Talent shortage of faculty in B-schools


The Business schools are the sources for creating Human Resource managerial talents in various fields of business activity. It is very much surprising to note that the B-schools do not have adequate faculty members to take care of their needs. The shortage is not restricted to Asian countries alone but also in developed countries as well to a limited extent. The Management institutes which have a Global reputation and based in India like IIMs , Great Lakes Management school, Indian school of Business (in collaboration with Kellogs Wharton) are all facing adequate faculty problems. No doubt they are taking various innovative steps but situation is not satisfactory yet. The reasons are many but most apparent ones are:

* Few qualified talented personnel suitable as a management school faculty want to pursue Academic career as they do not have the aptitude for academics.
* Compensation package for faculty even at senior level is lower than that in Business or Industry.
* Many of the post graduates and doctorates consider teaching as a monotonous job and it lacks a sense of achievement or job satisfaction.
* They do not consider teaching ‘management’ as a significant contribution to the national economy

Coming back to the shortage of talent we are presenting a case here. A much revered professor Mr. S who has spent 15 years at a reputed management institute was given a grand farewell party by the institute, colleagues and students. However, this farewell is a little out of place because Mr. S is not going anywhere but continuing in the institute for another three years as the institute has invited him to stay on and continue the same things that he has done for past 15 years. This is because the management institute is not able to get a suitable faculty to take care of Mr. S’s work or workload.

This institute is the most reputed in India and is well known as IIM-A and it is for the first time that IIM-A has asked a retired professor to stay on the same role. And Mr. S is not the only one: similar offers have gone out to other retired IIM-A faculty as well.

All this is not as simple as it sounds. It points to a larger problem of faculty shortage at some of India’s best known business schools. Even as demand for business education continues unabated and B-schools camp up intake and launch new programs, they are increasingly finding themselves unable to cope with the strain it places on their faculty and by setting up second campuses in other countries is only adding to their problem. A Director of Management Development Institute at Gurgaon said that India needs at least 1000-plus additional faculty for the 100-odd approved B-schools in India. The situation is so bad that many schools are managing their MBA programs through a greater proportion of visiting faculty, and not permanent faculty.

The root of the problem lies on the supply side:
There are very few good quality PhD programs in India and not all those who do a PhD want to join academics. Most PhDs are just not excited about joining academics. The opportunities in industry are much better and far more lucrative.

It is certainly not a happy situation for B-schools. They are being forced to try out every trick in the trade to sort out the problem.

At XLRI, Jamshedpur, India, the XLRI board recently cleared a proposal to raise the retirement age for faculty from 60 to 65. The Chief Director o XLRI said that they are willing to go even further raise the retirement age to 70 for him or her if a professor is exceptionally good. The school has 50 full time faculty and it needs at least 12 more but with a couple of them retiring every year, it only makes things worse.

All said and done, this is just a stop gap arrangement. Not every one wants to go back after retirement because of other plans. And even if they do, it still leaves the larger issue to be tackled which is that of producing enough good quality faculty. XLRI has gone up a step further by increasing the compensation package by a total of 35%. Faculty poaching has always been a problem and every reputed institute is keen to guard its flock. IIMs are not so lucky as they cannot pay faculty competitive & attractive salaries because they are restrained by government rules.

That is why some schools are trying to tackle this issue of supply side by spawning Ph.D programs to address their own in house needs as done by ICFAI. About 2 yrs back it took a cue from the Harvard and Stanford Universities of U.S. having a worldwide reputation, to set up ICFAI institute of management teachers. ICFAI teachers trained people to fill faculty positions in its own chain of B-schools across India. People who complete their doctorates here are required to serve at ICFAI business schools for a minimum of 3 yrs. Early last week 3 reputed management institutes joined hands to launch a consortium Ph.D programs. The basic idea is the same.

At macro levels, this problem might just force changes in the way B-schools are modeled. The new B-school models that have come into being in the last few years- be it that of Indian schools of Business or Great Lakes Institute of Management- are relying on Visiting Faculty. A model heavy on visiting faculty gives us a chance to pick and choose only the best.

The impending faculty crisis made some older schools to change their faculty mix by reducing its dependence on quality – faculty with purely academic background. They also started bringing Industry people with an academic bent of mind as full time faculty and providing them with relevant training.

Summarizing the solutions of B-schools in dealing with faculty shortages are
* Faculty with academic to industry ratio of 80:20
* Resorting to pooling faculty resources with some schools to ease pressure in the short run
* Increase retirement age of competent professors
* Raise compensation package by 35%
* Conduct doctorate programs in house with the condition the incumbents work as faculty for 3 years in he management institute.

India may need 9000+ additional faculty for 1100 odd small and big B-schools. The situation is so bad that most MBA programs are relying on visiting faculty.

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