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IIM Review Committee Report: A Critical Examination

The report of the IIM Review Committee has a very poorly defined purpose and approach. Some of the basic issues have been touched upon only superficially. The report reflects the shortcomings in the constitution of the committee and its inability to take adequate inputs from stakeholders. It has slipped a few crucial terms of reference, demonstrating a casual approach to the whole issue of preparing a report on such an important topic.

COMMENTARYEconomic & Political Weekly EPW DECEMBER 27, 200817significant only in Tamil Nadu. Further, in several districts of high and low pre-valence states, HIV prevalence among ANC women was more than 1%. The new emerging areas with highHIV transmis-sion have been identified. TheHIV preva-lence among IDUs remains stable. This abundantly makes it clear that the lowered estimate does not indicate a decline in the epidemic but a correction for some incon-gruities in the data and in the previous method of estimation.ReferencesBagla, Pallava (2007): “Don’t Be Misled on AIDS”, Times of India, New Delhi, 10 July.Dandona, L, V Lakshmi, T Sudha, G A Kumar and R Dandona (2006): “A Population-Based Study of Human Immunodeficiency Virus in South India Reveals Major Differences from Sentinel Surveillance-Based Estimates”,BMC Medicine, 4:31.Gouws, Eleanor (2006): “Comparison of Country Level ANC Prevalence in Household Surveys and ANC in South India”, paper presented in the meeting of WHO/UNAIDS Reference Group on Estimates, Modelling, Projections, held in Prague, Czech Republic, 29 November-1 December.IANS (2007): “Experts Challenge New India HIV Esti-mate”, Indo-Asian New Service, Yahoo! India News.htm, 7 July.Kang, G, R Samuel, T S Vijayakumar et al (2005): “Community Prevalence of Antibodies to Human Immunodeficiency Virus in Rural and Urban Vellore, Tamil Nadu”,National Medical Journal of India,18(1): 15-17.Pandey, Arvind, M Thomas, D C S Reddy, Kant Shashi and M Bhattacharya (2007): Indian Journal of Public Health, January-March.Saphonn, V, L B Hor, S P Ly, S Chhuon, T Saidel, R Detels (2002): “How Well Do Antenatal Clinic (ANC) Attendees Represent the General Popula-tion? A Comparison of HIV Prevalence from ANC Sentinel Surveillance Sites with a Population-Based Survey of Women Aged 15-49 in Cambodia”,Inter-national Journal of Epidemiology, April, 31(2): 449-55. Stover, J, N Walker, N C Grassly and M Marston (2006): “Projecting the Demographic Impact of AIDS and the Number of People in Need of Treat-ment: Updates to the Spectrum Projection Pack-age”, Sexually Transmitted Infections, June, 82 (Supplement 3), iii45-50.Thomas, K, S P Thyagarajan, L Jeyaseelan et al (2002): “Community Prevalence of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection in Tamil Nadu, India: A Probability Proportional to Size Cluster Survey”,National Medical Journal of India, 15(3):135-40.UNAIDS (2006):Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic, UNAIDS/06.13E, Geneva.Walker, N, J Stover, K Stanecki, A E Zaniewski, N C Grassly, J M Garcia-Calleja, P D Ghys (2004): “The Workbook Approach to Making Estimates and Projecting Future Scenarios of HIV/AIDS in Countries with Low Level and Concentrated Epidemics”,Sexually Transmitted Infections, August, 80 (Supplement 1) i10-13.IIM Review Committee Report: A Critical ExaminationT Krishna KumarThe report of the IIM Review Committee has a very poorly defined purpose and approach. Some of the basic issues have been touched upon only superficially. The report reflects the shortcomings in the constitution of the committee and its inability to take adequate inputs from stakeholders. It has slipped a few crucial terms of reference, demonstrating a casual approach to the whole issue of preparing a report on such an important topic.The Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Review Committee submitted its report, hereafter IIM RCR (GoI 2008). Despite well-known personalities from Indian business being on the com-mittee, my overall impression is that one should not take the report of the committee seriously, and instead one must ignore it. I must give a professional introduction of myself to give my comments the im-portance they deserve. My professional pre-retirement career of 35 years was divided between the United States (US) and India (15 and 20 years respectively). I worked in the US at the Centre for Re-search in Management Science, University of California, Berkeley, Iowa State Uni-versity and Florida State University, I was director of the Institute for Behavioural Research at Florida Atlantic University before I returned to India permanently in 1978 as a professor at IIM Bangalore. I was at iim b for eight years. During that period I was the chairperson of the fellow programme and framed its first set of rules, chairperson of the consultancy review committee, and started the journal, IIMBManagement Review. I resigned from iim b in 1986 as I felt that the first two directors were not academic enough to understand the importance of academic autonomy and of research and consultancy. After resigning from iim b I had written to the then human resource development (HRD) minister and the prime minister on the importance of proper choice of an academically competent director. The prime minister had acknowledged by saying that they would take the neces-sary steps. I am glad to note that all the directors subsequently appointed at iim b have been academically extremely good and competent. After retirement, from 2001 to 2008, I have been a guest faculty at iim b and have taught courses on quantitative methods and managerial economics. 1 IntroductionTheIIMRCR makes a significant contribu-tion to management education, as it is a good illustration of how not to prepare a business report. It also serves as a good case on discovering and understanding how non-stakeholders could prepare such reports. Let me first summarise my rea-sons for these conclusions and substanti-ate some of them subsequently.– Constitution of the committee is essen-tially flawed and prone to bias because it is weighted in favour of the bureaucracy and does not have any management educator on it;T Krishna Kumar (tkkumar@gmail.com) is with Samkhya Analytica India and is a guest faculty at IIM Bangalore.
