Indispensible Research

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 7, 2014 - 00:40

Integrate various disciplines into management to accelerate research say Ankur Joshi and Puneet Bindlish.

It is no surprise that even B-schools graduates underestimate the role of research in strengthening management foundation. Though research has two aspects—fundamental and applied, students seem to identify it only with its latter aspect. Let us try to understand what exactly is contemporary management research.

Management profession has changed significantly, but management education has not. With reducing information asymmetry around research advancements in various fields, the practitioning companies and consultants from all fields are venturing in research in their own way for their own use. This trend is further weakening the case of management as a legitimate academic domain.
Apart from identity crisis of management degrees, with increasing globalisation and differences in perspectives of understanding of business, management education is facing fundamental issues. Firstly, the learning crisis emanating from an inadequately adaptive pedagogy which does not impart experiential learning. This issue gets further compounded by lack of research in integrated approaches to introduce the social, economic and ethnic realities. Secondly, a skewed curriculum diminishing the relevance of management discipline. Knowledge of management has three domains - phronesis - wisdom to do whats good and how much is possible in the given context, episteme – theory and techne – hows of things. Majority of management courses deal with episteme and techne aspect, very few dealing with phronesis aspect dealing with “why” and “for whom” of management.

The thirdly and most important, faculty! The lagging rate of growth in the number of quality faculty as compared to student enrolments in B-schools. For example, in India there are about 4,000 B-schools producing 350,000 graduates each year, with an approximate faculty strength of 30,000. There is a need for 16,000 faculty members.
Fourthly, narrow perspective. There is a need for an international dimension in the curricula including the promotion of a global perspective, questioning of the status quo and reinforcement of individual identity and cultural tolerance. The next issue is, the underbelly of placement data. N-ow-a-days, business programmes are more about networking, screening and recruitment services. All these activities have no inherent capacity to grow and sustain the discipline. Focus should be on research and, placements can be seen as by-products of the learning process that a graduate experiences in these institutions. Finally, the output of B-schools which lack in values and ethics.

All these issues are clearly consequences of lack of focussed management research by management institutions. Management discipline has to devise a mechanism to enable itself to borrow realtime from all other branches of human endeavor - science, engineering, philosophy, theology, humanities, economics etc., rather than taking crutches of few domains.

Globally, the fraternity seems to have acknowledged the crisis and are responding by organising conferences, doctoral colloquiums and focussed discussions on these issues. In India, at present, these efforts are being done by the IIMs, MDI and other universities. At MDI, the doctoral candidates are encouraged for field trips, cultural immersions and to explore experiential qualitative methodologies. Institutions like ISB, IIM-A are organising doctoral colloquiums to give direction and strength to the overall management research foundation.

The real recipe is to integrate various disciplines into the bedrock of management as a domain. Some IITs have woken up in last decade to include other non-technical departments and encourage collaborative research with other departments. However, it is a long way before they make a fundamental contribution to management research.



First Published: Tuesday, January 7, 2014 - 00:40

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