Sunday, March 9, 2014

Management Education: Industry-Academia Interface in HRD

Industry and Academia Interface: What is missing?
Valedictory address by  T V Rao of the NHRDN Jaipur and Fortis on 8th March, 2014

I thank Prof. Bapna, NHRDN Jaipur chapter  and Fortis Health care for inviting me to this conference. I have five points to make for your consideration. However t before I make them for your consideration I would like to say that the National HRD Network itself and its formation is an outcome of Academic-Industry Interface. The NHRDN was started by academics from IIMA and XLRI with support from industry. The very objective is to promote the HRD movement in the country which was conceptualised at IIMA and Larsen and Toubro found that it makes business sense and provided a platform to implement. The XLRI Centre for HRD, L&T and IIMA were instrumental in its foundation and the body was registered at IIMA with support from Industry leaders. In the initial years it was managed by academics from  IIMA, XLRI and IIHMR etc.  and subsequently HR leaders from industry. The NHRDN is itself an example of collaboration and interface. Academics are associated in getting papers and publishing them. The papers themselves are largely written by practitioners. In the last three conferences special attention has been paid to involve student community through special session and faculty by sponsored research. Academic Institutes collaborate in a big way in all these conferences. NHRDN has also started an academic wing called the Academy of HRD which is largely managed by Academics. The Academy used to conduct a distance education program for practitioners in HR to fill the gaps and subsequently started a Fellow program in collaboration with XLRI. The program has graduated around 25 Doctoral level fellows and they are all serving various institutions as well as industry as academics and practitioners.
There is always scope to do more.  I like to make five points for your consideration for enhancing the Industry academic interface taking HR profession as an example. These points are based on the assumption that there is always scope to do a lot more and are intended to help the same.
1.      In professional courses the curricula should be prepared jointly by academia and practitioners. It is true for all profession like Engineering and technology, management, social work, education, law. Medicine and all fields.
2.      All Institutions of higher education should undertake self renewal exercises preferably facilitated by practitioners with self renewal skills
3.      Practitioners should encourage internships summer, winter and project work etc. and fund them to the extent possible to ensure preparation of quality
4.      Universities and colleges should encourage and facilitate extension work or consultancy and research work collaboratively with the organizations.
5.      Practitioners should update themselves periodically by visiting Institutions of higher learning and learning the recent developments in theory and try to implement the same and share their implementation experiences.  
Point 1: Need for Practitioners’ involvement in curricula: Today standards of education are pathetic. My own experience of using fresh students indicates that they are nowhere near what we used to get prepared forty years ago. Unfortunately very one is working independently. The NHRDN, CII and XLRI are a case in point. Several years ago NHRDN held a number of seminars and conferences that generated competency list for HR. It is published in NHRDN books. The AHRD developed model curricula and passed it on to AIMA, XLRI, SCMHRD and a few other institutions. AHRD itself organised a few programs. Ten years alter the memory is lost as there have been changes in office bearers. They developed a competency model for HR professionals. It is good model but perhaps somewhat  ignored its own previous work and focussed more on HR competencies for IT professionals. However they consulted global knowledge forums. It is yet to find its way to academic institutions including XLRI itself and other institutions that collaborated with it from CII or NHRDN.  Today when I look for competent graduates in HRM the scene is disappointing. If I require 100 basic concepts sand 50 skills for handling HR function I hardly find 10% to 20 % of it in the best of the institutions. See appendix for the competencies of HR people and the academic preparation required. So it is high time that academic institutions involve practitioners in preparing academic curricula. This is true not only for HR but for all professions. The HR Compass of NHRDN or other models like the one evolved by us at TVRLS should find their way to academics institution. I use for example the model of HR competencies (see appendix) in the courses of Talent Management or Intellectual capital and HRD Score card at Institutions like IIMA.
Point 2: Here I like to draw my experiences from project IMPACT sponsored by the Department of Electronics, Govt. Of India, World Bank and the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation. Five years after they have given liberal grants for upgrading electronics and computer education in Colleges of Engineering and technology and polytechnics with the help of IISc, IIT Delhi and Mumbai they found not all institutions are similarly disposed to using of the innovations. TVRLS conducted a study which indicated that adoption of innovations in higher education depended on a number of factors and significant among them is the “Institutional Environment” including its leadership, vision, and faculty processes etc. A tool was developed to bench mark the practices. It is now available for all (see the working paper series of IIMA, 2014 by T. V. Rao and Siddhartha Saxena on Institutional Environment).  These tools can be used by Institutions in the same city or same management and bench mark and improve themselves. Bodies like NHRDN could facilitate such renewal exercises. For example I recommend all Institutions from and around Jaipur to form a  consortium and have small group that can modify this tool,  administer this tool on themselves, benchmark with each other and keep improving themselves. One of the parts of the tool deals with use of practitioners in academics. This effort can also be facilitated by Jaipur HRD Network. It will make a good beginning.
