IIM Lucknow vs Copenhagen Business School – A first hand account of the differences in the academic environment

Having spent more than two months as part of the international student exchange program attending classes at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark has given me adequate time to understand first hand, the significant differences between the management education environment in Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow and Copenhagen Business School, Denmark.

Library at CBS

Faculty: All the teachers in my 4 courses I had at CBS were significantly older, with a wealth of experience in either the industry or in academic research, than their Indian counterparts. As a result, they would bank more on their own experience or body of research work to teach than on slides from the textbook’s website. Only a few models here or there would be from the text where relevant. My professor in Business-to business marketing would always spend the first 15 minutes picking an article from that day’s paper and discussing B2B’s relevance to it. This methodology was added motivation to listen in class since, if you missed something, it would most likely remain missing as you were unlikely to retrieve the information shared from the teacher’s personal experiences on the internet.

Students: The attitude of the European students was in stark contrast to us. Most people I talked to were genuinely interested in the course and would be very sincere in coming for the class prepared with the assigned reading(s). As a result, the class participation from these folk was, for the most part, authentic. They would not talk a lot, but when they chose to, it was worth lending an ear. I honestly found only a few questions/discussions in my 2 months here from my European peers that I could classify as ‘globe’. I have also had the opportunity of looking at some of the report submissions made by the European students. As they tend have more work experience than us, it was reflected in these submissions. For example, a student who was a manager in an MNC had submitted a report in a course on building trust in international firms, wherein he talked about the different behaviours of his Indian, Italian and the Scandinavian counterparts. He went on to say, whenever the Indian manager had a query or wanted to know if the work was done, he would always resort to email, while the Scandinavian always called. The Italian had a propensity to exaggerate/dramatize the problems she faced with her clients. Over a period of time each began to understand one another better and made adjustments. I probably learnt more HRM from reading this student’s assignment than my entire HR course in my first year! Here was a true example of how in an MBA program, you learn not just from the faculty, but also from your peers! The Europeans (and the Chinese) also took their exams far more seriously than we ever did. They prepared for the exams for weeks together. However, I attribute this disparity in efforts to the fact that most Indians visiting CBS view it more as a Euro trip than an educational one.

Copenhagen Business School – Main Building

Student – teacher interaction: Students and teachers interacted as peers. No ‘Sir’ or ‘Ma’m’ to be heard. The teacher would indulge in a very natural conversation with the student during class participation. Most Indians would tend to preface their personal questions after class with a ‘Sir’.

Oral exams: A lot of the courses had an oral exam (viva). From my friend’s experiences, I could gather that you are expected to be pretty thorough with the theories discussed in the class from the text. Apart from knowing how to apply the theories, you also were sometimes quizzed on how the authors of 2 texts differed in their approach to a particular problem. So, an in depth reading of the texts was needed to score well. Quite a few of my friends ended up barely making the passing grade as they only read from the slides.

Assignment evaluation: The most noticeable difference in the evaluation of the assignments was the strict requirement that they be original. Any hint of plagiarism was strictly forbidden and heavy punishment, ranging from failing the student to disbarring him, was guaranteed. Hence, we all had to work doubly hard to ensure every website we used in helping us build our report was listed in the reference. Even the management models in our reports used had to meet this requirement.

Course rigor: The course rigor was much lower than what we experience back in India. Many courses had only 2 or 3 classes (out of roughly 10) with a pre reading or a case which had to be read before coming to class. No group presentations or everyday submissions. The course my friend had taken in operations had no quantitative aspect to it, which came as a big surprise.

IIM Lucknow

Class duration: Most classes were once a week, and ran for 3 – 4 hours! This was shocking to see at first. After talking with European students, I came to learn that most students are working part time and so, coming to CBS 2 – 3 days a week and working the rest was the norm. However, this meant long sessions per subject, once a week. While I understand that there is a legitimate need for this type of session, I wonder about its effectiveness. It is difficult for almost any student anywhere to concentrate for more than 1 hour continuously, and 3 – 4 hours is outrageous. The teacher does give a break for 10 min after every hour or so, so the problem is mitigated to an extent. But only to an extent, for, you are basically having 3 classes of the same subject continuously.

These are the little things that caught my eye at my short stint in CBS. I certainly believe that there are some good things we can borrow from them (like the lack of over reliance on slides) to further improve the quality of our management education.


R Maheswaran is a second year PGP student at IIM, Lucknow. He was an atheist until he read the works P G Wodehouse. A computer science graduate from NIT, Tiruchi, he has worked with Cisco in the past. He interned with Microsoft in the summers.


