All over the world, institutions try to strike a balance between real-time experience and educational degree

The recent move of IIMs to make redundant doctoral degree as pre-condition for applying for the post of director at these institutions has raised storm in the campuses. Sharp reactions from a few IIM directors ranges from some terming it an inadvertent drafting mistake to an unwanted attempt to change rules, which is not in the best of interests of the management institutions. Though the government has tried to douse the fire by clarifying that there is no dilution of the provisions – executives from industry seeking directorship at IIM’s will need doctoral degree – it has failed to quell the uproar.

Not far from this squall, developed another storm when IIM-Ahmedabad and IIM-Bangalore expressed their inclinations to increase the number of seats at these institutions. If this were okayed, the total number of seats at 20 IIMs, spread across the country, would increase to 13,216 from 12,411. Additional seats would also include various programmes, including doctoral and executive, apart from the regular courses.

The issues may appear separate, but in reality they are linked. Let’s take the first issue of requirement of doctoral degree to become a full-time faculty member at IIMs. While there could be a number of corporate sector professionals who have seen the real action in the business – from making marketing strategies to lunching new products to various other aspects of trade and market – but would lack time to pursue a doctoral degree. Compare this with an individual who surely has a doctoral degree but has never worked in the corporate sector, never made strategies to launch a new product and has never seen what failure of a market strategy means to corporate bottom line.

Who of the two would be better placed to teach student – the one who has the real time experience or the other who spent his life in the realms of books and never stepped out of libraries? But these prestigious institutions, so far, have been giving more importance to degrees that the actual experience.

All over the world, management institutions try to strike a balance between exposure and degrees. And that’s how they remain alive to the changing markets and are able to teach students what they would be requiring to captain a business ship than just theories of management. They not only talk about the industry-institution interface but also practice it.

Probably, these are the issues that should have been tackled head-on years ago, but because of one or the other reason got brushed under the carpet. Probably, that suited different stakeholders in the system.

Now let us take the second issue of mindless expansion of IIMs. In last 10 years, many new IIMs have come up. Just a look at their websites would show how thin and lacking they are on faculty strength. A number of them are running literally on borrowed faculty from older IIMs, who are given visiting faculty assignments in these new institutes. This problem can be resolved in one go by removing the requirement of doctoral degree. Many a prominent market people would love to share their experience and mentor students for the future jobs.

The probability that an individual who would join these institutes would give his best is very high. Reason being that a in term of earnings any person moving from corporate sector to academic would be taking a hit on his or her earnings. So, it would be his passion to teach rather than money that would make him give best to academics.