Indian academics are being exhorted these days to publish in top journals, many of them US-based. That's how you build knowledge, become thought leaders, we are told. Now, however true this may be for the pure sciences, one has always had reservations about applying this philosophy to b-schools. B-schools teach management, which is the application of knowledge, preferably, to the local context. How arcane research can contribute to this objective has always been an issue.
It is refreshing, therefore, to come across a different point of view being urged by Britain's universities minister, David Willetts. Andrew Hill, writing in his blog in the FT, quotes Willetts as saying that publishing in US peer-reviewed journals mostly involves analysing US data- and Willetts can't see how that will help the UK. He also faults the 'rarefied and recherche' nature of much management research. So, we come back to very basic - and still unanswered questions. What is meaningful research at b-schools? What relative weights do we accord to teaching and research in b-schools?
The sooner India's leading b-schools find answers to these questions, the better. It should not be that they recast incentives in favour of publishing abroad only to find themselves of diminishing relevance in their own environment.