"Busting the MBA Mafia"
Hony. Dean of Centre for Economic Research and Advance Studies, IIPM, Prof. Arindam Chaudhuri is perhaps the man IIPM is associated most with. Management Guru, Best Selling Author, Business Magazine Editor, Film Maker... he dons many hats. However, it is taking of workshops on management and the Indian economy that he is most passionate about. Apart from writing on socially important issues, keeping gatherings of thousands enthralled for hours through his passionate speeches is his forte. Here he writes on why he thinks that there is an MBA Mafia in India.
Management education as a term has been defined, redefined and today it is being ill-defined. It’s common knowledge that management education can be imparted after doing graduation in any stream, be it history, geography, economics, biology, engineering etc. The most important aspect of the above fact is that management is not that well developed stream for which one has to spend years of education (5 years or more). What I mean is if one wants to do Masters in Geography, he necessary has to have a bachelors Degree in Geography and the same is with physics, economics, and all other streams of higher education. This is so as all these streams are very well developed and therefore to understand a Masters level theory for micro biology for example requires a perfect understanding of all the graduation level theories of the same subject. All the other fields of post graduate studies are post graduate in nature because of the higher level of technicalities and theories in them.
What I am trying to drive towards is the non challengeable fact that management as a stream of studies is more hype than content. Infact, after a certain point its actually not possible to develop it any further. That is why today, famous management experts, international management gurus as well as the top management consulting firms in a last ditch effort are trying to come out with newer models which at best borders between being silly and at worst being ridiculous. The same theories are today being reformulated with different and more complicated jargons and new circles, triangles, and rectangles added in the same model. English is a beautiful language. From Hallmark to Archies, they all make millions out of this language by putting the same words like “I love you” in millions of different ways in their cards in an effort to produce emotions in their printing factories. Today’s management consulting firms and experts are trying to use the same to keep their profession alive.
Anyway coming back to where we were, the fact is management is no nuclear physics for which a very high IQ is required nor is it so technical that only IIT and other top engineering graduates can only understand it. This time I am trying to drive towards the fact that the enormously tough entrance tests for MBA education is absolutely unwarranted and unnecessary. Neither has the level of input imparted got anything to do with it (my point about history to engineering students being offered MBA) nor has the nature of application of the subject. In fact the realization today is that people with more EQ (Emotional Quotient) are definitely better material for a successful manager than those with higher IQ who could definitely do the country some good working in the R&D labs for which the government invests so much on them rather than nurturing ambitions of becoming MBAs and then eventually leaving the country as well. These people (from IIT and likes) should either pay up for the investment the government makes on them as well as the opportunity cost or perhaps barred from changing streams or be asked to serve the public sector/defense sector/government initiatives for at least seven to ten years before they are allowed to venture into other areas.
I remember, one of the ex deans of FMS, Delhi in a frantic bid to justify the tough entrance tests once said in an interview with CSR that so many questions in so little time basically was a test of the individuals ability to make quick decisions which is the most important aspect of management.
The reality however is that, if you take decisions too quickly you would turn out to be more of a damager than a manager. For a small change in a product such a lot of time consuming systematic research is required. Even before the research is undertaken a whole lot of time is spent on deciding who should be given the contract. All this because such a lot of money is at stake.
Looking at things around I am forced to feel that this country today has a mafia operating in the field of MBA education. A group of people with vested interests who want to keep this simple common sense education limited only to a few so that their starting salaries can be artificially jacked up to anything between Rs. 5 lakhs and 8 lakhs per annum. If they are so good then why don’t our public sector companies too employ them and revive instead of going on sale. Why don’t we produce 2000 MBAs in each of the IIMs with such phenomenal facilities, acres of land and huge buildings? It is not done so that companies get intimidated by the huge infrastructure, in which just about 150 to 200 students are made to feel in the ninth clouds, and get compelled to pay astronomical sums of money. These schools therefore create an artificial scarcity and capitalise on it. If the number of students are not artificially and unnecessary limited the salaries perhaps would come down to Rs. 3 to Rs. 4 lakhs per annum at the maximum which is their actual worth and with more better quality MBAs the growth rate of our country might break the 2% to 3% barrier which the current number of highly educated MBAs have been able to give the country.
In a land where the greatness of a teacher is reflected by the amount of education he has spread, here in this field of management we have teachers who want to limit the spread of education for their own respect in society as well as for the profits and superficial glamour of the MBA graduates. They are comparable to our corrupt and illiterate politicians who don’t want to educate the public because of the fear that the first thing educated public would do is to reject them. Infact, keeping in mind the level of education of our management educators they are a worse lot, for it is worse to be educated and yet wanting education to be limited so that you can milk it than to be uneducated and wanting the masses to remain so.
Being from the management field myself one might wonder what makes me write all this. The truth is inspite of all the hype I do believe that MBA is one field of education which shapes up personalities, so I love this field and I wish that thousands more could benefit out of it and in turn help the country develop faster. In our institute, IIPM at least, this is what we strive for.