Today for our class on Strategic Management our course instructor Dr. Amit Kapoor (co-instructor with Micheal E Porter at HBS), showed us a video of a classroom discussion at HBS on the Volvo trucks case (Volvo Trucks(A) : Penetrating the US market, Prof Orjan Sorwell and others). The class formed part of the course on 'Microeconomics of Competitiveness' and was facilitated by Porter himself.
It was an insightful peek into what happens at arguably one of the top B-Schools in the world. The discussion was well structured by the legend. He explored the locational strategies, the global network, the comparision between Europe and US, the reasons for entering the US, etc. At the end the discussion did produce some quality inputs. But almost all inputs were almost prompted by Porter and a few others were from some really experienced people in the class.
More than a video on a case analysis the clip proved to be a big confidence booster for me. Today I broke the myth of excellence that surrounds prestigious B-Schools outside India. (I already busted my belief on the IIMs much earlier :) ) The image that an average person has on B-Schools like Harvard and the likes is that the people who make it to these institutions are undoubtedly the best in terms of business acumen, insights, and opinions that any student body can offer. However, after listening to some of the views, it became apparent that we here at MDI (maybe I could add top Indian B-Schools) have much better class dicussions, talk more sense and less jargon, and also come to the point faster with less prodding or prompting from faculty.
Well to put some thing in their favour, they listened, and were disciplined in their approach; as in, no one cross talks when another makes a point. (Probably because they were being taped! or because 50% of the grade is towards quality class participation. And we were told that there is an aide who takes notes on the class contributions). I agree that here the major grouse is that students sleep in front of the instructor, don't prepare well, etc. But apart for a strong alumni network I can't see reason for Harvard to be better than any top Indian BSchool. I know that this statement may look blasphemous to many but I have my reasons.
Getting into a top BSchool is more difficult than HBS.
These institutions get the top 2% of India's brightest minds (thats 2,500-3,000 from the top 10 BSchools)
Most of them possess extremely strong analytical skills since they have good engineering backgrounds.
More than 50% of students have previous work experience.
And now this video proves that these guys in HBS are no great shakes.
All said and done, I am really proud of being in MDI and proud to be Indian. It's no wonder that people around the world consider us a smart and intelligent people. Sounds extremely jingoistic, but I don't care!