I want to thank all our friends who made
the Delhi conference such a huge success. First of all our academic
partner, Bibek Banerjee and his indefatigable and talented Institute of
Management Technology, Ghaziabad team; our sponsors –
Mahindra&Mahindra, Godrej Industries, HDFC Bank, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women,
the International Finance Corporation, the Chandaria Foundation, GMAC,
MBA Universe and SIFE India, as well as all the speakers, panelists and
participants from 34 countries.
This conference was about management
education powering development. How does management education do that?
And why was India a special place to consider the question?
At the most general level, good
management education should enhance efficiency and effectiveness in
organizations in which their alumni work. Increasingly, these include
not only corporations but also small enterprises, health service
providers public and private and civil society organizations. The
worldwide waste of resources attributable to poor management has not
been quantified, but I would be very surprised if it weren’t of the same
order of magnitude as the cost to society of corruption. Core business
school offerings can help reduce this colossal waste.
At a more specific level, especially at a
time of worldwide economic slowdown, the potential of barely-tapped
domestic markets commands attention. Indian businesses, government and
civil society have moved farther ahead than almost any other country,
certainly any country of comparable size, in focusing on the
base-of-the-pyramid. Considering the parlous growth prospects in the US,
Europe and Japan, and the slowdown in China, these countries might do
worse than learning from India how to develop these markets. Greater
inclusion may, in fact, be a palliative to adverse macroeconomic
Business schools are the natural allies
of government in training students in the highly complex skills needed
in order to grow these internal markets. In a nutshell, product
innovation is only a first step. Effective marketing and servicing of
base-of-the-pyramid goods and services are of the essence, and require
very different skill sets, including analyses of the optimal
partnerships with rural organizations, which development-oriented
business schools can impart.
This is a big challenge to many business
schools in whatever country. Last month I was listening to Sir Ken
Robinson’s keynote speech at a conference of the AACSB, the main US
business school accreditation agency. His point was very simple.
Educational systems tend to be standardized, when development requires
imagination, creativity and problem-solving skills. In the words of
Srikant Datar, knowledge is only useful if it melds with the ability to
get things done as well as the ethical values he calls "being”. Alas,
much of academia is rooted in a town-versus-gown paradigm that goes back
to the Victorian era and even farther.
You will find more information about the conference at www.gbsnonline.org/2012.
Mark your calendars for next year:
June 10-12, GBSN will celebrate its tenth anniversary in North Africa at
the invitation of the Mediterranean School of Business, Tunis.Guy Pfeffermann is the CEO and founder of the Global Business School Network.