Business Today

The global itch

More and more B-schools are thinking global affiliations or a presence overseas to stay relevant in a borderless marketplace.

By Pallavi Srivastava        Print Edition: Sept 23, 2007

The top Indian B-schools are eating their own dog food. Even as they churn out young managers for a global market- place, the leading management institutes are walking the chalk and looking for ways to become more global themselves.

Most of them have been teaching (old, but) global case studies for years now, but a more complex and global business environment and demanding students and recruiters are forcing them to not just 'globalise' their curricula, but also tie up with B-schools and corporations elsewhere in the world. The idea: create managers who are ready for an increasingly 'flat' world.

Xavier Labour Relations Institute (XLRI) in Jamshedpur was probably the first Indian B-school to set up a campus overseas. The institute, best known for its hr programme, began offering an executive education programme in collaboration with the Al Abbas Institute of Technology in Dubai way back in 2001.

And early last year, it opened a campus in Singapore in alliance with Image International, which offers Post Graduate Programmes (MBA equivalent) of XLRI, mirrored as it is in Jamshedpur. To maintain academic excellence and to instill XLRI value systems, the faculty comes from Jamshedpur to teach.

Institute of Management Technology (IMT) in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, too, established its first foreign campus in Dubai in September 2006, while the Management Development Institute (MDI) in Gurgaon is in advanced talks with the government of Qatar to open a branch in the capital city of Doha. There are other B-schools such as the SP Jain Institute of Management & Research that have campuses in Singapore and Dubai.

If these two locations seem to be the hot spots for Indian B-schools, it's because they offer a large population of young professionals who can be tapped for management programmes.

Missing from this global B-school roll-out are the government-controlled Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs). Blame the government. Until the year before last, for example, IIM-Bangalore was all set to open a campus in Singapore, when the Human Resources Development Ministry-which oversees the IIMs, besides other government-aided educational institutions-pulled the plug, stating that the IIMs must first cater to the domestic demand before tapping markets abroad.

It relented early last year, but only to say that the IIMs must first amend their memoranda of association (MoAs), since their existing charter does not provide for global forays. As things stand, it may be several years before the first IIM campus comes up abroad.

Beyond the border

Meanwhile, the IIMs are focussing on making their curricula more global and contemporary. IIM-A offers courses in mergers & acquisitions, social entrepreneurship, and something called India Unincorporated, which deals with regulatory environment, savings and investment trends in India, alternative investments like gold and property, need for new regulations in stock market etc.

IIM-Lucknow (IIM-L) even offers a course on carbon markets, given that clean development has become a major issue and companies are looking for ways to capitalise on their green initiatives. That apart, IIM-L teaches its MBA students international finance and economics, cross-cultural management, and it and process outsourcing, among others.

Some others like the Delhi-based Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) are paying more attention to original research to offer courses that are better grounded in contemporary issues. Thus, it has a Centre for WTO Studies, a Centre for International Trade in Technology, a Centre for SME Studies, and now a Centre for Consumer Studies.

The findings of the research studies are built into the courseware. "Even our electives are driven by changes in the market and the course curriculum itself is drawn up after thorough discussions with experts and inputs from students," says Satinder Bhatia, Chairperson, Graduate Studies, IIFT.

At the Symbiosis Institute of Business Management (SIBM) in Pune, the focus is on collaborations with leaders in specific industry to tap contemporary body of knowledge. For instance, it has a tie-up with the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) that has resulted in two modules designed for its first-year students of finance. The modules cover regulatory environment and compliances. "We collaborate with leading organisations so that there is a global focus and a global approach," says Arun Mudbidri, Director, SIBM.

Exchange programmes are also popular tools of creating more globally-oriented B-school graduates. Consider the Faculty of Management Studies (FMS) of the Delhi University. It has exchange programmes with not one or two, but 11 institutions around the world, including the University of California, Berkley, Insead of France, and University Blefield, Germany.

FMS recently also launched a programme called Global Alumni Meeting and Academic Advising (GAMAA) aimed at tapping the expertise and talent of its alumni spread across the world. "GAMAA would mean that we can tap our alumni even on a week-to-week basis for problem solving and knowledge sharing," says J.K. Mitra, Head and Dean, FMS. "It would go a long way in expanding the inflow of global management and thought into our programmes."

Just like the young managers they graduate, B-schools will need to be on the ball to stay relevant in a marketplace that's merging.

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