How B-School Training Addresses The Importance Of Inter Organizational Leadership And Networks

Prof. Janat Shah, Founding Director, Indian Institute of Management, UdaipurA mechanical engineer from IIT Bombay, Prof. Shah has been responsible for management education programs for executives in several companies, including Aditya Birla Group, Bharti Airtel, IBM, Infosys Ltd., Inger soll Rand, among others

In today's economy no organization is an island. Organizations collaborate with each other across industry boundaries on technology marketing, innovation, research, supply chain and many other key aspects. Organizations are connected with each other forming constellations of collaborations known as Inter organizational Networks or Value Chains or Ecosystems. Interestingly many resources that influence the performance of one organization are controlled by other companies. In such an environment, it is vital that managers are trained to deal with the dynamics of inter organizational linkages and leverage the networks around them.

Traditionally inter organizational leadership has not been an important part of the curriculum however, all premium schools understand its significance. There are certain components of B-school experience which directly focus on issues related to inter organizational management while there are other elements which focus on developing a collaborative mindset which is essential for working in a network environment. Here are a few ways in which top management schools prepare students for inter organizational management

Developing Inter Organizational Management Skills through Curriculum
There are formal courses in organizational dynamics which address topics like group relations, conflict, teamwork and distributed leadership on a conceptual level. In addition, the business strategy course deals with managing value chains where the best practices in managing inter organizational challenges are discussed.

All excellent B-schools employ the case method as a pedagogy which addresses some of these issues.
Most case studies deal with reallife situations where students are forced to consider various dimensions of a problem and usually involve multiple business functions and entities like suppliers and customers. Even though a case may be related to marketing but the approach may involve interaction with the advertising agency, content creators and other agencies. Students understand the significance of dealing with and influencing people who play a key role despite not being part of the same organization. Further, group project is another useful tool which allows students to develop a collaborative mindset.

A number of B-Schools utilize immersion exercises as part of their curriculum. These exercises aid future managers to immerse themselves in reality and develop an understanding of knowledge in a wider context

A number of B-Schools utilize immersion exercises as part of their curriculum. These exercises aid future managers to immerse themselves in reality and develop an understanding of knowledge in a wider context.

Given the fact that any real life issue demands inter organizational network functioning, these immersion experiences sensitize students to deal with inter organizational issues and challenges. Premium B-schools have components like international immersion, rural immersion working on live projects etc. to appreciate on the ground experiences and challenges faced in a real scenario which in turn again streng then some of the relevant skills.

Outside the Classroom All top management schools try to build an environment where students are prepared for working in an inter organizational set up by design. Good B-Schools, including IIMs, uphold a culture of student festivals and other events where teams comprising of a large number of students work together. A rich community life outside the classroom allows a spectrum of experience to its students. Presence of multiple clubs and committees in management schools encourages students to develop a collaborative mindset which is among the top five soft skills in demand today(source: LinkedIn Global List 2020).

Today, the recruitment scenario is changing faster than ever. As per the Wall Street Journal, top recruiters such as Amazon, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Bain & Co. etc. are now looking to recruit a new wave of management talent from a broader array of institutions. These global companies are seeking a greater diversity of backgrounds and talents at their organizations. They are seeking managers with skills and capabilities which are of different nature. Thus, the changing nature of work calls for trained B-school managers who have skills and capabilities to manage inter organizational networks.

A management professional should develop and apply a variety of skills and use tools which enable better decision making. Picking up and sharpening these skills is a lifelong process and courses designed for building such skills get students started on this journey. As we have discussed in this article there are certain ways in which B-schools are developing relevant skills and capabilities but still there is substantial ground that needs to be covered so that we are preparing students to perform well in the future work environment.