Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Management gurus and b-schools

I have been extremely preoccupied in recent weeks, hence this long lay off from my blog. I hope to be more regular starting next week.

What exactly is the link between b-schools and good management? Can good management be taught the way it is done at b-schools? These are questions that have vexed people for long and we don't have good answers. Of course, many successful managers have come out to b-schools but that's because b-schools simply get the brightest. And we have lots of successful entrepreneurs and managers who never touched a book on management.

Incidentally, Ravi Matthai, the first full-time director of IIMA, had no academic background in management. He was a BA (Hons) from Oxford and had been a chief executive at a firm in Calcutta before he moved into academics. He went on to become a pioneer in management education.

To return to my questions, law journals contribute to lawyers' effective practice. Doctors benefit by reading medical journals. Scholarly management journals are read only by academics so that they can produce more papers that other academics can read. HBR is, perhaps, the one management journal that executives read- and it would not help an academic make tenure in most places.

I had a chance to read Michael Stewart's The Management Myth and write an op-ed piece based on it, Begone, management gurus! Stewart skewers the OB and strategy stuff but there is more to management than that- finance and the quantitative sciences have applicable stuff that is based on sound theory. But I would go along with Stewart's proposal for a remake of the MBA programme by including a heavy dose of the classical liberal arts education.

7 comments:

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Anonymous said...

Ravi Mathai may be an entrepreneur/executive who never had management training...However, it should not be lost that well respected man who didnot have formal training thought it necessary to start an intitute to give formal training to aspirants... That in itself tells me that management education is necessary... However, in practice, MBA may be skewed.

--anonymous!!

Gaurav K said...

The way the management programmes are organized in the IIMs, they seem to be producing more of analysts, traders, etc rather than true managers.

It would be instructive to see how many people from the batches of 2003 to 2007 (say) are managing a team of more than 20 people currently. I have a feeling their jobs would have heavier bias towards the said quantitative, analysis skills rather than the people management kind of skills. That is how we end up being trained...not least because students who enter the IIMs consider 'softer' subject fluff and find it difficult to learn in the current pedagogy.

Anonymous said...

Sir, very valid point. As a relatively recent pgpx grad from wimwi I can see to dismay the kind of MBAs we are producing. I wonder where did we lose the concept of thoughtfulness in decision making and all I see is a set of clones regurgitating management jargon. It is so disappointing.

It would be a good exercise to compile a list of liberal arts literature MBAs can use. I personally have found literature on design and music particularly fascinating and one that slowly gets you in the habit of deep thinking and thoughtfulness. Another I can recommend is Gödel, Escher, Bach.

Stela James said...

Real one is training.


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Jyoti said...

I fully agree with you that management education should have a heavy dose of classical liberal arts education - I am writing this at a time when I am framing a course on Masters in Public Policy and have realised that not many such courses are being offered in India and it will be a task to find faculty with the right kind of pedagogy to address the students - most of us have been self taught as we have a LA bent of mind

kylemaniaa said...

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