Preparing B-Schools to Outmatch Covid

Ironic as it may appear, like the ‘triple crown’ b-schools, COVID-19 is a ‘triple crisis’—medical, economic, and psychological. The basic coordinates of the everyday lives of millions are getting disintegrating. The coronavirus epidemic itself is clearly not just a biological phenomenon which affects humans. To understand its spread, one has to consider human cultural choices… economy and global trade, the thick network of international relations, ideological mechanisms of fear and panic.

But even horrible events can have unpredictable positive consequences. The pandemic may trigger the emergence of an alternate society, one that promotes global solidarity and cooperation. Countries and b-schools after lockdown can be transformed to be restarted in a new way.

The path to transformation may be found in the answer to an important question – ‘What is wrong with our system that we were caught unprepared by the catastrophe despite scientists warning us about it for years?’

Lockdown due to COVID-19 has brought nearly all educational activities to a standstill in management institutes. The post-lockdown scenario is expected to be different with some of the visible changes focusing on review of –

  • compulsory residential requirements
  • herding of students in classrooms
  • face-to-face teaching
  • peer-interactions
  • revenues and costs

This stoppage of activities may therefore be the time to prepare for the future. One way forward is to involve faculty members to put on the hats of consultants and prepare plans for the management institute for the post COVID era. Some of the consulting assignments which the management schools could entrust to their faculty teams may focus around (alphabetical listing and not priority based listing) –

  • Aggregated and standardized teaching
  • Distributed and customized learning
  • Economies of scale vs. scope
  • Even obligation on students, faculty and staff for living on campus
  • Innovations in curriculum and content
  • Innovations in models of content delivery and learning –
  • Preparation of standard modules of recorded content
  • Process re-engineering
  • Redesign of classrooms, libraries, Cafeterias and auditoriums
  • Redundancy detection and downsizing of bloated staff
  • Research track and Tutor Track
  • Residential campuses as communities and not just hostels
  • Restructuring – new hierarchies in ranks and designation
  • Risk Identification, mitigation and Management
  • Training of tutors for facilitating learning in small groups
  • Use of LEAN, cost measurement, planning and control

The ideas and possibilities are endless; solutions need to be worked out by contextualizing and evaluating the ideas. At the very fundamental level, management institutes need to manage what is called the 4F’s – freshers, faculty, funds and freedom. [see: Gupta, Mukul (1996) ‘Issues for the Managers of Management Schools’ DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.16047.36009]

If management schools cannot devise a plan for themselves to outgrow the pandemic, they should not aspire for corporate organizations seeking their advice and consulting services. If management schools cannot survive and outgrow COVID, they will lose their legitimacy to teach management.

(First published 01 June 2020)


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Published by

Mukul Gupta

*Educator, researcher, author and a friendly contrarian* Professor@MDIGurgaon

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