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"I want to see mgmt theory originating from IIM A"
| 08 Oct, 2012 0107 hrs IST
Dr Barua speaks on his experience at IIM A and dwells on the challenges that the man heading the top most B-school in the country faces
In a candid conversation with MBAUniverse.com, Dr Barua, who has won many laurels for his outstanding performance as an academician and administrator, speaks on his experience at IIMA. He dwelt on the challenges that the man heading the top most B-school in the country faces. He also shares his views on the Indian Placement Reporting Standard (IPRS) and other dimensions of management education in the country.
Excerpts of the interview:
Q: You have been with IIMA for more than 30 years and the last five years being its director. When you look back, what are the milestones that you would like to mention during your tenure?
A: First of all, it has been very fulfilling years for me at IIMA. As the director of IIMA, one thing I have been able to do is to significantly increase international recognition of the institute. We always believe that we are fit to compete with the best of the world. But somehow the rest of the world needs crunches to believe. We wait for the EQUIS rating. We became the first institute to be accredited by this prestigious international accreditation agency. We got re-accredited in 2011.
Then we approached Financial Times. They are selective, and do not rate every programme. They do preliminary evaluation before allowing you to participate. We went ahead and participated in the Financial Times ranking. Today, both PGP and PGP-executive have very high demand among the comparable global programmes. Our PGP-ABM is also among the top programmes in international rankings.
We are also getting branded among the 100 B-schools by the Economist. So our institute and all our programmes are ranked high. Though, it does not matter much to our quality, ranking are sometimes very useful as it is the way that world sees this.
The second thing is that I have been able to give a push to the agenda of research. Last year, for example, our faculty members were able to publish around a dozen papers in reputed global journals. The number may appear small but it is a good beginning. We are planning to push it to about 40 papers every year.
Q: Where do you see IIMA in coming years?
A: We are progressing in the right direction. I would not be surprised if a management theory is named after a faculty member of IIMA in the next four five years. I want to see the day when management theory will originate from IIMA. I am waiting for the day when a theory being taught everywhere has its origin in IIMA.
Q: What were the challenges you faced in the last five years as the director?
A: The biggest challenge was that any public institution faces. You can be asked any type of question by the rest of the society and you are bound to respond. This is a very big challenge which private institutions do not encounter.
The second big challenge is about getting good faculty. It may appear surprising to you. The reason behind it is that we are very choosy about recruitment and probably end up recruiting one out of 15 applicants that we shortlist.
Q: Does it relate to compensation to faculty members?
A: The issue is not remuneration. It’s simply because there are not enough academic persons. There are not enough people who are opting for academic careers. I think the academic career should not be the second choice. Today, those who do not get anything end up being instructors.
The third challenge is the location disadvantage (being in Ahmedabad). The reason is that spouses of persons who wish to join are also very bright. They become choosy about the location. Unfortunately, in this city you do not have enough opportunities. It is not a challenge for cities like Bangalore and Hyderabad.
Q: Is placement the biggest yardstick to measure quality of a B-school? What about those who have just started a few years back and are yet to put up a good show despite making necessary investments?
A: My own philosophy is that placement should be completely secondary. Because I don’t think that as the director of an academic institution I am here to talk about the compensation. I should be concerned about imparting knowledge, skills and training and the quality of the offering. But when you look at the rest of the world -- the immediate world of students, candidates, parents, relatives, recruiters and ranking agencies -- everybody is focussing on placement and salary. So, you can’t get away from reality.
Personally, I feel one way to take placement out of the equation is that the system should be provided by an agency across business schools. Let institutes concentrate on education and allow others to handle placement.
Q: There are 3,500 B-schools in India. But beyond top 25-30, most of them face challenges on both the admission and placements fronts. Do you think the IPRS is practically implementable in the Indian
A: I don’t think it is going to be easily adopted by a large number of business schools. Therefore, the adoption process is going to be slow. But I also believe that we are moving in the right direction. We are doing everything possible; particularly for the schools to signal that they become better governed irrespective of the placement record.
Q: When we talk about IPRS, collecting data from recruiters is the main challenge that B-schools face. Even IIMA also failed to get data from recruiters despite being the top in the system? How should other B-schools cope with this challenge?
A: This is where the role of media organizations comes into play. They can play a constructive role here. All rating agencies must put pressure on recruiters and ask them to publicise the report on the same. That’s how you can build social pressure on recruiters. Over a period of time, this will automatically become a norm.
Q: The management education in India is passing though a phase of shake-out and consolidation. How do you see the scenario?
A: To me, it is because of the economic slowdown. It is not surprising that management schools are finding it difficult to enroll students and place those who pass out. If the economic environment improves, I hope a whole lot of corrections will happen. Other part of the story is that the craze for management education has resulted in creation of oversupply of capacity. And it is not surprising that it is getting corrected. My own sense is that the correction would be healthy. Marginal institutions will really have to close down and institutions with caliber will survive.
Q: What is your suggestion to players who despite investing in infrastructure and faculty have not been able to put a good show on the output front.
A: The trust or alliance that is running such an institute needs to be patient. No academic institution becomes well known in four-five years. An academic institution takes time to really build up.
Q: CAT numbers have increased. What is your take on that?
A: To my mind, this is a random phenomenon.
Q: Many B-schools have opened campuses in other cities (IIM Kozhikode in Kochi, IIM Trichi in Chennai, IIM Lucknow in Noida, etc). Do you see any possibility for IIMA opening its extension centres in metros?
A: I don’t think that it is good idea for an institute to open centre here and there without considering the fallout on the quality.
Q: Your term comes to an end next month. What’s the next?
A: I enjoy being an academician. I will continue to be a faculty at the institute…
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