COMMENTARYDECEMBER 27, 2008 EPW Economic & Political Weekly18– The hidden agenda for the committee seems to come up with a set of recommen-dations that contradict some of the impor-tant recommendations made by the National Knowledge Commission (NKC);– The report did not cover all the terms of reference, and even those that it covered it did so superficially;– There is a hierarchy of institutions pro-viding management education and it is important to understand the role of gov-ernment in promoting the quantity and quality of graduates produced by them;– The role of IIMs must be understood as part of that larger role of the government and in that larger context of management education;– Assuming that theIIMs continue to set and maintain high quality standards, the size and scope ofIIMs depend on the de-mand for top tier management graduates, and the optimum size of eachIIM, and this is not how the report arrived at its recommendations;– Absence of a robust methodology makes it arrive at recommendations based on subjective impressions;– Absence of supporting data and data analysis prevent the report from making convincing recommendations;– Lack of understanding of the links be-tween research, consulting and teaching in an applied discipline like management is responsible for some of the counter- intuitive recommendations;– IIM faculty are strengthening the manage-ment education through their own unique and meticulous methods (e g, offering rel-evant optional courses and making a pres-entation of the course outlines to students before offering them), and the report fails to recognise these;– It makes little effort to infuse relevance by attracting practising managers for careers in management teaching;– It makes no effort to improve quality of the curriculum by attracting foreign-based teachers;– It makes no attempts at suggesting ways and means of generating more support to management education from industry.I will structure my discussion around the following themes: (a) constitution of theIIM Review Committee; (b) absence of a clearly defined methodological approach; (c) links between teaching, research, and consultancy; and (d) differences between the recommendations of NKC andIIMRCR recommendations.2 Constitution and Working of the Review CommitteeOne must examine the IIMRCR within the context of why and how the government constituted that committee. Is it to fulfil a routine obligation of the government? Is it to discredit recommendations of another high-powered committee? Is it to give some credibility to certain policies that the government is planning to introduce? As thisIIM review took place 15 years after the previous one, it does not lend to the interpretation that it is a routine review. As the NKC had already made some recommendations on this subject (NKC 2007) there does not seem to be a genuine need to set up the IIM Review Committee at this time. In fact, the IIM Review Committee came into existence on 17 October 2007 while the NKC already transmitted the recommendations on management education to the prime min-ister, with a copy marked to the minister of HRD, on 15 October 2007. The circum-stantial evidence, the differences in the approaches adopted by the two bodies, and the striking differences in their rec-ommendations lend support to the view that there could be a hidden agenda. This hidden agenda seems to be to arrive at recommendations somehow that are con-trary to some of the main recommenda-tions of NKC,1 and give a false impression that the yet to be introduced government policies have the backing of an independent high-powered committee, especially con-stituted for management education. Some recommendations are inconsist-ent with the proposed objectives set by this committee itself, and with the recom-mendations of NKC. Let me explain how that could have happened. The union government can manipulate the nature of contents of the report by the choice of the members of the review committee and its composition. A retired Indian Adminis-trative Service (IAS) officer of the 1956 batch holding a managerial position in a public sector enterprise as the chairperson, and another bureaucrat from the HRD ministry as the member secretary is ideally suited to make the recommendations align
COMMENTARYEconomic & Political Weekly EPW DECEMBER 27, 200819with the government stand. This is further reassured through bureaucratic majority with the inclusion of another bureaucrat on a five-member committee.2 It is perhaps in reconciling the differences between the bureaucratic views and the independent professional views of the minority that the report brings in some internal inconsisten-cies and contradictions. Three members, including the chair-person and member secretary, did not un-dergo any formal management training in institutions comparable to IIMs, while two other members had gone through formal management training in either anIIM or a better institution. There is no manage-ment educator on the committee despite the fact that there are so many former di-rectors of IIMs available to serve as mem-bers of the committee. TheIIMRCR’s attempt to gather inputs from Mckinsey and Company and a few management consultants does not seem to be justified, particularly in the absence of getting such systematic input from the stakeholders. The inputs from management consultants were based on a questionnaire that the committee members developed. The report does not mention on what questions they sought information from the management consultants, and what the summaries of those answers are. The committee also made one-day flying visits to only a few IIMs, and did notvisitsome