Point 3: BPCL changed its Performance appraisal system a few years. While they paid large sums of money to train about 30 change agents with expertise from the west, for bringing change in their appraisal system it was initiated with a summer trainee from one of the local Management schools. Many institutions have productively used management schools and summer trainees for getting their work done and also to provide learning ground for students and faculty. In XLRI around the time NHRD was conceived, we trained tens summer trainees and sent them out across the country to document the HR practices. It later became a bench marking study and most of the students are HR leaders to day. These experiences indicate a productive way the summer training and industry projects could be sued. Rather than spending enormous amounts of money and getting big and expensive consultants to do work a lot of it could be done n by local management schools.
Point 4: To do these we need competent faculty. It is here that Universities and institutions should have specific grants for faculty development and encourage faculty to offer consultancy and research services to practitioner organizations. They also should encourage outside faculty and practitioners to teach in the schools. The teaching by practitioners makes the education more relevant and also less expensive. Most practitioners are normally happy to teach and are content with small honoraria.
National Professors Scheme of NHRDN:
In order to strengthen the academic inputs and make them more relevant to industry needs and also make available Prominent Professors and HR leaders to teach and share their experiences the NHRDN has started a National Professors scheme. In this scheme the NHRDN identified prominent professors and thought leaders both from academia and industry. Professors like Keith D’Souza and G. P. Rao, Dr. PVR Murthy, Dr. Aquil Busrai, Dwarkanath are accomplished professionals and thought leaders and have both industry and academic experience. They have all around 15 of them have agreed to teach in management schools that are interested in strengthening their student preparation. All that they need is an invitation. The academic institution should prepare half credit courses of 15 sessions across three days or so and allocate their won faculty to teach a part of the course. NHRDN could even think of certification of the students in the course. Jaipur Network can make a consortium of Schools and organises such course for a large number of students so as to maximise the use of the time of such thought leaders.  The next point therefore I like to make is :
Point 5: The National Professors’ Scheme stated by NHRDN serves many of the above purposes if the Institution takes the same seriously and works out a collaborative relationship with NHRDN and the visiting practitioner faculty. Many practitioners take pride in being called a professor or Doctor. The doors of Universities should be opened up for practitioners to register for Ph Ds. NHRDN and ISTD offer some good examples of the same. Several of their members are not Ph. D.s and some are teaching in B schools after they retire.  On the other hand Academic Institutions should become more open and liberal in encouraging those who like to do their Ph. D.s/ a large number of professionals today from industry re interested in doing their Doctorates. We have excellent examples in NHRDN itself. Three of the former Presidents got their Ph. D.s at a later part of their work life.  The AHRD stated a Doctoral level fellow program of AHRD continues. When I was on the Planning Board of Indira Gandhi Open University in mid eighties I proposed to Dr. Ramie Reddy the need for starting a Doctoral Program for practitioners using a list of about 100 Management Professors across the country as guides.  I gave the x example of the doctoral candidates from IIMA who get access to data from industry with contacts of professors like Udai Pareek, S K Bhattacharya etc. I mentioned that Indian Managers are sitting on mountains of data and if they are given a research orientation and guidance they will be able to convert them into thesis and produce far greater contributions than their western counterparts. Dr. Reddy agreed but by the time the proposal reached the University bodies he left IGNOU and the subsequent Vice Chancellors had other priorities. The proposal got shelved but we picked it up in AHRD and demonstrated with the help of XLRI it is possible to have a nationwide doctoral program with guides all across. AHRD still continues this crusade though its sponsor XLRI withdrew to promote their own program. I recommend Universities to become more open to such programs. It is ironical that some Universities stop recognising P the same Professor as a Ph. D. Guide once he retires at the age of 60. It should be the other way. At 60 you have a lot of wisdom, time and experience. You probably can guide and mentor students better. Universities should open themselves to recognise any established professor after sixties a Professor of Eminence and use his or her talent.
Jaipur Network has distinction of having a lot of Economists HRD Network members. The relationship between Economic development and HRD are inseparable. I hope Jaipur Network s wills how the way to others.
My Best wishes.
Appendix Notes:

