A recent article published in the Wall Street Journal reported that Indian Business Schools fared very poorly in a certain University of Texas report based on the research of a school’s faculty published in the Top 25 management journals . Fair enough, but based on this the journalist went on to suggest that for Indian B schools, joining the “global league” is still a “distant dream”.
Although the figures reported are not surprising, but the alarm raised by a source as authoritative as WSJ in interpreting the report surely is. Disagreeing I decided to write to the author, the email is excerpted here:
First, I do not doubt the veracity of the findings that Indian B schools do not figure in the rankings when top tier management journals are considered.
But the point I wish to drive home is does that or should that really matter to an Indian B school. There are multiple reasons why I say this. The first two relate to the biased nature of the publishing process, which makes it harder for Indians and the next two about why then it is not worth expending energies on these.
1. Publishing in these journals is about being a part of the club. Since these top journals are almost always US based, so is the bias in the research they include and publish. Anything said in the Indian Context or rather non American Context is only included if it is generalizable enough for an american audience.
2. A typical paper before appearing at a journal is presented at least at 1 small workshop and 1 large conference ( say Academy of Management Review, American Marketing Association). The people who attend these presentations are people who are likely to review the paper. A lot of comments one receives at such meetings are signals towards what you should do to make the paper accepted.
These points obviously make it somewhat clear, why Indian researchers would find it much harder to get into these journals, unless they expend a considerable amount of resources into it. Devoting disproportionate effort at this would take them away from some of the other core activities. But that would lead you to ask, what is their core? To answer this, consider the following points:
1. A fairly productive economist who has been associated with some management schools in India publishes a lot in the Economic and Political Weekly, when asked why does s(he) not target some top (American) journals, answered that (he/she publishes) where the work has a greater impact. It is true. There is no gain to anyone expect the personal prestige of people when one gets published in so called top tier journals. In terms of the ‘core’ for Indian B schools tell me how does that add to the school’s proposition in teaching, consulting or case writing.
2. Our B schools surely need more research oriented faculty, but this idol worship of American Journals is not the research core we wish to strengthen. We need more grounded theory that develops from within the country, informs both teaching and practice. When they win some fellowships and grants from western money they can spend those on getting their articles into American journals……
Would be very keen to hear others’ thoughts on the issue.