Lessons from COVID-19 to take centre stage at B-schools


New Delhi: The lessons learnt from COVID-19 pandemic and long term consequences of the disruption caused by the lockdown, are set to take centre stage at premiere business schools in the country with many of them already gearing up to introduce them in the curriculum.

Effects on economy, changing dynamic of human resources management due to work from home, price controls, sustainability, localism, business strategies for natural disasters and epidemics, risk management, decision making under uncertainty, are among the topics that are being discussed for inclusion in academic learning and discussions.

Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Calcutta, director Anju Seth told PTI that several colleagues at the institute are actively following the recent developments and their consequences will be incorporated and discussed as part of courses in Economics, Business Environment, Strategy, Marketing and other areas.

“As business schools we have to step in and create content which can inform businesses and managers moving forward. I also expect that the nature of such an attempt should be rooted in cross-disciplinary elements,” said Professor Vipul Mathur from the institute’s Economics Group.  

“For instance, in the standard macroeconomics course, we mostly delve on how to think about standard shocks that the economy is subjected to, and how such shocks get reverberated through the economy,” Mathur said.

He said the courses available do no offer any readymade pandemic plan for economic policy, be it fiscal or monetary.

“This also makes for a very exciting time to build a course, the content and application of which will, literally, be unfolding in real time. The challenge will be to go back to the drawing board with the broad contours of standard economics that we know of and then weave in this pandemic shock with some cross-disciplinary insights from areas of strategy and finance,” he added.

According to G Raghuram, director, IIM Bangalore, the faculty is working on different aspects of the pandemic including impact on start-ups, technology, economy and business as well as education.

“Our faculty is at the forefront of thought leadership on different aspects of the pandemic – impact on start-ups, technology, economy and business, education, healthcare etc. They have been sharing their ideas in different forms.

“Some faculty members are developing more researched papers which could go onto being published in academic journals. Much of this will flow into classrooms as applications of concepts. There could also be cases written which would lead to material for classroom discussion,” he told PTI.

While IIM Lucnow and IIM Indore are also working on introducing various aspects of COVID-19 pandemic in the curriculum, IIM Raipur and Sambalpur are yet to take a call on this.

 According to academicians at Gurgaon-based Management Development Institute (MDI), students should be prepared to face such transition in the corporate world.

“In the light of COVID 19, a ‘new normal’ is a less financially leveraged world with more government interventions. Businesses may experience more prudence, less consumerism and low risk investment,” said Rupamanjari Sinha Ray, assistant professor, economics area, MDI Gurgaon.

Social distancing and low growth have led to new business and economic challenges due to reverse migration, unemployment, low productivity, investment and liquidity challenges, public policy changes, and low international trade, she noted.

“Strategic changes in organizations and expansionary fiscal policies are required for sustainable growth. Students should be prepared to face such transition in the corporate world, she said.

Ray said learning pedagogy in B-Schools may include online teaching mode along with case studies and discussions on COVID related macroeconomic environmental analysis, risk management, decision making under uncertainty, resource optimization, business ethics dilemma, behavioural changes and low-cost innovation in various industrial sectors.

The curriculum may incorporate new business opportunities for India due to geo-political and economic changes,” she added.

Xavier School of Management (XLRI), Jamshedpur, which is known for its HR-focused course, said future business leaders need enhanced “Resilience Quotient” to respond to unpredictable events like pandemics and similar adverse black swan-like events.

“B-Schools must incorporate in their curriculum the widespread adverse impact and learnings of pandemics like COVID 19 on society at large and business in particular. More importantly, the community at large and organizations, in particular, need to take conscious resilience-building measures to withstand and overcome unpredictable events that have an adverse impact – globally or locally,” said Sunil Varughese, Chief Brand & Sustainability Officer, XLRI

“Future business leaders should develop skill-sets over time to enhance their ‘Resilience Quotient’ to respond to unpredictable events like pandemics and similar adverse black swan-like events,” he said.

Moreover, organizations both small and large need to proactively react compassionately to help mitigate the pain and sufferings of internal and external stakeholders and society at large during such adverse events,” he added. The country has been under a lockdown since March 25 to contain spread of COVID-19 throwing economic activities out of gear. The lockdown has been extended till May 17.