Dr. V.S. Ramaswamy, in a candid interview with IMI Konnect: Voice of Marketing

V. S. Ramaswamy, an eminent author of the best-selling book “Marketing Management, 6 edition”(published by SAGE Publications) is a marketing practitioner turned academician and is associated with numerous management institutes. He did an interview with IMI Konnect, where he candidly spoke on various current and emerging issues pertaining to Marketing Management as a subject and stressed on "relevance" and "excellence" being two significant criteria of management education today, especially in India. This interview also emphasizes on the various transitions that Marketing as a discipline has been going through. In addition, it brings forth some valuable insights on Rural Marketing in India and several daunting challenges inherent to it.

IMI Konnect: As an author of the best-selling textbook on “Marketing Management” and as an observer of how the subject is taught at the MBA level in our country, do you think that teaching of Marketing Management today warrants some change? What are the issues on this front?

Dr Ramaswamy: In order to deal with the subject properly, we need to first place it in the right perspective. Marketing teaching can be discussed only within the framework of Management education. Management education in our country does warrant a change. The fundamental question is: Does an MBA degree brings the “value” it is supposed to bring to the main stakeholders, i.e. the graduating youngsters and the corporates who are going to employ them? One pertinent question here is, why does one go for an MBA degree – for value or vanity or lack of alternative? Years ago I used to contribute to a V. S. Ramaswamy* column in “NEWDELHI”, a magazine of substance started and edited by Khuswant Singh. One of the pieces in the column, bearing the caption “MBA Mania” had satirised the craze for an MBA degree, among our middle-class youth of those days. The quality of management education imparted by the B-Schools then, with the exception of the top rung was far worse than what it is today. Still, there was the craze. Many seekers of the three-letter qualification were over-valuing it, while many others opted for it because it was a status symbol. The era under reference is the early 1980s. The description “Mania” aptly fitted the prevailing context. We are now into the 2020s. Four decades down, has anything changed in this regard? Yes, but not anywhere to the desired extent, especially in the key aspects. Actually, the situation had worsened in the 15 years that followed the early 1980s, before it became a bit better. The description “Mania” fitted the new context even more. In this period, there was an endless mushrooming of institutes offering MBA degrees and PGDMs, accompanied by a continuous lowering of the quality of the education imparted. The trend as we enter the 2020s can be described as a “positive shift” in one major respect! I refer to the closure of quite a few of the already functioning management institutes!

IMI Konnect: Given this, what would be your take on quality vs. quantity in management education?

Dr Ramaswamy: Here, I would first elaborate whether the closure of institutes can be referred to as a “positive shift”? Given the context, the answer is Yes. The pertinent question is: Has the value and utility of our average MBA degree gone up at least in the more recent years? The answer is “Yes, but nowhere near adequacy”. One may come across comments that quality inadequacy in MBA education applies on a global basis, especially when specific aspects are considered for assessment. We all will recall the popular, light-hearted publication, “What they don’t teach you at Harvard Business School”. While it may not have constituted a wholesome and objective critique of the MBA education offered by the world’s leading B-School, it did reveal the education’s lack of relevance. A number of top B-Schools the world over have gone for many change initiatives in order that their MBA courses remained grounded to the emerging realities of business and society. The inadequacy of MBA-education in the case of India, however, is in a different league altogether. It is reported that even after the closure in recent years of so many institutes across India, there are still more than 5000 management institutes in India offering MBA/PGDM. Yet, not even a handful figure in the Global Top 200 B-School ranking.

Read the entire interview at http://bit.ly/2PPfhDM

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