Preparing HRD managers professionally.

The Academy of Human Resources Development in 1992 itself has prescribed the following minimum standards to qualify as a sound HRD professional: The candidate should have studied and passed a minimum of the following ten courses:

1.   Introductory Course on Organisations: Structure and Dynamics
2.   Human Behaviour in Organisations
3.   Integrated HRD Systems: Introductory course in HRD
4.   Performance Planning, Analysis, Review, Appraisal and Development
5.   Career Planning, Dynamics and Development
6.   Potential Appraisal and Development
7.   Training and Development
8.   Organisation Development and OD Interventions
9.   HRD Strategies and Interventions for Workmen
10. Personal Growth Laboratory

In MBA programmes the first two courses are normally offered as compulsory courses and hence the additional eight courses are needed to be completed to get qualified as a trained HRD professional.
In order to be a qualified Human Resource (HR) professional the candidate needs to complete the following additional courses:
For industrial relations competencies
♦    Labour Laws
♦    Employee Welfare
♦    Collective Bargaining
♦    Trade Unions
♦    Work Redesign and other HR Interventions for Organisational Effectiveness

For personnel management
♦    Recruitment
♦    Manpower Planning
♦    Human Resources Information System
♦    Wage and Salary Administration and Reward Management

Separate standards are prescribed from time to time through diploma programme run by the National Institute of Personnel Management along these lines.
The two-year programmes offered by institutions like the XLRI Jamshedpur, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, Symbiosis Institute, Pune, etc., offer comprehensive programmes on HR including HRD, IR and HRM. The specialisation in human resources management may or may not include a full HRD component depending on the institution offered.

Competencies of HRD Managers
Recently TVRLS has listed the following ten competencies required by HR Managers
1. Business Knowledge: Knowledge of business (products, services, customers, technology, competitors, developments, R&D) and all functions (Sales and marketing, Production and operations, Finance, systems, MIS, logistics, services etc.), Knowledge of Business capital (intellectual+++) and its constituents and methods of building Business capital
2. Functional Excellence: (i)  HR Knowledge, (ii) HR Delivery including culture sensitivity, empathy, coaching and facilitation
3.  Leadership and Change Management: (i) Communication, (ii) Initiative, and (iii) creativity and (iv) Change management
4.  Strategic Thinking: Analytical ability, cost and quality sensitivity, Ability to spot opportunities, anticipate and find alternate ways of solving problems
5.  Personal Credibility
6. Technology Savvy: including HR technology and Research Methods
7. Personnel Management and Administrative skill
8. Vision of the function and Entrepreneurship
9. Learning Attitude and Self Management: (i) self awareness and desire to learn (ii) Time management, (iii) Networking, (iv) Research and analytical skills
10. Execution Skills: (i) Planning and Monitoring skills, (ii) cultural sensitivity, (iii) persuasive skills, (iv) Behaviour modification techniques and  group dynamics, (v) ability to  craft interventions for implementation, (vi) cost and quality sensitivity

Source: Rao, T. V. HRD Score Card 2500, New Delhi, Sage India, Response Books, 2008.

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