Has the MBA in Nepal Lost its Relevance?

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Has the MBA in Nepal Lost its Relevance?

--By Krishna Khanal

Many entrepreneurs and companies in Nepal consider it necessary for an employee to earn an MBA to advance their careers. But at the same time, are business schools in Nepal producing graduates worth the hype?

Most of the business school programmes in Nepal are theory oriented. They use the traditional tools of case studies, lectures, film and discussions. They teach ideas and not real life behaviour. Most of the programmes emphasise the skills of analysis and calculation. MBA education in Nepal is suffering from a narrowly defined curriculum, a shortage of qualified faculty, and the traditional teaching styles.  MBA students in Nepal know a lot but can’t put it into practice. 

From very beginning, business schools have focused on knowing knowledge. They have been highly analytical. They teach economics, statistics, finance, accounting and more. Much less is focused on doing and being.  This leaves graduates ill prepared for most of the work of managers which involves complex and messy problems that have no easy solutions. These graduates have very limited real world experience. At the same time, these programmes offer an insufficient style of management and fall short in the discussion of ethics. Most MBA programmes in Nepal train the wrong people in the wrong ways with the wrong consequences.

These students are not able to respond sufficiently to the interests of stakeholders and society at large. They are very weak when it comes to understanding organisational realities: Power, politics, coalitions and the realities of implementation. 

This can be changed. Students need to get into organisations and do supervised projects. Students need some exposure to the real world of business practice. Thunderbird School of Global Managements sends students on seven-week consulting projects in markets such as Nepal, India, and Vietnam. They experience first-hand how business is done in that particular region.

Management schools need to put more emphasis on doing rather than telling, giving students experience working in an emerging market or in role-playing situations that force them to examine their ethics and act on them. In Nepal, MBA students from King’s College, Kathmandu stay with the top 20 entrepreneurs selected from the Daayitwa Enterprise challenge 2016 in Gulmi district. The selected entrepreneurs are located 3-4 hours drive away from the district headquarters in the rural part of the district. The students are provided with lodgings and food by the entrepreneurs’ at their home living just like their family members.

Universities and colleges in Nepal need to adjust MBA programmes to the changing times. Managers in Nepal will continue to face intense competition at home. MBA education needs to change to prepare business leaders competent for the 21st century. We need a new kind of business education that links industry, society and the university.  What MBA programmes in Nepal need to do is persuade students to go out and work in the real world and get their hands dirty. MBA programmes should inspire students to be not only bankers and administrators, but also to be entrepreneurs, risk takers and change leaders. Let’s hope things will change for the better.

The writer teaches marketing and ethics to business students.

satish katwal