Pop goes the professor

     Print Edition: Nov 14, 2010

Any decent bookstore in India today has stacks of management books, either evergreen bestsellers by the likes of Michael Porter and the late Peter Drucker, or by unknown authors culling words of wisdom into bullets of fast food. In between, there are books by sundry senior managers or B-school professors who may or may not have written a gem. The first category is the safest, and these books are good to display on your shelf at home or office. The fast food is at best good for a short flight. As for the middle range, you may have plonked down a thousand bucks for wisdom that has no Indian context.

Now, Random House India has come up with the idea of getting professors of the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, to write a series of easy-to-read books aimed at the general reader and junior and middle managers who may not have a B-school diploma. To be released in batches of four titles a year, the book jackets have a uniform design and are branded with the IIM-A logo and the catchline "Strategies for Success". So, if you read one and like it, you are likely to pick up the next title blind, rather like picking up books in a 'Teach Yourself ' series.

Chiki Sarkar, editor in chief of Random House India, says the series will mark the golden jubilee of IIM-A, apart from being the first such venture into publishing by any IIM. The first four titles are: How to be a Better Manager, by Prof T.V. Rao; The Persuasive Manager, by Prof M. Monippally; Strategies for Growth, by Prof A. Ghosh, and Business and Intellectual Property, by Prof A. Agarwal.

Almost every educated Indian is aware of the IIMs, and the IIM-A usually figures at the top of all B-school rankings. The faculty of the IIMs, however, remain unknown to all but those who were lucky enough to study under them. For the general reader, then, this series promises to be a good read. As for the content, the most important thing for readers is the extensive use of Indian case studies and anecdotes. This alone should make the books invaluable for professional managers, entrepreneurs without an MBA, and even the general reader. And the books are amazingly affordable.

But considering the talent residing in the IIM chain, why not a series for professionals, books that can become the standard reference for Indian MBA students? IIM-A could even think of creating an imprint like the Harvard Business Review Press of Harvard Business School. After all, there are plenty of India case studies but few people have narrated them with professional authority. And it is time we got a hold on our intellectual property.

-Somnath Dasgupta


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