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my name is Sascha and I want to inform different people, you too, about discrimination, and other not so normal things, at Copenhagen Business School.
So, on 29.8.2013 I was kicked out from CBS by campus service because I collected bottles (for those who are foreigners, in DK many people exchange empty bottles for money in food-stores) and I got answer from CBS at 18.Sept.2013. Cleaning woman brought me to them and tried to convince them that I can steal something and they told me I must go out. After my discussion with them, they accepted I can be in the building but I can’t come in in classrooms. So, they changed already their story, first they spoke one thing and then another thing. Then I complained to CBS and my email was forwarded to Legal office of CBS and Stine Schow Pedersen answered to me that cleaning woman said I disturbed lectures and school has problem with loud bottle collectors, etc, but in the end she wrote that I can collect bottles in classrooms too as long as I don’t disturb lectures, so, after classes I can do it. I was happy with such decision but not for a long time. After that, till November 23, I was kicked out by campus service 3 times more, all together 4 times. Usually they don’t want to tell me their names and they don’t care what somebody told me (I tell them that legal office allowed me to collect bottles). By logic, legal office is higher in hierarchy but in reality it is different.
I can add about myself that I look normal, not like homeless, and I never came drunk and I never made noise at CBS. I don’t drink, smoke, etc. I can support decision that loud or drunk person, student or not, get kicked out that day, but kicking out people on the basis of material situation is discrimination.

If I say all Africans steal just because they collect bottles, it is clear discrimination, the same as if I say all Germans are pedophiles if some of them go to Thailand and buy sex with kids. I can not say also that all Danish students are junkies because many of them drink very much, alcohol is drug for me but I will not say that all Danish students are drug addicts because it would be again discrimination.
So, again, if somebody is problematic, student or not, he can be kicked out for that day until he becomes normal again. But to kick people because they collect bottles, it is discrimination.
I can ask also:
When employees of CBS are discriminators, can this school produce social responsible managers for business? Beside such discriminators, corporate social responsibility will be just marketing, to make better PR image of company or school, people and planet will be destroyed by managers who must produce profit for shareholders of some company. CBS produce managers, therefore CBS has responsibility in decreasing discrimination of poor people who are often exploited in Africa and Asia by managers (yes, by managers, shareholders are enjoying in Swiss Alps, they don’t have contact with workers). For example, 60% of child labor in India is done for subcontractor of Monsanto corporation. Not only employees than students also, they should never discriminate those who are poorer than they are. Majority of poor people in this world are not homeless than workers, they work but they are low paid and they stay very poor. Beside it, even there are kids of rich people studying at CBS, they must remember that not all children in Denmark have parents or they don’t have rich parents and consequently they will not have such chances like children of rich people who have already connections to get good position in society. Some things didn’t change from the middle age till today. if you have parents who are high positioned, you will get whatever you want, therefore at least you don’t need to be a snob. As we can see, even low paid campus service can imitate snobs and discriminate other people. Cleaning woman was hungry for money, so, it is clear why she was against me. She takes minimum 150 DKK per day from collecting bottles in so many amphitheaters/classrooms and she is angry if somebody else takes bottles, it is shame for the school that she run to take bottles even she get salary. She comes 20 minutes before class is finished just to come in the room before bottle collectors. Crazy. I never thought about bottles when I had job, some people run for bottles even they have a job.

I can also add some other things:
Thanx to my complaint to Legal Office, group rooms and classrooms are not anymore fast locked by campus service than students can stay inside longer time. I said to legal office that school get accreditation on the basis of facilities for students and if it is locked than it is not there for students than just to get accreditation. Thanx to me, students can use their spaces as long as they want.

Computers in group rooms at CBS are prehistoric already several years, from 1997 or similar, administrators of network behave like NSA, they limited PCs and workstations like in dictatorship, in fact there should be no workstations then normal computers, if somebody wants to misuse something, Internet Explorer is enough (for example, to send email threat to Obama), so, limitations are comic and stupid. They snitch students like in Iraq in the time of Saddam.

Security said in one article at Internet (http://atea.dk/references/copenhagen-business-school.aspx) they installed 60 cameras at CBS and they never caught a thief, 2 times they got a photo of thieves but police never found them. So, I can make presumption that security personal and network admins got job with help of secret service (PET), it means they snitch students who can organize and protest against government. In every country, university is basis for protests for better future and better world. In every country, secret service has big interest to spy students. Students and their organizations should fight against such snitching, if you organize protest, secret service can take care that you don’t pass exams, that you don’t get job tomorrow, etc. Antiwar groups and protesters are usually seen by secret service as domestic terrorists. Therefore they want to spy students so much.
There is and economic side of 60 cameras: if I am chef of security and I decide where I will spend money to buy 60 or 160 cameras, I can make a deal with sellers to share money. I buy from their company and they give me 10% from profit. Business is always full of corruption and security chef make business also, beside his job to catch thieves (and he never succeeded to catch them, he rather discriminate bottle collectors).
And network admin can profit from deals with private companies when he decides which company will supply university with PC hardware and licensed software.

So, anybody saw Hells Angels to collect bottles? I don’t think so. I never saw even Danish drug addicts to collect bottles, 99% of collectors are immigrants, mostly from Africa and Asia, some people even go with cars to different festivals just to collect bottles. It is clear that the hate against bottle collectors is clear racism and sometimes it is material discrimination. There are the both discrimination in every society although poor societies don’t have so high level of material discrimination as western societies.

That’s all.

with best regards,