B-School Surveys

PagalGuy.com (The best educational website in India) is in the process of surveying the best B-Schools in India based on the perception of the MBA community (For more information on the survey visit http://rankings.pagalguy.com ) . But how true do these surveys (any B-school survey) reflect upon the quality of B-schools? How are the perceptions skewed in India? Are perceptions really based on the quality of B-School? I hope I would be able to answer these questions in the coming few paragraphs of my blog.

For a highly informed MBA community, the perception about a B-School would be very close to the reality in terms of quality of the education, placements, student community and faculties. However, for a lesser informed MBA community which forms the majority of the MBA community (even in PagalGuy.com) perceptions would surely vary a lot from the reality. The placement figures play the most vital role in forming opinions about majority of the B-Schools. Furthering the argument I feel if B-Schools are surveyed on various parameters like placement, perception, faculty and infrastructure; the respondents being MBA community, one can observe the rankings based on all other parameters following rankings based on placement statistics with very few variations. Hence, I infer the better placement statistics of a B-School relative to other B-School better would be its perception in the years to come. Hence, any B-School with good placement stats should always project its placement stats in the advertising to attract the most MBA prospective flock (Marketing Gyan).

Propagandas and advertising can surely affect the opinions of the lesser informed MBA community. But the one which affects the most is the placements. And as per me, placements are not the best way to judge quality of the education, student community, infrastructure and faculties of a B-School. Hence, I believe a perception based survey cannot be used as the sole underlying principle to judge the quality of a B-School.

For prospective MBA students, the survey (in fact any survey for the matter) can only form a ground from which they can filter a few good B-Schools and then dig information about each of them and then come to a conclusion about whether the B-School is a good one or not. 


Money Minting Auto Rickshaws of Chennai

The video is an incident in which me like many other auto-rickshaw commuters in Chennai ended up paying much more than the stipulated amount (Metered Amount – Oops, meters do not work here). The extra amount one pays above the stipulated amount can vary somewhere from 10% to 100%. For new travellers, the extra amount a traveller pays can go upto 200%.

Traffic Meters are installed but are not used by the rickshaw drivers. The commuter needs to fix upon the fare before boarding the auto. Haggling with auto-rickshaws over the fare is an usual scene on the roads of Chennai. Haggling can be based upon your previous amount paid by you for the previous ride to the destination or based on some other commuters’ advice. Even, a day-to-day commuter cannot persuade the driver to agree upon the correct fare. Result – every rickshaw commuter pays much more than what he is supposed to.

I have payed an amount equivalent to the metered amount for the ride only once during my one year stay in Chennai. Thanks to a Tamil speaking person who haggled and argued with the rick-driver. For a non-Tamil speaker the job will be an Herculean Task, a task next to impossible as per my opinion. The only place from where you can board an auto which accepts metered amount is the railway station auto-rickshaw stand. Unlike any other metro-politan cities in India, where few auto-rickshaws stationed at airport or selected few locations charge sum above metered amount, the unfair practice is prevalent and practised by auto-rickshaw drivers of nearly every part of Chennai. Such unfair means practised by auto-rickshaw drivers are reported by newspapers frequently and by many society conscious writers. Many reports of “Auto-Rickshaws being owned by traffic police personnels and hence non-stringent implementation of meter usage by traffic police” have been floated by the media.”

Frequent tariff revisions are institutionalized by authorities to incentize and encourage meter implementation in Chennai. However, the implementing system has been loosely structured and red tapism has inflicted it badly as reported by the media causing an abysmal performance of the system. But, how can we get rid of this menace on roads?

Promotion and encouragement of public transport like State Transport Buses and Local Trains can help the authority confront the situation. For attracting and encouraging travellers to adopt public transport mode, a lot of investments to improve the condition of public transport needs to be made. The public transport needs to match commuters’ needs and expectations. One of the most important need of a rickshaw commuter is time limitations hence public transport also needs to strictly adhere to time deadlines to attract the commuters. Such a strategy of improving public transport system will be a multiple result oriented strategy leading to results viz decrease in road traffic, increase in government revenue, reduction in environmental hazards and monetary saving of commuters.

