The mandate had been simple, India needs good managers and great engineers to drive growth. This saw the birth of the Indian Institutes of Management and the Indian Institutes of Technology. Then there was no time or money for research, but, today, good research is the key to global recognition. And, Indian B-schools are striving to meet global standards. Professor Debashis Chatterjee, director, IIM Kozhikode, said: “IIMs are maturing. We are late starters and we are not benchmarked yet. Ten years from now the story will be different.”
So, across IIMs and the other major B-schools in India, research is high on the priority list today. At the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management and Higher Studies, Debashish Sanyal, dean, school of business management, has kick-started the school's research programme. “We have appointed a dean for research, revamped our journals and have full-time Ph.D scholars,” he said.
Saloni Gandhi, a Ph.D candidate at NMIMS, has worked as a corporate trainer and wants to eventually run her own business. “India is still opening up to the idea of research, even in the corporate world, R&D is becoming increasingly important. So I figured, why not be a frontrunner?” she said.
Like Saloni, Christine D'Lima, who comes from an academic background and teaches business, decided that a Ph.D would further her career and give her expertise on the Indian market. “I want to focus broadly on advertising and consumer behaviour,” she said.
Research at B-schools has become more sophisticated than before. The IIM Ahmedabad faculty has published its research in the Journal of World Business, Journal of Personnel Psychology, and Computers & Operations Research.
P.F.X. D'Lima, president & CEO, Goa Institute of Management, said one of the research projects done by his institute was a review of the performance of the Goa government in the eleventh Five Year Plan. A mid-term appraisal, the project received a favourable mention from the Planning Commission. The institute is working on a study of irrigation projects in Goa and benefit derived from them, and a disaster management plan for the state.
The Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad, has established a Centre for Rural Innovation & Capacity Building through Entrepreneurship and Technology. Dr Lubna Nafiz from IMT said, “At CRICKET, one research we did was on the last mile coverage of brands in rural markets.”
Prof. Atish Chattopadhyay has seen growing international acceptance and interest in the research being done at at the SP Jain Institute of Management & Research. “We have received funds for our pedagogic innovations and our research and have also received substantial attention from academic institutions which want to collaborate with us,” he said.
SPJIMR's work on rethinking the MBA and pioneering work in retail shopper marketing have led to a course on shopper marketing and have found relevance in the industry. “Earlier international institutes would conduct research on India,” he said. “Now they want to learn from us and want our expertise on how we introduced socially sensitive value driven leaders. People are approaching us for collaborations.”
Even relatively new B-schools are focusing on the research aspect a lot more. Shalini Urs, founder and chairperson, MYRA School of Business, said, “We, at MYRA, are determinedly focusing on research-based learning. Research is interwoven with teaching and learning and underpins academia at a range of levels. While incorporating outcomes of research into curricula, students are made aware of the processes and methods of enquiry, thus creating a culture of research.”
Vice-President (Consulting), Cognizant
One of the best memories of my days at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, is listening to the late Prof. Pulin Garg, who made an impact on the lives of countless students and professionals. In one of his classes, he dissected the views most students had about their career, role and identity. According to him, perceptions, often highly influenced and also limited by convention, custom and peer pressure, hinder personal interpretation and framing of one's career goals. I participated wholeheartedly in this exercise, and realised the value of expanding my horizon beyond the standard compass of professional growth and taking a broader view of the various ways of achieving managerial success.
B-school made me open to diverse points of view, and made me more accessible to people I worked with. The openness has helped me win their confidence and gain their acceptance as a leader.
Director, Dell Global Analytics
Having come from an engineering background, I was amazed at the diversity in the educational backgrounds of my batchmates. An added bonus was that a few of them had up to 15 years of work experience.
In hindsight, I must say, the learning in B-schools is far more experiential than theoretical. Hence, the diversity of thought around you is an advantage and the benefit lies in how best you leverage it.
B-school changed my outlook and approach towards life. My strength now is that I value diversity and I have the ability to reconcile diverse opinions into a meaningful whole.
Another crucial thing I learnt in B-school was that “there is no one right answer to any problem”. The solution to every problem depends on the conviction of the decision maker, which is usually shaped by their background, leadership style, view of the future, the context at hand and the individual strengths of the team members they work with.