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Does Business Get What It Needs From Business Schools?

Does Business Get What It Needs From Business Schools?

Business schools have long since been the centre of learning the essential skills and expertise in the field of business and management. The theoretical foundations provided by these schools shape young business graduates who later on become the cornerstones of business. This makes it essentially imperative for the business to have substantial attentiveness in the kind of knowledge offered by the business schools and the schools to have hands-on understanding of the business needs.

Schools today have taken the first step by sorting out those who are ambitious and more energetic, who have taken the initiative to learn the skills required for business, and who subject themselves to two years of extensive study with no income. The industry has taken a step from their side to employ these graduates. But, a certain gap has been constantly felt in between these two steps. The industry has always felt that there is skill crisis when it comes to unemployment while institutions feel that there is a job crisis, thus ensuring that the paradox of high employment and a war for talent continues. This article focuses on understanding what does the gap exactly means, the various schools of thoughts that discusses this gap between industry and institution and concludes with some strategies that can be employed by the Indian industries and institutions to bridge the same.

What is the gap?

Industry has always critiqued that recent graduates from business schools possess knowledge that is too academic that have little significance in the real-time business scenario. The industry employers feel that graduates need to have specialised knowledge aapart from having Communication Skills, Computer Skills, Interpersonal Skills, Listening Skills, and other Soft Skills that differentiate the business graduates from one another. But what they find are MBA graduates who are not exposed to the multicultural, fast-paced and high-risk inclined job and hence forcing the industries to engage in training activities. Here lies the gap between the industries and the institutions, as industries believe that business schools should have trained the graduates to be work-ready, while the institutes believe that industry should train the graduates to have strong theoretical and academic knowledge of business skills which would be honed further with experience and exposure to industries. And the crux of this problem is that the beliefs of both the institutes and the industry are justified.

What causes the gap?

One of the prominent reasons for the gap is the minimalistic nature of communication between the industry and institutions. The curriculum of the business schools are not extensively tailored to fulfil the needs of the business as the academics have little idea of what the industry wants. Hence, the curriculum is drafted with importance given to the research and academic learning overlooking the practical learning necessary to master the trade. This can be traced back to the dramatic shift in the culture of the business schools. During the past, the business schools were more in line of trade schools teaching the students the practical applications of business practices. Over the course of time, business schools have started focusing on creating knowledge through research. The quality of research started pushing the business schools ahead in the ranking thus making the business curriculum very academic. This has led the business schools to adopt the scientific model of teaching. This is in stark contrast to other professional schools like the school of medicine and the law school where practicing is given utmost importance. Also, the professors in the business school are mostly academics thus imparting knowledge in the lines of academia. Most professors have little relevant practical knowledge of business and thus are unable to train young graduates ready to handle the complexities of real business world. One of the prominent gaps between the institution and the industry is in the area of decision making. The institution trains the young minds to decide based on the results of studies conducted in the academic settings while the industry faces entirely different set of parameters while making decisions.

Another important reason for the increasing gap between institution and industry is the growing similarity in the MBA structure of various universities. Almost all the MBA courses taught in the country are similar to one another. To ensure, the graduates are differentiated from the peers, universities must design a much specialised and much focused MBA curriculum.

The other side of the coin- business industry- is equally to be blamed. In spite of always complaining that the business graduates are not business ready, the industry always picks and offers a fat pay for the students from the same institute. If the business school finds support from business industry on what they are doing, then they would no doubt assume that the industry is pleased with what their school has to offer. It is high time, the industry shares with schools what it wants exactly from them.

How to bridge the gap?

Communication is the key to bridge the rising gap between industry and the business schools. Industry should concentrate on what is being taught in the schools and should be more involved in modelling the curriculum. Most importantly, industry should encourage its experienced leaders and managers to get back to school either as visiting faculty or as students themselves so that business leaders become part of the education system.

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On the other side of the coin, business schools must encourage the academia to gain sufficient industry exposure. It can either be encouraged through simultaneous practice or sponsored practice as is the norm in the medicinal industry or the law or psychology or any other professional courses.

The industry and institute must work together to enrich each other. Industry can provide industrial exposure to the students by offering internship program to the students of the institutes that teaches business students the required skill set for that industry in question. For example, an engagement between an institute that offers MBA concentrating on leadership in say textile industry and textile industry would benefit both the institute and the industry. The industry can get involved in the curriculum design of the business program, encourage its senior managers and leaders to take up teaching, invest in the research of the business school that focuses on finding the solutions faced by textile industry explicitly and mould the students in to future leaders in textile industry. The institute can increase its quality of research due to exposure obtained from the industry in real time. The entire learning settings can be a mini version of the industry thus training the students to become industry ready when they graduate. One of the immediate flaws noticeable in this arrangement would be that the graduates would not be industry ready for other industries. But then, so would a student who graduated from the generic business degree. This professional model of education, instead of the scientific model of study, would in essence increase the skill set of the students in a particular industry thus increasing the employability of the students.

The current climate of liberalisation, globalisation and privatisation has created an arena where students as the gladiators have be at the top of their game with skill sets that differentiates them in their chosen field. Industry and institutes, in the world of business, have the extremely important task of nurturing the talents that would be beneficial to all the stakeholders- the business, business schools, the students and the society. This calls for a more improved engagement between all the stakeholders and abridging the gap between business schools and business is the first step towards it.

About the Author

Brinda Manivannan is a result driven business and engineering graduate with professional experience in Business Analysis (Information Technology) Business Operations Analysis (Research Operations)and more. The author could be reached at manivannan.brinda@gmail.com