For years, the Institute of Business Administration in Karachi and the Lahore University of Management Sciences had a near monopoly on talent in business education in Pakistan. The two prestigious schools attracted the best faculty in management sciences, which in turn attracted the best and the brightest students seeking business and management education. This duopoly will soon face competition from KSBL, which is a $100-million initiative championed by Hussain Dawood, a renowned Pakistani businessman and a philanthropist. KSBL is now accepting applications for MBA starting in September 2012.
While being a 100-year old professional designation, MBA continues to be desired by hundreds of thousands of aspiring business managers. The first graduate business school was established at Harvard University in 1908. The school was staffed by 15 faculty members and 33 regular students. By 2008, no fewer than 155,367 students graduated with a master’s degree in business administration in the United States alone.
Another 335,000 received a bachelor’s degree in the same discipline. Business schools have become the largest faculty by size on campuses across North America. The Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University in Toronto is one of the largest business schools in Canada with over 9,000 students. In the US alone, three bachelor’s degrees are awarded in business administration for every one degree conferred in engineering
Despite its popularity from the very beginning in 1908, the MBA designation took 42 years to extend its reach beyond the US. The Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario in Canada in 1950 became the first non-American university to offer an MBA. It took another seven years for the MBA to sail across the Atlantic to reach Europe where INSEAD near Paris became the first European school to offer an MBA designation.
AACSB, a group responsible for accrediting business schools, today boasts 1,182 schools as its members of which 607 schools have already been accredited. AACSB’s estimates reveal that around 12,100 educational institutions worldwide are offering business degrees. Approximately 82 institutes have been reported to offer business degrees in Pakistan. As expected, only a small number of Pakistan-based institutes offer high quality business curriculum and training. The rest comprise business schools that lack libraries, computing faculties, lecture halls and most importantly adequate faculty members. A quick look at the websites of business schools in Pakistan will reveal that most faculty members do not have a terminal degree in their field and more often than not faculty members lack training in disciplines related to management and business.
Unlike Pakistan, where only two business schools achieved prominence, several business schools in India achieved global fame. The most renowned of such schools is the Indian Business School, which has partnered with other leading business schools in the west. Also recognised globally are the Indian Schools of Management who have become a gold standard for business education in India and abroad. Apart from the dozen-odd famous business schools, another 1,600 institutions offer business education in India.
Another success story from India is the large contingent of Indian-born academics who have risen to prominence in North America and Europe. In fact, the current dean of the Harvard Business School is an Indian-born academic Nitin Nohria, who is now leading the transformation of the same school that pioneered the MBA pedagogy.
Earlier this month, I attended a two-day symposium about transforming the MBA curriculum in Tampa, Florida. The symposium was led by two Harvard Business School professors: Srikant Datar and David Garvin. Srikant, also an Indian-born academic, has co-authored a book with David Garvin on rethinking the MBA curriculum. Their book is influencing academics in business schools that are entrusted in transforming the business curriculum to meet the societal needs.
The business education in Pakistan continues to be offered in the same style and with almost the same contents as is being offered in the west. This results in a serious disconnect between the challenges faced by businesses in Pakistan and the training being provided. Teaching the same curriculum as is being taught in the west may prepare graduates of Pakistan’s business programs to meet the business needs in the west, however these students remain ill-equipped to help businesses succeed in Pakistan.