Sep 04, 2016

Keeping Current

Anil B. Kulkarni

A good teacher is one who can connect with her audience. Some of the prerequisites for such a teacher are 1) subject knowledge and 2) a good understanding of the audience. Both these can change over time. If a teacher has to remain good over time, the challenge is to be current about the subject as well as have an insightful understanding of the changes taking place in the audience. Sometimes she might be teaching different age groups, sectors and people from varied backgrounds. What are these challenges? There are many but, I will try to list those that I think are of prime importance in management education.

Each area gets wider by the day; e.g. each of the topics and sub-topics are now subjects of full time courses or sometimes programmes. How does one choose a specialisation? How deep do we go within a specialisation? How does one keep track of the impact of other topics on one’s special field?

What about the impact of other areas on your area and specialisation? For example, the Return on Marketing Investment is an intersection of marketing, portfolio planning, resource allocation, cash flows, profit and shareholder value. Depth or Width?

Consumer behaviour requires a strong understanding of Behavioral Economics, Sociology, Anthropology and Psychology. Depth or Width? The answer probably lies in finding a balance which enables you to look at other fields only to the extent of their impact on your topic. Is this easy?

Big Data is coming at us in great volumes and velocity. How does each functional area handle this in terms of accessing and processing data and then decision making? This requires knowledge of data collection and processing methods and organisational adaptation to give responses in real time. Depth or Width?

Digital media has become a field in itself. Social Media Marketing, a field within it. How does one apply Social Media Marketing to non-profit organisations? Depth or Width?

The response to these challenges depends not solely on the individual but, is to a large extent dependent on the size and structure of the institution. A big institute with a large and varied student base can afford to have specialist faculty by topic and sector. This takes care of the Depth. The Width of knowledge of the individual faculty can come through continuing interaction among faculty, joint teaching and external inputs from industry and thought leaders. Is all this easy? No! But, there are examples of thought leaders among faculty. Such faculty members could become mentors for other faculty.

AppLy Now