of bringing products from manufacturing to market.

* From knowledge-oriented to skill-oriented: Earlier, our education system was focused on knowledge orientation. There was more focus on theory than practical application. Today, the focus is being laid on skill orientation. Business organisations are now looking at whether youngsters can apply their classroom knowledge to real-life situations effectively. Here the focus is given on both types of skills — hard and soft. MBA graduates are now expected to demonstrate visibility of their skills while at the work, which in turn contributes to improved performance in terms of increase in sales, profitability, market share and consumer satisfaction.

* Creation of global managers: All these years, our economy was inward looking, i.e., concerned only about local or national companies and their performance in the Indian market. However, with the advent of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation policies since early 1990s, there has been a shift in approach and we are now looking at creating global managers to meet the requirements of Indian firms marketing their products across different countries as well as the requirements of foreign firms operating in India to cater to the entire world market, including India.

* Industrial experts: Teaching a professional course demands bringing current business situations and simulating them in class during interactions with students to help them realise practical problems. This can be achieved if the programme has drawn support from some individuals in the industry associating with management institutes as adjunct faculties. They can bring their live experiences and share the process of identifying solutions for the problems encountered. Every day, new problems erupt in the corporate world due to changes in external and internal environments in which business is conducted and adjunct faculties can give their inputs on ways to find solutions to each of them — share their first-hand experience.

* Both theory and practical: While theoretical background in subjects can be a foundation to know basic concepts, practical aspects should help students realise how business firms tackle issues they confront and come out successful. Thus, an MBA programme must have proper integration of theory and practice to establish the relevance of the course. Managers are expected to solve the problems and not identify the problems. The management expects young managers to come up with creative and innovative ideas to find amicable solutions to the problems emerging in running a business. While theory is taught to students with book readings and lectures, practical side can be imparted through industry visits, interaction with industry people, field studies, research surveys etc.

* Convincing value proposition: Students get admitted into an MBA course by paying hefty fees and committing their valuable time of two years. They have to think about the value proposition of the institution, where they are getting admission, and whether it is convincing for them. The parents should also discuss these aspects with their wards and knowledgeable people they know. If management education has to maintain its relevance, it should realise the change agents and find out means to keep the MBA programme industry-relevant, where business firms should be prepared to accept MBAs for leading positions. Students also gain confidence that they are prepared to meet the challenges confronting them in the industry where they dream of building a rewarding career.

(The author is director, KLES Institute of Management Studies and Research, Hubballi)

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