In the spotlight

K.R. Balasubramanyam        Print Edition: September 4, 2011

Divesh Sawhney and Jithu Krishnan, final year students at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, may soon have some tips for the Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP. Their case study 'Revitalising the Brand BJP among the Young and the Educated' seeks to understand why young and educated people - the ones the party targets for votes - are indifferent to voting.

"We are gathering data now, and will analyse why they are disinterested in the political process," says Krishnan. They chose the BJP because "it is the principal opposition party, whose performance in Parliament has been below expectations".

CHECK OUT:Full list of 2011 rankings of Best B-Schools

Their project has generated some interest in the institute because of its novelty. Sawhney's and Krishnan's project may be an outlier even by out-of-the-box standards, but greater emphasis on research is one of the factors that led up to IIM Bangalore's return to the top slot in BT's B-school survey after nine years. Other initiatives in the past couple of years include a new postgraduate executive education programme and a revamp of its doctoral programme.

Members of the bike enthusiasts' club, Anveshan, tool around on campus
Members of the bike enthusiasts' club, Anveshan, tool around on campus
"We are pushing the boundaries to answer questions about India through research," says Pankaj Chandra, Director, IIM Bangalore. In March this year, the institute signed a deal with Harvard Business Publishing, or HBP, agreeing to supply teaching cases developed by its faculty.

The deal signals global recognition of the quality of research at IIM Bangalore. The institute is the only Indian one to make it to HBP's list, which includes elite B-schools such as Stanford, Kellogg and Darden. HBP has already distributed a dozen of its cases globally.

WATCH what IIM-B students say about their alma mater

Conscious that only path-breaking research can help it match the highest global standards, IIM Bangalore is handing out cash incentives to raise the quality of its research. Faculty members get Rs 5 lakh or Rs 3 lakh each, depending on whether their papers are published in an A or B category journal. "There has been a big jump in the number of papers published, compared with five years ago," says U. Dinesh Kumar, Chairperson, Research and Publications. The institute has given away more than Rs 1 crore in the past three years.

It also recently overhauled its PhD offering, called the Fellow Programme in Management, or FPM. "Our data shows that we are the first choice of people who want to do a PhD in India," says Trilochan Sastry, Dean (Academic), with a hint of pride. "Those we unfortunately can't admit join other IIMs."

IIM Bangalore enjoys some advantages over its peers. It is in a city that is well connected by road, rail and air, is cosmopolitan, and has a pleasant climate. Besides, Bangalore has an information technology ecosystem that makes it easier to hire and retain teachers, as their spouses also have a good chance of finding well-paying jobs. These factors have raised the quality of the faculty. Chandra says he wants to leverage strengths such as local science and technology institutes.

Sumit Bedi, brand manager of Naukri.com, and IIM-B alumnus shares his memories


"Technology-driven entrepreneurship is a very strong area for us. We want to see how we can help with innovation at the Indian Institute of Science or elsewhere, and then take it to the marketplace," he says. With regard to teaching, the institute does not want to be seen as a producer of managers only for corporate India. In fact, when it was set up in 1973, the aim was to supply managers to publicsector enterprises. "We are probably the only institution with a core course called 'Business, Government and Society'," says Chandra.

Two years ago, to drive home that message, the institute laid down an incentive policy. "If any of our students work in a social enterprise, NGO or public office for at least three years, we will refund their fee," says Chandra. "If they want, let them go and work for libraries, museums, social organisations and the like, and follow their passion, regardless of the wages."

A few years ago, the institute suffered a setback when the government scuppered its ambition of setting up a campus in Singapore. The global ambitions remain, but the institute wants to pursue only those initiatives that advance its capabilities in research on and understanding of Asia. "We are exploring global partnerships not only in Singapore, but also in the Middle East," says Chandra. "We are also thinking of setting up a centre in Shanghai for case-writing and research."

IIM Bangalore has a corpus of about Rs 100 crore, and has launched a campaign to raise funds from alumni and companies. "The nextgeneration education model driven by high-quality research will have to be funded through endowments," says Chandra. "Our estimate is that IIM Bangalore will require at least Rs 700 crore to become one of the high-impact research institutes of the world." He adds that he hopes to raise this money over the next five years. If funds do follow reputation, IIM Bangalore may be unstoppable.

(How to read our parameter-wise tables: Respondents were given the option of ranking each college on each attribute on a 1 to 10 scale, with 1 corresponding to very poor/completely unwilling and 10 corresponding to excellent/most willing. We have displayed here only those responses that were rated 9 or 10. Our top-ranked school, IIM-Bangalore, for instance, shows a reputation score of 37.  This means that 37 per cent of respondents gave IIM-B a score of 9 or 10 for its reputation. Similarly, for other scores. Although the tables reflect these higher rankings (the upper two boxes of our dataset), our overall B-school ranking takes into account all scores, even the lower ones.)

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