IIMs including, IIM-Lucknow, a prominent one that is in close proximity to Delhi. The report reflects this lacuna in the constitution of the committee and in not taking adequate inputs from the stake-holders. Skipping two crucial terms of reference, namely, the second and the fourth terms of reference calling for a careful review of the curricula to see their relevance with respect to the national priorities, and calling for scrutiny of effi-cient utilisation of existing resources, is an example. It also skipped major part of the sixth term of reference (review the per student cost). Skipping major terms of reference demonstrates a casual ap-proach of the chairperson and secretary, in particular, to the whole issue of pre-paring a report on such an important topic. It also gives credibility to the view that for the government covering the terms of reference is not as important as the recommendations picked out from the hat and sleeves.3 Absence of Clearly Defined Methodology India is supposed to play a key role in the knowledge sector and industrial growth during the first half of this millennium. India is expected to record a steady growth between 5% and 6% during the next five decades. What are the projections under such a scenario of gross domestic product, industrial production, and demand for managers and management teachers? The IIMRCR did not attempt to assess the future needs, the present supply, and efficiency of the use of existing resources to establish credibility to the number of new IIMs and the enrolment levels. Even if one assumes thatIIMs produce the top 5% to 10% of the demand what will be those numbers? It presents a very crude one-sentence description of a business model of IIMs. It does not identify the roles of government, IIMs, universities, and the private sector in promoting management education in the desired path. Although the terms of refer-ence do not specifically call for such a con-text within which IIMs work, the last term of reference gives scope to take such a view to make the recommendations more rele-vant in a broader context. The approach needed to address the issues raised in the terms of reference calls for: (a) identifica-tion of long-term needs of managerial manpower; (b) assessment of projected supply of managerial manpower without government intervention; (c) estimation of the shortfall that needs to be met by the nation through governmental policies; (d) alternate methods of meeting that shortfall, including incentives to be given to the private industrial sector and to the educational institutions such as universities; (e) the relevance of continued role of IIMs as (i) centres of excellence in management education, (ii) to set and keep high standards to be emulated by other institutions, and (iii) to produce teachers of management; (f) the importance of access and equal access to management education; (g) the importance of providing market signals to the employers through ranking or rat-ing of management education provided by different institutions; (h) identifica-tion of stakeholders of IIMs and eliciting what they expect of IIMs; (i) identifica-tion and ranking of the various outputs of IIMs, such as postgraduate programmes (PGP),one-year executive programme, short-term management/executive deve-lopment programmes, research, and con-sultancy programmes; (j) identification of the educational technology used byIIMs andthatof the best practice educational technology; (k) methods of bridging the gap between the existing educational technology and the best practice techno-logy, and the role of information and communication technology (ICT) in bridg-ing this gap; and (l) methods for aug-menting resources needed for manage-ment education to bridge the gap be-tween supply and demand of different grades of management graduates.The committee addressed only some of the above issues, and that too partially and superficially. There is no evidence in the report that any detailed and sys-tematic understanding and analysis of these issues formed the basis of the report. The reader would expect to find appendices that show the fixed and vari-able costs, along with enrolment levels of various programmes in various IIMs, number of consultancy assignments handled, research publications, budget allocations, etc, based on which it made its recommendations. In the absence of such information, thereadergets an im-pression that some of these basicissues are touched upon onlysuperficiallyand not in sufficient detail as to be expected from such an important committee. It has very poorly defined purpose and approach. Appendix 3 (in the report), whichitlabels as the “methodology” used in preparing the report, is what I submit as evidence in support of my claim. It has no part of the main body of the report dealing with methodology that lies behind the recom-mendations made in the report. What it calls a methodology in Appendix 3 is not even a methodology in the first place. It is just a list of steps taken. One achieves efficient use of resources through institutional rules that enable some desirable factors, and disable some undesirable factors. Any recommenda-tions must come from this kind of frame-work by suggesting institutional rules or policies. An absence of such a framework
