Why no research in Business Schools?

'Kumar and Puranam make a case for academic management research as the hallmark of superior management schools. They vouch for theoretical practice, dismissing the popular notion that it is of scant applicability to “real life”. They offer three reasons why such research constitutes the “backbone” that “supports the pedagogical mission”. The first is the introduction into the real world of concepts such as ‘core competence' that strategists and financiers cannot do without today; alternatively, such scholarship debunks the corporate world's “best practices”, for instance, by showing poor returns for investors from acquisitions. The second is the value it contributes to teaching consulting and “writing for practitioners”. And the third, the value it adds to the institution's efforts at attracting the best faculty.'

Point taken, Prof. Kumar and Puranam.

But then there's another point that's not being considered. What about asking the question on the emphasis of R&D in businesses in India? What kind of budgets do you think firms in India dedicate to R&D, so they can pilot innovation within, both incremental and radical? My bet is not much. Which brings me to another point. Again a point I guess the good professors missed. The reasons behind the lack of research.

Let me illustrate. Suppose I were to do research to uncover what's behind the dismal motivational and commitment levels among employees in firms in India. Now this is research in the area of Organisational Behaviour and Human Resource Management. Logic says Indian firms should be bending over backwards to get the results of such research. So they can engage with their human capital better. But I bet they aren't, and won't. Why? Simple. Most HR departments in Indian firms are rag-tag outfits performing personnel functions. Most aren't even staffed well. Again, you may ask why? Know economics? Know the concept of demand and supply? Know what happens in economies where labour is in huge supply? Especially the kind of labour that possesses skill-sets that are easily replaceable and trainable? Well, the sad reality is such economies have firms that are bound to cock a snook at OB&HR research. So you see if firms don't really wanna know what it is that can help them engage with their employees better, what's the point in my research? Plus who's interested in either supporting or funding it?

Business School research can't exist in a realm of isolation. As much as research needs to provide for actionable business information, it must be supported by businesses themselves. For now, believe me, that's a distant and a pipe dream. Let's face it. India's the back-end to the world and its business firms are striving hard at lowering costs. Plus if its domestic mass consumers that businesses in India are dying to cater to, cost cutting remains the golden mantra. Now such a climate is not conducive to any research. Because research if supported will mean additional expenditure businesses in India must bear. Not many are willing. Not many are willing to believe research will help lower operational costs.

The outcome to that is as plain as the morning sun. Not much research will be done, and not much research will be desired.

Wish the professors knew that.


Nikhil said…
harsh reality, true very few prof. knows how indian businesses run
Luice said…
It is a awesome and productive practice you are doing in your university. How knowledge is applicable in routine life that should be teach in the school or college study.
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