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Business Schools facing a mid-life crisis: Dr Jagdish Sheth 

Panel Discussion on The Business School in the Twenty First Century And Book Launch


How can Business Schools regain their relevance in fast changing business world of 21st Century? How can they reinvent themselves to reclaim their status, identity and legitimacy? Well known management guruDr Jagdish Sheth (, Prof. Howard Thomas ( and Prof Peter Lorange (, debated this topic on January 8 at a panel discussion organized by BIMTECH, and Cambridge University Press in New Delhi. The panel discussion was motivated by the book ‘The Business School in the Twenty First Century – Emergent Challenges and New Business Models’, published by Cambridge University Press.


home pageBusiness Schools in the US are going through a mid-life crisis and need an alternative business model. If Indian Business Schools don’t watch out, they are headed that way too unless they can do some reverse innovation. But that can happen only by law in India. Those are Professor Jagdish Sheth views, and his views count for a lot.


The globally renowned professor of marketing at Emory University who completed 50 years as a B-school teacher in the United States last year and has some seminal works such as Rule of Three, the 4 As of Marketing as well as a hard-hitting new book on management education “The Business School in the Twenty First Century – Emergent Challenges and New Business Models” was speaking at a panel discussion at Indian International University organized by Cambridge University Press, Birla Institute of Management Technology and

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According to Dr Sheth, the crisis in management education has come about because the profile of the student entering Business Schools has changed as well as the careers they are opting for once they complete their MBA course. The curriculum, however, has not been adapted to suit the new reality.


When Business Schools first came up, they were designed for engineers who would seamlessly move into corporations. But today, there are as many students from liberal arts joining the MBA course and most B-School graduates opt for careers in investment banking or management consultancies. “Seventy five per cent of MBAs in the US go on to management consultancies and investment banking and the curriculum was never designed for this,” said Dr Sheth.


According to him, that trend is catching on in India too with 15 per cent of MBA graduates going into these two streams. In marketing, the curriculum on branding taught today has become irrelevant as what is needed is grounding in social media and digital marketing but the faculty has no clue about these subjects, said Dr Sheth. Not one to mince words, Dr Sheth said that the MBA course just taught the vocabulary of the industry and did not transfer any indepth knowledge.


While Dr Sheth and the two co-authors of his book Professor Peter Lorange, former President of IMD Switzerland who has now set up his own B-School, Lorange Institute and Professor Howard Thomas, Dean of Singapore Management University pointed out what ailed the global B-schools, Dr D K Bandopadhyay, former V C of Indraprastha University, Dr Raj Dhankar, Dean of Faculty of Management Studies and Dr H Chaturvedi, Director, BIMTECH pointed out the critical challenges facing Business Schools in India.


2Dr Dhankar presented the immediate scenario of Indian as well as global business education and also connected it with some of the issues as pointed in the book on the quality of teaching, quality of research and commercialisation of the business education. Dr Bandyopadhyay pointed out on the theoretical foundation of the programme and need of real accreditation and regulatory systems and not the way it is followed in Asian countries.


Responding to a leading question by Amit Agnihotri, Chairman, who moderated the session, Professor Sheth said, “Regulation, policy and accreditation came up as a key challenge for Indian B-schools. Faculty shortage was also escalating the crisis. Dr Sheth pointed out the sharp differences in approach between China and India in tackling this issue. While China had invested in sending candidates for doctoral programmes abroad to meet its faculty needs, India had adopted ad-hoc methods of dealing with the issue. “It’s a very myopic approach,” said Dr Sheth.


ourstory2Speaking from the Singapore Management University (SMU) campus via a video link, Dr Howard Thomas said, “The business schools have still not gained acceptance from businesses and are often treated with skepticism and sometimes contempt by others in the university system. The challenge for business school educators is to arrive at a new framework with respect to positioning, knowledge creation and knowledge dissemination.”

Dr Howard Thomas is the Dean and LKCSB Chair in Strategic Management at the Lee Kong Chian School of Business, Singapore Management University. He was the Dean of Warwick Business School for a decade (2000-10).


Addressing the meet from the Lorange Institute of Business in Zurich, Dr Lorange said, “The future of management education lies in creating a new model that is based on leveraging education technology that taps the vast networks of professionals and knowledge that are outside the current MBA system. New MBA programs should be modular in nature. This innovation will allow candidates to work full-time while getting education. A lot of other innovations are possible to create the new model.”


Dr Lorange is the President of the Lorange Institute of Business, Zurich, and is one of the world’s foremost business school academics. He is Professor of Strategy at IMD, Switzerland, and was the President of IMD (1993-2008).


Despite the challenges, Dr Sheth however said he was optimistic that Business Schools in India would find an alternative model. His own model: to create the IITs of B-school by investing in an undergraduate 10+2+5 model for management education. Of this, he said in the five years, the first two years should be spent studying the liberal arts – the classics, philosophy and history. “This would teach the business leader of the future to be a humanist first,” he said.


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