COMMENTARYDECEMBER 27, 2008 EPW Economic & Political Weekly20might give rise to policies that are bad and counter-intuitive. In the absence of a clearly identified methodology if one identifies the strengths as weaknesses, and opportunities as threats, policies so derived would put the system in the reverse gear, and instead of taking the IIMs forward they can take them backwards. That this has in fact happened is clear from the following examples from the report.– The consultancy and executive develop-ment programmes conducted byIIMs should figure in as strengths, but they figure as the weaknesses inIIMRCR; – Academic autonomy and decentralised academic decisions are strengths needed to establish academic excellence, and they are treated byIIMRCR as a weakness;– Publication of high quality papers inIIM run journals is a strength (to assert that IIMs became excellent institutions with their own high quality journals),IIMRCR treats that as a weakness. 4 Links between Teaching, Research, and ConsultancyThe committee members ignored the inter-dependency between teaching, research, and consultancy. The committee recognises that the students ofIIMs are very bright. These students are also highly motivated and want to take challenges. They want their money worth from their faculty in order to take the challenges they would face. They want the courses to be relevant. If teachers use any concepts and methods without possible business application, they would rate the course low. In order to bring such relevance the faculty must gain consultancy experience on an ongo-ing basis, or else the illustrations become sterile. In order to obtain consultancy assignments the faculty must engage in relevant applied research. Research rein-forces consultancy and consultancy rein-forces teaching. TheIIMRCR makes the usual mistake of using a colonial mindset to evaluate the performance of the IIM faculty. In a glo-balised competitive environment, it does make sense to use measures of compe-tence that are globally acceptable. The IIMRC makes a mistake of measuring the worth of faculty by their publications in peer reviewed international journals alone and totally ignores their contribution in generating teaching material best suited to Indian business, and in getting practical examples from Indian business through the executive development programmes. It interprets the latter, not as desirable final outputs, but as programmes generating money for the faculty, and as sources of revenue to subsidise the mainPGP. In sug-gesting that faculty publish in international journals, it is weakening the incentives to promote Indian and IIM journals to inter-national standards. Table 1: Comparison of NKC and IIM RC Item NKC IIMRCR Date of submission of the report 15 October 2007 25 September 2008Constitution of the committee NKC constituted a Working Group of GOI constituted IIM-RC Experts for management education Bureaucrats 0 3Academics 3 0Industry 3 2Consultation process Stakeholders consulted Yes Practically NoContext of IIMs Within higher education system including With postgraduate diploma and universities and bachelors degree fellowship diploma in IIMs programmes Recognises high quality Management No linkage with the rest of the Educational Entities (MEES) (including education system private ones) and expects them to mentor the others in the system Regulation mode (1) All India Council for Technical Education Silent, implying continuing AICTE (AICTE) to be replaced by professional autonomous body, a standing committee on management of Independent Regulatory Authority for Higher Education (2) Allowing professional accreditation, national and international, involving professionals and industry experts. Market signalling through Considered Ignored grading or ratingAccess issue Considered ConsideredManagement No super governing body besides a regulatory 15 member PAN-IIM board, the body for maintaining standards. This would chairman of which is appointed by consist of professionals. All institutions must the prime minister, the secretary be treated as autonomous. Government of this board will be a government established institutes must treat government nominee. One-third of the members as a promoter. are government nominees with dominant role for secretary, ministry for human resource development (MHRD). The boards of directors of MEEs will have Recommends a 11-member board, with 50% independent directors, as in companies. six out of 11 being independent professionals while the others are nominees. The independent professionals will be chosen by a committee headed by the secretary MHRD. The appointment of directors of public sector The board as constituted above will MEEs must be rid of either direct or indirect choose the director. intervention by the government.Methods for meeting shortfall It makes no distinction on different fields of It recommends differential salary in teachers specialisation regarding such shortfall. structure to attract faculty in functional Recommends setting up a separate autonomousareas.Suggests fellowship students academically credible institute with adequate should sign a contract when already the funding from leading management institutes, enrolment levels are below the planned industry, and government. intake. Use ICT to compensate for shortage Use ICT to compensate for shortage of teachers. of teachers.Optimal resource allocation Considered Not consideredBasis of evaluation Student feedback, recruiter feedback, Based on publications in world class publication in reputed journals (permits Indian peer-reviewed foreign journals, ranking journals to become reputed journals), by foreign business magazines. institutionalise faculty evaluation. Relevance in teaching through case studies. About executive development Encourage to generate casestudies and Reduce the faculty time devoted for these programmes and consultancy bring relevance. and increase time devoted for postgraduateprogramme.

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