An article which tries to understand what is expected from the management institutions and what they deliver.
This article reviews the article “Embracing the sacred in our secular scholarly world” written by the author James P. Walsh, an academician in the University of Michigan and president of the Academy of Management. This article is written in context of the notion present in the management institutions about living in a Golden Age. Author has presented a strong critique on the current culture prevalent in the management institutions which is obsessed with finding ways to rank everything on the basis of some standardized and biased parameters. This obsession has been criticized in removing secularity from the institutions and is preventing the institutions to benefit from the Golden Age. The argument of the author regarding the current trend in the universities is backed by strong reasons and solutions but those reasons and solution do not explore some of the evident positives of current practice and challenges associated with its change.
The article starts the discussion with the perceived Golden Age and reason for such a perception. His approach was opposite of the previous approaches taken by the authors at similar position by boasting of the relevance rather than bemoan on irrelevance of the business education. Occupation of the centre stage of the world by business not only triggered the Golden Age for management personnel but also attracted society’s focus on this side of academics. The author prefers the society attention but this focus has come with an audit culture, which was founded by the society to rank the performance of the management academicians and their institutions. The inability of the society to understand the institutions has lead to such culture. The article criticizes this culture for preventing the total emergence of Golden Age as it has created a new type of biased approach in the system and is threatening its secularity.
Incorporation of audit culture has made faculties focus on their and colleagues rating, making them take approaches which can get them best ranking. The common yardsticks used by the audit culture are the use the number of articles any person has got in “A-rated” journals and how well known and cited his/her work is, which has lead to the rat race among authors as well as among publishing journals. Shift to team research, increase in self citation and increasing acts of fabrication, falsification and plagiarism are some of the indicators used by the author. Such activities have resulted in poor and stagnated research, incorporation of unethical and self-interested behaviour in graduates. However, people like to stay in this profession not for the ranking but more or less for the better life of mind and to serve others, which seems lost in this rat race.
The gravity of the situation can be experienced by the fact that research and teaching are the two pillars of the future of the society. Research decides the relevance and impact of an individual on the future, the question asked is considered most important task in research as it will set the agenda both for research and teaching. Teaching has the power to shape the lives of the people, who in future will be mainly deciding the way society have to live.
Author has provided certain solutions in the article which can help in achieving the dreamed Golden Age. One of the solutions recommended is to interact with the outer world with which currently the academy is very disconnected like India, Africa, etc and learn from them and engaging with them rather than making any outright conclusions. It is stressed to have more and more focus on the questions which are asked rather than the solutions which we have found.
Another point stressed is to show courage to change the evaluation criteria, which is prevalent in institutions from numbers/score to the actual impact in the transformation of the lives of the people and to avoid falling from one folly of to another while making such courage. Further, it has been encouraged to pay no heed to such kind of evaluation criteria when the society use on the university, as university has knowledge to discern, students to teach, and organizations to improve. Finally, transparency on the auditors side regarding the data, which can help the institutions in improving themselves in much better way.