Senior Advisor & Campus Head, IBS Mumbai
TYPICALLY an MBA programme, by whatever title it is called, is meant for those who have studied a particular discipline and would like to make a career in an organisation. Since business stands centre stage in the present day world, the students generally aspire to a career in a business or industrial organisation which will offer good compensation, worthwhile work and growth opportunities.
Considering that business organisations are keen to move their business up by recruiting professionally qualified manpower with some degree of self leadership ability, the MBA programme provides them a convenient and cost effective avenue for meeting their requirements for connecting education with work life.
Drawing on various disciplines, the MBA programme is a ‘vestibule’ programme that prepares the students to face the challenges of business world by developing them not only through discipline-based knowledge but also through development of skills - both hard and soft skills. It is thus an applied programme designed to help students in developing them for careers in business and other organizations. The various disciplines are brought to converge on applied understanding of the business world and its problems so that the students can acquire the ability for decision making, coordination and team work.
From this stand point, it is essential to distinguish an MBA programme from discipline-based Master’s Degree programmes, in that it requires elements of ‘academic education’ and also ‘training and development’.
If that be the nature and purpose of MBA, one wonders if Management Schools require PhD as essential qualification for Faculty. A PhD, by its very nature is an attempt to make an addition to the already existing pool of knowledge. So to be effective, especially in the management field, the PhD must be one that examines a core problem the discipline or organisation faces and attempt to contextualise and draw out solutions. In other words, unless the PhD is rooted in the industrial or business milieu it seeks to change or improve, its practical application is minimal.
Consequently the students invariably find the PhD boring and out of touch with realtiy. More over, the quality of Doctoral work needs to be particularly scrutinised in appointing Faculty as it varies much too widely across the Universities in India. There are colleges which offer PhD awards, with little or no course work.
The focus in any Management Programme will have to be on building a sound knowledge base, the skills of analysis, creativity, communication and team work, apart from other technical and relational skills. Considering that Education is a blend of Education and Training, a mix of good PhD’s and professionals with exposure to industry would perhaps be more desirable for Management Education at the Master’s level. Invariablly, with their ear to ground, a practising professional at least would be able to impart the right skillsets that are essential for surviving the corporate life which an MBA encounters. And in the absence of appropriate, scholars, a practising professional is a much better bet.