IIMs-Are They The Best?

RC Bharagava has recently made certain very relevant remarks about what and how IIMs are manufacturing management graduates. IIMs attract the best brains of India that include engineers, doctors, accountants, arts, science, and commerce graduates and even some from those selected in administrative services. Even hordes of IITians after getting the specialized training and knowledge of engineering join IIMs. Unfortunately, most of the students are without any work experiences. I am one of the many who disapprove this.

I have written many times about it. I earnestly appeal the industrial bodies such as CII, FICII and others to discourage this practice. It results in the diversion of the best lot to grow as generalists rather than as expert professionals such as engineers, architects and doctors.

RCBhargava was the CEO of Maruti Ltd. And as it seems, he is still the chairman of Maruti Suzuki, though it has become a Japanese company after it bought the majority of the share from the Indian government. He has a very strong and genuine concern and suggests that the IIMs must create and use Indian case studies instead of taking them from foreign universities such as Harvard. Interestingly, Mr. Bharagava heads a recent IIM Review Committee set up by the Centre. His viewpoints are pertinent: “India is a big enough country. So why are we not creating material out of the Indian experience? If there are no sufficient Indian case studies, how do you teach and create managers who are relevant to our business context?”

According to him, not a single “really good” case study of even Maruti had emanated from the IIMs. “Somebody has done a little bit here and somebody a little bit there. That’s all.” It is strange, as we keep on hearing Harvard using Indian Railways, Mumbai Dabbawallas, FabIndia, and ITC’s e-Choupal for its case studies. Are the teachers in the management schools negligent or complacent? Remunerations, some say, are poor. But can that be the reason when one selects teaching as profession?

According to Mr.. Bharagava, Management teachers are having so strong an obsession for teaching western business models in B-schools that nobody even mentions, let alone teaches a course, about Japanese management practices. “Students aren’t really told how the Japanese built up their industry after the war and the management systems developed by their firms.” Who can deny the mastery of Japanese of manufacturing management? It is the Japanese who produce better than six-sigma quality standard without following that practice. Surprisingly, the whole of West and US has started learning and following Japanese management system. Indian industry has got the maximum benefit out of it with many Deming Prizes with it. Only when the West adopts the Japanese management systems, some of it comes back to the teachers of IIMs. Tata Motors and Ratan Tata’s Nano can get globally accepted, but IIMs will not consider that a subject of case study to teach innovation in it courses.

The IIMs are not being able to attract good faculty, particularly in functional areas such as finance, marketing, organizational behaviour and strategy. Though research and creating knowledge was one of the missions of IIMs apart from running post-graduate management programmes, it hardly does any significant research. Media hardly covers IIMs but for the admission and placement details with spicy reports. People at large in India might have heard of CK Prahalad, Tarun Khanna and so many other management gurus of Indian origin who are reputed management thinkers in US. But hardly any of the professors of IIMs have published any books that are as popular as those by them.

IIMs produce very few PhDs and very few students find it attractive to come back as faculty. To Mr. Bharagava, Brand IIM has probably more to do with the quality of the students who enter through a ruthless process of selection rather than because of the contribution of teachers.

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