Sunday, February 22, 2009

Arguing for an Asian model of Management Education ..

While entertaining some of the Chinese and Brazilian B-School Professors who were in our Institute over the past two weeks, a couple of statements were made by them leaving us to arrive at a conclusion. The statements were like this :

Statement I : The top twenty Business Organisations in the world are managed by managers trained at the top ten B-Schools in the world.

Statement II : Most of these top twenty organisations are presently in utter doldrums..

What is the natural conclusion we can arrive at from the two statements ?

Whether it is by deduction or induction, it questions the systems of management education in the West, which is causing large organisations of the world to come crashing.

This was a major point made out by the Professors from some of the top Bschools in the BRICS countries when they recently met at the Xavier Institute of Management and En'ship in Bangalore, India during the last week of January 2009. The time has come to think loud about the adoption and acceptance of the very nascent Asian system of management education.

The management education in Asia has been copied to a large extent from the west with minor variation for contextual alignment to suit the societal changes required of the advances of the Industrial Revolution in the West. That does not mean it is implemented blindly without any adjustments to go with the ethos of the adopting Asian country. Writers like Charu Rangnekar has written extensively on the lighter side of life, about the specialities of the Indian style of Management.

The traditional knowledge, practices and customs which have merged or morphed into modern Indian Management styles have found itself in systems of management education being taught at Bschools and practiced in organisations in Indian and China.

It is this modified Asianised version of management education that has withstood the test of time during the past three four years, the test of simple greed, excessive speculation and ethical vaccuum.

Actions of organisations and managers in China and India have been value based from the traditions and customs in place for thousands of years. Concern for the fellow human beings has been among the most over-riding factors in these countries. Though globalisation has ensured that the ill-effects of the economic slowdown has not spared other countries of the world, the constant reminders of the political leaders in India not to cut jobs, but instead cut pay, is a stark reminder of the concerns of the society of any social unrest from such actions. Herein lies the difference why the present economic slowdown has had less severe impact on the India and Chinese economies.

We find in the US, greedy CEOs and top managers running away with bonuses and hefty pay packets when their organisations are bleeding and employees are being laid off. We should remember that the same company without any remorse is begging and borrowing public tax money money from the government. A clear case of "privatising profits and socialising losses", to quote from The Econpomist. Though I do not wish to go into the merits or otherwise of the political systems in place in these countries, it is the lack of ethics and values in day-to-day dealings of the managers trained at the top B-schools and the organisations they represent, which have resulted in this sad and shameful state of affairs presently.

This apparent value-less management education system needs to change, if the West needs to catch up with the rest of the world.

Can the Asian model of business education be an able and viable alternative to take the country into the new age of prosperity and inclusive growth ??

Let us think loud. Comments and suggestions are welcome..

Dr George Easaw
XIME, Bangalore.

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