The Accountability of Management Education – Where’s the proof?
Prof. Navin Chandra is Dean – Admissions & Placements at South State Business School, Hyderabad. He has global experience in research, training and consultant work. With excellent client relationship management, he has made significant contribution to the growth of many SME’s and Multi-National Organizations.
Prior to joining SouthState Business School, he served Asia Graduate School of Business, Affiliate of Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University.
He was a recipient of the ‘Order of Merit’, ‘Blue Star’ and ‘Chandramani Cup’ for outstanding leadership at IIT, Kharagpur; also received ‘James Irvine Foundation Scholarship’ for research excellence at Univ. of Southern California.
A few years ago, I was part of an Academic Committee that came together to design curriculum for a Business School. As it happened, Harvard Business Review had just published an insightful research on the gap between academic curriculum and industry requirements. When I asked our consultant whether he knew about the article, he said no. When I offered to send it to him, he had no interest. How can someone whom we were paying dearly for advice be so indifferent to evidence to inform our decisions? It was startling but not surprising!
In Management Education, there needs to be a movement toward data-driven and fact-based decisions. Siloed departments and lack of benchmarks in curriculum design and pedagogy across business schools have thwarted management education for a long time.
In many disciplines, there are specialized licenses, courses and bodies of knowledge that practitioners are obliged to apply in their daily work. In law, people must pass an exam to get admission to the bar. Architects are required to be certified before practice; similarly medical students also need to get license to become doctors. For many other disciplines, there are certified national and international bodies that impart continuous professional education to practitioners. Management lacks this aspect and if business schools are set up only to address social need, then it will do damage rather than good. The strength of education lies in its accountability and measurability. Where the criteria of performance are intangible, such as political opinions, approvals, power equations, there education is most likely to fail.
To bring accountability in business schools and effective managers, there are two ways in which we can accomplish success and these are not mutually exclusive. One way is to establish a public-private Institute for Management Education at the national level that acts as both regulatory and professional body, consisting of practitioners and educationists who form a professional council. The second way is to bring standards in business research and publish evidence-based management practices. The national institute should pursue professional standards by adhering to higher vision of imparting the best business practices based on the most advanced research rather than on mere economic benefits. Curriculum review, productivity measurements, feedback systems comprise the hallmarks of accountability. It is not only the licensing and courses per se which are important, but the overall mind-set that effective management is dependent on advances in the field.
Schools that aim to become cornerstones of best management educations should distinguish themselves based on quality and standard of business research, in turn reviewed constantly by Institutes of national repute. The differentiating factor is business research that makes degrees more valuable and makes the students of management accountable too when they take up higher responsibilities in organizations. Business schools, which are supposed to be the leading source of business research, tend to focus on the functions of management inside the classroom. There is nothing wrong in hiring industry experts and practitioners as visiting faculty, but these instructors should be able to support evidence-based management otherwise their influence becomes inspiring and enjoyable but lacking in strong foundations of business training. Practitioners must be able to draw on knowledge that is based on consistent data and a strong technical approach that can be infused in schools and organizations.
Finally, in a world of business complexities, the proof and strength of management education lies in its power of accountability.