A friend of mine pursuing PhD from IIT Powai keeps me on the toe most of the times. His views are thought provoking. The other day I was chatting with him and we started discussing applicability of management degree in Indian context. Though we couldn’t talk much, here are my views on the topic.
In my two years of grinding at one of the prestigious management school, I have studied and solved more than 100 case studies apart from the regular curriculum. Case study is best way of teaching as it gives insights to numerous factors integrated with each other. It is like practical examples getting solved in class rooms, hence giving exposure to real life scenario. If I retrospect, the case studies mostly dealt with American and European MNCs chasing and expanding at various geographies worldwide. It focused on issues that they faced while expanding overseas. How some xyz company has changed the landscape, or changed the face of an industry. From McDonald’s supply Chain issues, South-West Airlines game changing strategy to Wal-mart, Coca cola and Nestlé’s Maggi... mostly the cases were about developed countries and issues faced by such countries. The cases dealt with subject including strategies, stern labour laws, supply chain, merger and acquisitions, branding, positioning, managing working capital, capital budgeting, etc. The depth and breadth was very wide.
Yet it somewhere missed the Indian story. I am not able to recall all the cases, but I did study few cases which dealt with companies like the Unilever and P&G and few others, entering in Indian markets. I think Big Bazaar could be a great case study in itself. No one taught or thought of creating a hyper market with stuff arranged in chaotic manner to give it an “Indian bazaar” look, the way Indians like to shop. The success of Café Coffee Day is keeping world biggies like Starbucks at bay restricting its entry into the Indian markets. The positioning, location of the outlets and the youth appeal has seen the brand become stronger and stronger. The pricing is perfect; the management knows how much a college student’s pocket can afford. Haldiram’s is another case in point for strategies revolving around sales and distribution. You go to any place in India, on any railway station and you would find a Haldiram’s namkeen packet. Parle is another example for that matter. BCCI -the money minting machine dominating the world of Cricket, Indian railways, IPL, Chanakya neeti, Reliance Industries refinery plant, Tata Nano, the dabba walas, the networking of locals in Mumbai, etc. There are many many Indian examples which are worth studying giving great insights into various aspects.
I think we need to focus on how corporates of foreign origin deal with various issues when they try to expand in difficult geographies. They teach us how to handle language and cultural barriers, how to localize and keep pace with grow. Sitting in class room, we get to know challenges in growing business in countries like the US, France, Germany or Australia for that matter. It definitely gives exposure of world class and our thought process becomes much more informed. We become globalize and think as a global manager. We dissect strategies of Wal-mart, we find follies, think out of box and present the case to the class and submit our recommendations. We say that the company should have done these things and they could have saved these many million dollars additionally. I have my self submitted a research report comparing the strategies of Jack Welch, ex-CEO of General Electric and Jeff Immlet, the present CEO of GE. It was appreciated but it remained on papers. Had I studied JRD Tata’s vision and Mr. Ratan Tata’s vision and submitted it, possibility of its application would have increased. I work in an Indian MNC and I hardly apply what lessons I learnt during my management studies. Though the outlook is global. it is macro in nature. The skills developed are utilized but I see a huge gap between what is taught and what is applied.
The percentage exposure needs to shift a bit. If the proportion of content shifts from developed counties to developing nations the applicability would increase at work place. Our thoughts will be more realistic. We will think and innovate with some practicality in it. The second fastest growing economy is vast and diverse and a difficult market to operate in. It is religious by nature dominated by middle class psyche, divided into rural-semi urban and urban markets, the demography mix is unique. The consumer is cautious as information has empowered him and expects a lot from the manufacturers/ service providers. The youth is modern in outlook yet its core values are very much rooted. Somewhere that Indian heart beats loud. The number of Indian brands nurtured domestically knocking at the global level to get recognized; even the fastest growing economy cannot match.
fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: Every case study, irrespective of the geography, company or subject it deals with, hones the skills to match the corporate requirements. But if the curriculum increases share of case studies enumerating Indian scenario or scenarios from developing nations, may be from 15% of all case studies to 40%, the young guns would relate to it more. It will help in channelizing thoughts with lot more practicality and applicability.