Business Today

Time To Rely More On Experiential Learning

"Management schools must, therefore, in his view, "rely more than before on projects, experiential learning and internships."
twitter-logo E Kumar Sharma   New Delhi     Print Edition: December 2, 2018
Time To Rely More On Experiential Learning
Photograph by Shailesh Raval

Professor Ashish Nanda is a faculty member at Harvard Business School where he had joined the Strategy Unit as Senior Lecturer in 2017. From 2013 to 2017, he was Director of Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. He currently chairs the Strategy Teaching Group in the MBA Required Curriculum. Nanda, in an e-mail interview with Business Today's E. Kumar Sharma, says that to prepare their graduates for tomorrow's world, management schools must ensure that their students understand and appreciate the opportunities, challenges and nuances of technology and entrepreneurship. Traditional methods of classroom teaching, whether lectures or case discussions, he says, are not terribly effective in these two areas. Management schools must, therefore, in his view, "rely more than before on projects, experiential learning and internships." Edited excerpts follow:

Q. Management education today, some would argue, is good at producing business leaders for established and mature sectors and not quite for some of the new-age businesses where the line between a product and a service is blurred. In the light of this, how should management education change?

A. For the last few years, management school graduates globally have been gravitating towards two intersecting sectors: technology and entrepreneurship. Both have relatively greater risk profile than some of the established, mature sectors such as fast moving consumer goods and finance. But they offer significantly greater value generation opportunities as well. Business momentum is also increasingly influenced by these two sectors. To prepare their graduates for tomorrow's world, management schools must ensure that their students understand and appreciate the opportunities, challenges and nuances of technology and entrepreneurship.

Traditional methods of classroom teaching, whether lectures or case discussions, are not terribly effective in these two sectors. Management schools must rely more than before on projects, experiential learning and internships. As the nature of work is changing, so is the company's structure. There is a need to look at gender economics and equations, eliminating bias and a workforce that prefers a flexi work scenario.

Human capital is an increasingly critical contributor to enterprises, labour market mobility is increasing, and the younger generation is seeking meaning in the work it does. All these trends suggest that purpose-driven organisations with thick cultures anchored in strong values led by committed leaders will differentiate themselves and outperform others on the basis of these "soft" assets.

Q. How can schools provide that edge for a student to be better ready for the VUCA world that some call the new normal today?

A. Through their educational programmes, schools must encourage students to be decision oriented, responsive to external environment, and willing to change if circumstances so demand.

Q. As Indian companies go global, managers have to increasingly operate in different cultures... and what's acceptable in one isn't well received in another. How can management education address this challenge?

A. Understanding how different parts of the global economy interrelate and interact affords students the capability to succeed across borders. Exposure to different ways of organising and operating builds an appreciation of diversity. Therefore, if students experience management education that builds breadth of perspective, then as managers they are likely to succeed in varied contexts.

@EKumarSharma

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