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Management Education Powering Development

Posted By Guy Pfeffermann, Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Guy PfeffermannI 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 conditions.

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.

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