To Remain Indian or Become International: On the Positioning of Indian B-Schools


Effectively strategizing for B - Schools is important because their graduates serve as business practitioners and shall be responsible for the social and economic development of the country. Currently, approximately 89 percent of B-School in India are private (self-financed) and receive no aid from the government. In this challenging environment, this becomes very important for a B - School to utilize each resource not only to save their own business also to balance the concept of business and society.

Currently, due to the catastrophe, campuses are shut and admissions are deferred (on March 24, the government of India announced nation-wide lockdown until April 14 which has been first extended till May 3, 2020 and second extension till May 17, 2020). Initial efforts at coordinating the economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic across B-schools have been uneven. The major impact has come on the summer internships and final placements [i]. B-Schools work on a two way perspective in India, on one side, they are expected to produce high-quality business managers and leaders and on the other side, they need to earn profits for themselves. Thus, their effective positioning amongst their stakeholders is very important.   

If we look at the successful strategic focus of Indian B-Schools, they are also not much dis-similar to other global b-schools. Indian B-schools are emphasizing on quality in their student intake, research, faculty recruitment, placements, and acquisition of other resources.  But, are all the 3000+ B-schools doing so? It is not, only a handful of institutions (top 100 B-Schools in NIRF Ranking) may be doing it. The B-schools may also have a question on if they do it, will they be successful?

If we look at the history of successful B-schools in India, they are built on differentiated strategies. For example, IIM Ahmedabad is more focused towards consulting, corporate training and foreign collaborations[ii], whereas, IIM Bangalore and IIM Calcutta positioned themselves as research-oriented B-Schools. If we look at the strategy of private B-Schools, they positioned themselves based on international accreditations, mainly AACSB and AMBA. Indian School of Business (ISB) was the first Indian B-School accredited by AACSB in 2011 followed by TAPMI in 2012. Currently, 14 Indian B-Schools are AACSB Accredited out of which 10 are the private B-Schools[iii]. Simultaneously, Indian B-Schools are also racing to position themselves as research-oriented B-Schools. Many B-Schools have started hosting their journals with international publication houses and some are in the race of doing so.

There are two ways Indian B-Schools can position themselves –

1.      School of National Importance: School of national importance have an option to position themselves and compose ‘Market-Based’ or ‘Customer-Based’ value proposition based on their teaching practices, salary packages, number of years in existence, alumni network.

2.      International B-School located in India: International B-Schools are more based on ‘Competitor’s positioning’ and have a different value proposition keeping global outlook in mind. Recently, Indian B-Schools have started positioning themselves based on Research, International Accreditations, and Knowledge Creation (Publication outlets).

The current situation is the right time for Indian B-Schools to re-position and give a new outlook to themselves.

-By Dr. Sudhir Rana, Associate Professor and Editor, FIIB Business Review 

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