How management teachers can improve their research capabilities


There is a rather severe drought as far as Management Teachers are concerned. Those with excellent research capabilities are difficult to find. This article seeks to offer some tips for teachers of the Management subjects to acquire these capabilities.

Introduction

The number one ranked Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad has teachers who have at least one doctorate degree and at least 200 publications in international journals of repute. These teachers would literally lock themselves in for as many as seven hours at a stretch and do a massive amount of hard work of reading and researching many publications. As a Member of the Research team at IIMA in the early eighties, I was rather amazed at the kind of dedication and commitment that these teachers bring to their jobs. The world-class institute has a reputation for research that is considered to be one of the best in the world.

A similar standard of research has been reported to be available at the two other prestigious Indian institutes of Management at Bangalore and Kolkatta. And teachers at the other IIMs and the best of thirty B-Schools are also catching up. However, the research capabilities of the teachers in the rest of the 4000 and odd B-Schools do not seem to be anywhere near the standards of the three main IIMs. This apart, it is still a matter of concern that not a single Indian teacher has produced any book on any functional area of Management that can qualify as a classic, that would have sold billions of copies worldwide. The late Prof C.K.Prahalad, of Indian origin, has co-authored a world-class book, with Prof Gary Hamel, on "Competing for the Future" that took the Corporate World and changed the Corporate landscape forever.

Any Management teacher can improve his or her research capabilities by a) Publishing at least one Management textbook b) Aiming to publish research-based articles on new and relevant topics c) Enabling students to do serious Organization-based research for new insights d) Relating corporate events and concepts and writing articles in Business newspapers e) Honing research skills to publish articles in International refereed journals.

Publishing a Management Textbook

It is really a matter of concern that the teachers who teach MBA courses in semi-urban and rural areas do not have any research background and do not have the aptitude to publish any book. In fact, today, with the maximum importance being given to books in the local languages, there is a massive scope, for example, to publish a case-study-oriented textbook in any of the local languages, about any entrepreneur who has succeeded in setting up a big company, sometimes an FMCG company fighting against the likes of Hindustan Unilever. Himalaya Drugs, Cavinkare and Haldirams are glorious examples. The case studies will open up new vistas of research and there can even be more books either in English or in the local language. Of course, a lot of hard work needs to be done, but only such hard work will take any Management Teacher to the next level.

Publishing research-based articles on new and relevant topics

This is another area of concern. For example, there are many research-based articles on absenteeism and most of these are simply run-of-the-mill types with hardly any new insight or creativity in them. The students of HRM hardly see any research-based articles on Strategic Human Resources Management. In India, there is so much talk about Strategic HRM but very little insight into what happens in the field. There are no articles on how Indian organizations, for example, balance their need to take hard decisions like laying off staff when they need to cut manpower costs and yet aim to engage the rest of the employees in serious work in the main domain areas in the IT organizations. Whatever little comes out does get published in Business magazines such as Business Today, but this is just not enough.

Management Teachers need to publish articles on each missing gap. For example, while there are books on self-help groups, there are not too many articles on the marketing strategies of such organizations, particularly with reference to the new areas in which the self-help groups can be trained, with a big focus on exports. Management Teachers need to marry their intellectual empirical research interests with the need for research on topics that have a big impact on society. In fact, this is even more relevant in today's conditions, when a single major global change like the Covid menace has had a tremendous impact on the economic viability of several groups of people, everywhere in India.

Encouraging students for Organization-based research

There is a compulsory requirement for an internship for every MBA student. The student is expected to do highly relevant work in terms of assisting the organization and learning from industry practices. Sometimes, the research leads to a mini project. However, these are days when the organization demands that such a project should lead to some organizational improvement and hence low cost, in a viral area such as Supply Chain Management.

Nevertheless, the one or two months of internship can also be extended and the student can indeed come back with some learning that can be written as a case study. For example, there are some organizations that do not have any trade union. The Management would really care for people and there will be perfect harmony between the Management and the workmen. Such a situation demands that the student comes back with a deep insight into the various variables that have contributed to the present situation and the variables that may become irritants in the near future. For example, it is well known that wherever the organization has a clear policy to confirm a workman on regular rolls, after a period of good service, for, say, 84 months, the organization would gain a tremendous amount of goodwill from the contract workmen. Furthermore, if the contract workmen are good enough to be confirmed in the regular services after a particular period of service, the society will also have high regard for the organization, in terms of the workmen being good citizens as well.

The student should utilize all the time to study in depth the various variables and then come back with a good case study. The scope for action-oriented research increases manifold in the case of FMCG companies. For example, whenever there is a recession, people tend to buy smaller packs of any product. Based on feedback from the student, the company may even reorient its strategy and become more agile. For example, if the housewives prefer a small discount on a pack of 200 grams, or prefer a free gift, that feedback will be very useful. For example, an ordinary Gel pen that might cost just Rs 11 to be given free, will increase the sale of the product many times, thus nullifying the cost of such a discount. Such insights from the field will also throw up huge possibilities for similar research in the future.

Relating corporate events and concepts and writing articles

A profound strategy such as the Blue Ocean Strategy that has changed the Strategic Thinking capabilities of many organizations and led them to Blue Oceans is a good example in this regard. That is, the organization chooses an uncontested market space and comes out with products that are totally different, but lead the organization to new profit trajectories. For example, Arun Ice-cream is a leading brand in South India. At the higher end, the organization saw a new market developing for the more costly and different varieties of premium ice cream. Instead of Competing in the same market where it is already a big player, Arun Ice cream Management decided on a Blue Ocean strategy by creating the Ibaco brand. This premium positioning is a recent example of Blue Ocean Strategy. The Management teacher should interview the owners to understand the different motivations that lead to the marketing strategies and the Blue Ocean Strategy. And if there are three articles, in say, The Hindu Businessline, it can enhance the intellectual quality of discussion in any B-School.

Honing research skills to publish articles in international journals

When a Management teacher starts publishing articles in Business newspapers and magazines, he or she is bound to hone his or her skill to go to the next level of publishing articles in International refereed journals. There is every possibility of aligning with some expert first publish one of two such articles and then go on to publish articles independently.

Conclusion

The research in B-Schools is always one grey area of concern. Management Teachers need to improve their research capabilities and do far better than what they are doing now. Some ideas in this direction have been discussed in the aforesaid paragraphs.


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Comments

Author: DR.N.V. Srinivasa Rao18 Jan 2023 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 4

A good article from the author. Whatever may be the subject one studies, he should have a good grip and hold on the subject he studied and his basics should be strong then only one can do research that is useful to the society. Subjects like management are hybrid subject with the combination of various related subjects.

To publish a book in any subject requires a lot of in-depth knowledge in the subject and the author should be able to substantiate his statements with facts and figures.That requires a lot of dedication and understanding of the subject. Once a teacher can publish a book, he will be definitely able to do an excellent research in that particular area.
Another important aspect a good researcher requires is to identify the students who can help them in pursuing their research. Many students these days join research as a stop gap arrangement and just shift to a job the moment he /she gets an opportunity.



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