Indian MBA System

Today, MBA degree is undoubtedly the most famous degree in India. Thanks to the obscene packages (as one of my MBA faculty speaks of the packages) offered to most of the B-School graduates. Rising packages of IIMs and international placements constitue the headlines easily during the placement season. Many students are of the opinion that placements are the USPs of an MBA degree.

However, I am of a different opinion. I genuinely feel that the much hullabaloo (created due to placements) around the MBA degree has done much of a disservice to the student community than good to it. Nearly, every Engineer who passes out of E-School even before personally reading about the MBA program details offered by the institutes orients himself to join a B-School, forget about taking an exposure in the industry or understanding the fundamentals of business administration which should form the guideliness to form a decision to go for an MBA. The ultimate result of which is “A dissatisfied MBA graduate in his post-graduation tenure and finally a non-interested and relatively lesser competent manager than expected  passes into industry”.

Majority of the prospective students entering an MBA do it inorder to switch their career. But, as per my observation, these students are not fully aware of what they want to get into and tend to experiment a lot (Probably, I am one of them). One of the incident I would like to quote here is of one of the alumni of my institute who worked in IT industry wanted a switch, came for an MBA but later in the second year realised he wanted to pursue MBA in advertising which was not offered by the institute. I think the indecisiveness manytimes hits such students badly as was the case with my senior and thereby the student is not able to appreciate the program and design his curriculm (choose electives) to get benefitted from it the most.

Moreover, the Indian mentality of judging a students calibre on his ability to score reflects on the selection system of B-Schools. You would rarely find a 90 percentiler or 80 percentiler student making it to IIMs. But, at the same time you may find a 650 score getter making it to Harvard Business School. B-Schools tend to give more weightage to written scores and the underlying concept is to identify the best score not the best learner which is derivative of the Indian mentality of scoring more nor learning more. The same mentality percolates during the post-graduation tenure as well and the MBA graduates slog hard to get a higher score in the examination. According to many of the passed out MBA graduates, higher score does not necessarily reflect in depth subject knowledge and pragmatic approach.

Taking all of these aspects, I do feel Indian MBAs do not make great leaders. One of the Harvard Professors commented once about Indian MBA Managers “Indian MBA Managers can keep a well-doing business afloat or move upwards, however they cannot errect a dying business.

One of the panacea for the flaws in the MBA system of India which have been mentioned above can be pre-requisite work experience before joining MBA. The best B-Schools around the world have such pre-requisites of work experience. Work experience often lets a candidate understand the practical aspects of industry, clears confusion about career path and hence is able to appreciate the MBA program in a much better mode.

With various coaching institutes helping aspiring students to crack the tests and the GD/PIs, I feel somewhere the basic aptitude and intellegence of a candidate is not put into test in the present format of tests. Some of the institutes like ISB, G-LAKES, SPJIMR, SCMHRD, even IIMs have now adopted selection process in which the weightage given to written scores have come down and resume evaluation (background story) is being enforced.

Leadership or life cannot be taught in the class, but surely education system and enterance systems can be altered to help student learn leadership outside the class. The underlying fundamental concept of an enterance system needs to be indentifying the best learners not the best scorers.

Share your views

Fallacy of Theories – Financial Crisis

Recently, my class had a guest lecture in which the faculty was trying to impose “Books and Theories are non-relevanat and fail?” Does the proposition hold true in the present scenario? Do the propounded theories like Decoupling, Elasticity, Demand theory etc fail in the real world scenario? How can theory explain an sudden upsurge in Oil Prices? How does one interpret the sub-prime crisis?

Interestingly, the people behind  the crisis and the regulatory bodies around the world are well acquainted with economy and financial theories infact are the top brains in the field of economy and finance. Can we infer that the theories which underly the financial and economical markets are absurd and do not find relevancy in crisis situations?

My opinion on the questions put forth in the prefatory section is “NO”. The theories in existence today are relevant and can correctly define the fundamentals behind the crisis. However, its humans natural instinct of greed and fear that deviate the consequences of the policies from the intended consequences put forth by theory. Economy theories reject sub-prime loans,  very high risk ventures etc but it is the mans’ avarice that has caused him to follow actions which are not as per economy theory.

I believe that economy like any science evolves over a period of time. As economy evolves we shall discover the newer fudamental facts behind crisis which are not defined by the present theories.