‘The Durable and the New in Contemporary Business Education’ – Dr. Sudhendra Seshadri at MYRA School Of Business
‘The Durable and the New in Contemporary Business Education’ – Dr. Sudhendra Seshadri – Senior Associate Dean (Academics) & Distinguished Professor of Marketing
Dr. Sudhendra Seshadri, in his first official address to the students in his new role as Senior Associate Dean (Academics) at MYRA School of Business, Mysore chose a fitting topic — “The Durable and the New in Contemporary Business Education”.
His talk was logically divided into two segments — the first half was dedicated to the paradigms in business that have influenced durable principles of business education in the last 2-3 decades; the second half of his talk addressed the four themes that contemporary business education is embracing.
He explained that the traditional view of business with a mantra of “Buy Low—Sell High” saw a single bottom line — Financial Profit or Loss —that measured fiscal performance to evaluate the success of an organization. This simplistic mantra has evolved today. Taking students through durable ruling paradigms, he identified two mantras: “Create Value — Capture Value” and “Buy Competencies— Sell Performances”.
He then journeyed through developments during the last 2-3 decades. New pricing strategies for a Volume-Business-Approach with decreasing margins per unit, both offline and online Retail Markets have brought in a systemic transformation in the way business today operates, he said. Companies like Wal-Mart, Carrefour, Metro, Tesco, which have been doing business for long years have set new thinking of Activity-Based-Costs (ABC’s), Transaction Costs and Property-Rights contracting into practice. Amazon, Flipkart, Uber, Ola, e-Bay and a host of other companies use the electronic screen with this paradigm. These strategies and approaches have resulted in a new value proposition though with still a single financial bottom line — a Win-Win-Win for all its stakeholders— the consumer, the retailer and the brand – a “Stack High – Sell Low” mantra – for their business platforms.
This gradually transitioned into a double bottom line when people, rather the social impact was brought in as another factor to enumerate the success of an organization. This scenario where the product ‘Design’ is no more a technical domain, but indeed dictates as the marketing USP; this paradigm of innovatively designed and differentiated products and services has meant that the vision-and design-approach builds the ‘brand’, and with it, the Design Department of brands has come to work under the Chief Marketing Officer, changing the mantra to “Buy-Design—Sell Identities”. People plus Profit — a double bottom line thus came into existence. Further, the customer’s life-time purchases from building relationships justified upfront costs of acquiring customers —a product may be a one-time purchase but the recurring purchases of complementary consumables set the cash rolling in; the new mantra became “Buy Customers—Sell Lifetimes” – a double bottom line proposition, again.
With the social significance of sustainable business solutions a new corporation — the B-Corp (The Benefit Corporation) —has emerged as a legal entity. Its focus on the triple bottom line — People Planet and Profit —is the new business proposition and is here to stay, he emphasized. Aravind Eye Care is a classic example of the Indian Social Enterprise validating the DWBDG (Do Well By Doing Good) concept: “Buy Just – Sell Good” is its new mantra.
In the remainder of his talk, Dr. Seshadri related the new mantras to the new themes in contemporary business education —according to him, the Four “IN” themes.
IN-dia is the place which has huge spending power and demand for all sorts of products and services. Management education in India has an important role to play in national deployment of cutting-edge and innovative solutions for sustainable-productivity growth, he said. “What goods and services will your generation produce and consume”? he asked – ”and with what carbon footprints”? New business models to provide environmental services to substitute damaging climate change externalities are in the hands of the new Indian business managers, he opined.
An IN-terdisciplinary approach in business education brings together competitive advantage and compliance issues in your fiduciary duties, he deliberated. “Real-world problems do not come packaged in disciplinary boxes, so challenges you face in business are not just ‘Finance’ or ‘Marketing’ or ‘Information Systems’ or ‘Operations Management’ problems. Business solutions to real world problems require interdisciplinary approaches. Such a holistic approach can translate well to efficiency, effectiveness and innovation, he said. To validate his thoughts, Dr. Sudhi Seshadri made a special note of how the Bhopal Gas Tragedy could have been perhaps avoided if an Interdisciplinary approach had been followed. Design Compromises were made in design for financial reasons, to bring investments by foreign entities under lowered tax rates; insufficient respect for organic agriculture and an undue faith in macro-marketing systems of agrichemicals of dubious value created demand pressures, impossible price-cost trade-offs, and too-low margins for adequate safety measures; poor Operations Management coupled with neglected commodity futures created massive stocks of chemical inventory physically on the premises, resulting in poor maintenance schedules of critical facilities and violation of safety protocols; Human Resource Department drastically failed in providing adequate training and allocation of responsibility resulting in under-reported EHS violations—altogether this ‘disciplinary’-silo-ized approach contributed to the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, he reflected.
He observed that today business education formally recognizes conflicts of internal stakeholder interests and resulting strategic behavior. So it is not only about efficient techniques, but about motivations and IN-centives. He explained that because the larger society has many stakeholders, the new business education system should and increasingly does embrace instruments to adjust the incentives of both internal and external stakeholders
Last but not the least, IN-tegrity is important to business relationships, he elucidated. The role of integrity at the personal and the organizational level must be emphasized by your business education because the complexity and inscrutability of modern business rises each day. Moral Hazard prevention is a huge problem – as the financial bubble in Western economies demonstrated.
He concluded his talk by reiterating the continuous need for business education to be guided by the principles of the Triple Bottom Line —People, Planet and Profit.
MYRA School of Business is founded on the guiding principles of the triple bottom line— financial, environmental and social performances of business enterprises. MYRA’s Centre for Excellence in Sustainable Business Innovation (CESBI) launched in January 2013, provides an open platform for researchers, students, policy-makers, corporations, academic institutions, and non-profit organizations, to work in this direction and publish ground breaking research that addresses today’s challenges; define tomorrow’s problems and showcase regional and global developments in sustainable innovation.
Students participated with a lively Q&A session post the talk. Dr. Abhinanda Sarkar, Associate Dean and Director of Research, Dr. Sudhindra H Rao, Professor of Information Systems and Dean—Student Affairs were present on the occasion.