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Published on: Dec. 14, 2020, 2:41 p.m.
Bring fresh ideas
  • MBA graduates need to be prepared to follow constant changes in the market or risk the possibility of being left behind

By Sandeep Sancheti. The author is provost, Marwadi University, Rajkot, and former president, Association of Indian Universities

The era of globalisation and evolutions in information technology, the creation of new knowledge is changing the world rapidly, with all building blocks, including higher education and, in particular, the masters in business administration programme (popularly known as MBA), getting reshaped. It goes without saying that the rehauling of higher education system at regular intervals is essential to not only embed but also to exploit the changing scenarios. Graduates in the MBA programme cater to a diverse and extensive cross section of businesses and services. Hence, they need to be nurtured with fresh ideas and approaches. The bottom line to all this is that MBA graduates need to be prepared to follow constant changes in the market or risk the possibility of being left behind.

In recent times, we have often been talking about ‘revamping’ the existing scheme of things. With this understanding comes different perspective on what exactly needs to be done with the MBA programmes that are being offered. Essentially, four things need to be kept in mind in going through this exercise: mapping business practices in light of the digital age; the inclusion of globalisation as a standard aspect of management education – that is, bringing up newer business models encompassing globalisation as its functional aspect; changing the pedagogy to meet the requirements and demands of ‘Generation Z’; and finally, the executive or in-service MBA to be defined properly and made more attractive.

There are a few suggestions made about the need of MBA 2.0 terminology but without reflecting on the fact that industry and education are already at 4.0 and MBA too should be at that level even if earlier versions have not been adequately addressed. What is even higher degree of urgency is better nomenclature in defining MBA courses as, for instance, the earlier postgraduate diploma in management (PGDM) created enough confusion by way of equivalences and acceptances in the market. Though IIMs and other institutions have moved on to award MBAs, difficulties continue to remain as a large number of stand-alone institutions are still giving out PGDMs.

There is also some discussion as to whether academic institutions should stay with the ‘plain’ MBA or opt for more esoteric versions of the degree and programme. The underlying notion is that the ‘plain’ MBA may have lost its value in a rapidly changing environment. In my view, the fascination with a ‘plain’ MBA need not necessarily be over, for the degree is still perceived as a foundation or stepping stone for many non-specialisations or businesses with multiple specialisations that seek management professionals, who have the ability to think in a myriad of ways. In addition to the conventional specialisations like marketing, finance and human resources, etc, newer specialisations are catching on so as to better equip the graduates in context of new business world. Some of these new courses may include business analytics, digital marketing, social entrepreneurship, sustainable development, hospital administration, media management and sports management, to mention a few.

In any discourse on management courses or programmes, the topic always come up on integrated MBA that was the trend-setter a decade or so back but somehow lost its sheen due to regulatory requirements, especially in terms of time compression. But today we are once again at the cusp of redefining education with more flexibility, diversity and other features. Hence, integrated MBA courses are the order of the day. In the view of this writer, an integrated MBA with a four-year undergraduate programme can be for a total period of five years; and, for a three-year undergraduate programme, an integrated MBA can be for four-and-a-half years. Further, it is absolutely essential that, in addition to engineering programmes, all other existing verticals of higher education such as BA, BSc, Bcom, BBA and BCA should also move forward to offer such integrated MBA programmes to provide better qualifications and job opportunities.

Finally, at the end of the day, there is always the question whether MBA graduates make good entrepreneurs? Seen in one way, it could be a pompous assumption for the simple reason that being an entrepreneur is not the proprietorship of a single domain or specialisation. In fact, entrepreneurship is nothing but a mindset, together with the ability for risk-taking.

Both these factors not hinged on a fact whether a person is a graduate or not. In reality, a large fraction of the world’s leading entrepreneurs are not necessarily graduates and, hence, a degree in management can only be considered as a value addition for entrepreneurship. But, like always, there is an exception that with a proper base of domain knowledge, a management graduate can be better equipped as an ‘entrepreneur’ and more effective as ‘intrapreneur’ in her chosen areas of business and activity.


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