Theme 2018: MBA Pedagogy for 21st Century Business School

Table: Frameworks for making MBA Curriculum recommendations

Models Focus I Focus II Focus III
WEF 21st Century Skills Model (2016) Foundation Literacy


Character Qualities

Dr Datar’s Framework (2010) Knowing Doing Being
KSA Framework (1950s) Knowledge Skills Attitude
IMC recommended following for improving MBA Curriculum in India
Foundational Literacy: To fill the gap created by unequal university education in India, our theme paper argued for extensive, and personalized, Pre-MBA engagement for rebuilding basic numerical and language competencies before candidate enters a B-school. Further, during the program, extensive use of MOOCs and education technology platforms should be used to build foundations in core managerial areas.
Highest emphasis on Competence & Skills: Developing the ‘Doing skills’ need much more emphasis at our B-school. How effectively do young MBAs perform on the first job, should perhaps be the key goal. This requires both curriculum and pedagogical interventions.
Building Character Qualities: Being a “good” manager and leader is more important than being an “effective” one. Our whitepaper argued for embracing ancient Indian wisdom and for developing effective evaluation and screening approaches at GD Interview stage.

In this backdrop, the focus of 9th IMC 2018 is on MBA Pedagogy.

The unanimous view of eminent speakers and experts at IMC 2017 was that while the Content is important, a lot of value can be added to MBA programme by focusing on teaching-learning methodologies that help improve the ‘doing’ and ‘being’ skills of MBA graduates.

So, while Content is well known (think Porter’s Competitive Strategy or Kotler’s Marketing Management), Pedagogy is an ever-evolving area, where experiments are going on in all parts of the world. Ubiquitous technology has added further dynamism to this domain.

In Rethinking the MBA, Dr Srikant Datar wrote: “At the level of Content – particularly the core curriculum and subjects covered – we found programs to be much alike…At the level of Pedagogy – particularly the use of cases, exercises and problem sets – schools are diverse.” Let’s dig a little deeper into Dr Datar’s findings.

Based on detailed analysis of the 2006 and 2007 curricula of eleven leading MBA programs: Carnegie Mellon (Tepper), Chicago Booth, Dartmouth (Tuck), Harvard, INSEAD, MIT (Sloan), NYU (Stern), Northwestern (Kellogg), Stanford, Wharton, and Yale, Dr Datar and others came to following conclusions:

Similar Content: “At the level of content-particularly the core curriculum and the subjects covered –we found programs to the much alike. Schools offer the same basic mix of requirements, with coverage of many of the same topics.”

Diverse Pedagogy: “At the level of pedagogy-particularly the use of cases, exercises, and problem setsschools are diverse. Some schools vest heavily in a single teaching technique such as lectures or the case method, whereas at the other extreme are schools that rely on a wide mix of alternative pedagogies.
These differences vary somewhat depending on the course and the maturity of the field.”

Highly Differentiated Architecture/Program Design: “At the level of architecture-particularly regarding issues of structure, sequence, and requirements-we found a large number of highly differentiated approaches are distinguished along relatively few dimensions of choice… These dimensions are combined in many different ways, leading to considerable differences among programs.”

Common Purpose, some differentiations: “At the level of purpose-the animating ideas or educational goals of the program-we found both commonality and differences.”

In this backdrop, the last decade since the financial meltdown of 2008, has seen a lot of different pedagogical innovations and experiments. Two major areas are ‘Experiential Learning’ and the use of Technology in Learning.

‘Experiential Learning’ is the new buzzword in B-schools across the world with siblings like Action Learning, Immersions and Field Visits, Labs in areas like Finance, Digital and Data Analytics, and many other approaches. Technology is changing pedagogy in many ways: a) adding dynamism to all traditional methods like e-books, flipped classroom, video-cases, advance simulation et all; and b) rise of MOOCs and Platforms.

However, experts have a word of caution! Pedagogy must be closely linked to desired Learning Goals and have a measurable impact. Fads and buzzwords must not prevail over meeting well defined objectives. Given the diversity of pedagogical approaches, there is a greater need for developing both competencies, and judgement in how to align pedagogical tools to learning goals or objectives.

Before we move forward, let’s examine the Pedagogical mix used by global B-schools and Indian B-schools.

Pedagogy-Mix in MBA Education: IMC Analysis
Let’s start with understanding the global trends. According to a research by US based BusinessWeek magazine, in 2012, Case Study and Lecture were the dominant pedagogical approaches in top US & European B-schools. While 80% of all the teaching delivered at HBS was delivered via Cases, Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business said 50% of all the teaching is by Lecture method.

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