What B-schools don’t seem to be teaching

Ajit Balakrishnan, CEO of Rediff.com but more importantly for this post, the Chairman of IIM Calcutta’s Board of Governors, tries to figure out what ails business schools of today:

(Quoting Jeffrey Pfeffer) …much of what business schools teach—analytical tools like statistics and basic disciplines like economics and sociology—are readily learned and imitated by any intelligent person. On the other hand, things like communication ability, inter-personal skills, leadership and, most importantly, “wisdom”, the ability to weave together and make use of different kinds of knowledge, are less easily taught. Paradoxically, these are the very skills that lie at the heart of a leadership role in management.

(Quoting Warren Bennis and James O’Toole) …business schools (are) attempting to adopt a “scientific model”. This model at attempts to treat management education as if it was something like physics or chemistry or biology whereas it is, in their view, more a “profession” like medicine or law. They see this distinction between an academic discipline and a profession as the central issue.

I’ve been thinking lately about why I seem to be dissatisfied with some excellent courses I’ve taken this term. They’re (on the surface) well-designed courses, and are taught by very committed, talented faculty. This article’s been more food for thought. Perhaps in the next couple of weeks I’ll analyse why I feel this way.

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