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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2866

Producing Management Graduates of Global Quality: Challenges for Sri Lanka Universities

By Professor Nalin Abeysekera

In Sri Lanka, we are talking about the role of the citizen with different interpretations. As citizen how we can contribute to the development of the nation is something which should redefine in this context. But the expectation of this article is to discuss the challenges we have in Sri Lankan universities in terms of producing Management Graduates of Global Quality.

Who is a Graduate?

Now we can see many experts want to link employability with the graduate output of the country. They always like to use the word “Employability” in the definition of “Graduate”. I consider this as something very much similar to Marketing Myopia, a short-sighted and inward-looking approach to marketing that focuses on the needs of the company instead of defining the company and its products in terms of the customers' needs and wants. If we want to define a graduate for operationalization you can have great insight from late Weliwitiye Sri Soratha Thero-the pioneer of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura.

Refer below quotation,

“It is our mission to present the society with intellectual and not merely to breed graduates. If one endeavor to transform this sacred abode to a place where degrees are sold, or to a place in which students are given degrees in a mere mechanical fashion that will only lead the University as well as the country to be dragged in disgrace. If our graduates are not proven with the expected intellectualism that their degree claims them to possess, people will indubitably arrive at the conclusion that our University is a ‘store’ where degrees are ‘sold’. Thus everybody affiliated to the University should keep in mind not to engage in any act that will undermine the quality of our degree and the research work”.

(Commemoration speech on Rev Weliwitiye Sri Soratha Thero- (available at: http://www.sjp.ac.lk/news/commemoration-speech-on-rev-weliwitiye-sri-sor... ).

Expected Intellectualism

Hence one can argue that the mere usage of “Employability” in the definition of the graduate is underestimated the real meaning of a graduate. I would like to elaborate the word of “expected intellectualism” which is mentioned by Reverend Weliwitiye Sri Soratha Thero. An intellectual is a person who engages in critical thinking and reading, research, and human self-reflection about society. Not only you should think and read but you have to have human self-reflection which is one of the key requirements for the intellectual. So this is something which we are expecting from a graduate. In other words, a graduate who has Intelligence Quotient(IQ) and Emotional Intelligence (EI).

Intelligence Quotient(IQ) and Emotional Intelligence (EI)

According to Forbes: “IQ tests are used as an indicator of logical reasoning ability and technical intelligence. A high IQ is often a prerequisite for rising to the top ranks of business today. It is necessary, but it is not adequate to predict executive competence and corporate success. By itself, a high IQ does not guarantee that you will stand out and rise above everyone else.”The same article reveals that the research carried out by the Carnegie Institute of Technology shows that 85% of your financial success is due to skills in “human engineering,” your personality and ability to communicate, negotiate, and lead. Shockingly, only 15% is due to technical knowledge.

Additionally, Nobel Prize-winning Israeli-American psychologist, Daniel Kahneman found that people would rather do business with a person they like and trust rather than someone they don’t, even if the likable person is offering a lower quality product or service at a higher price. So there are many factors to be considered in voting than your “brain”.

In this context, the concept of Emotional Intelligence (EI) is really important. According to Goleman (who is serving as an author, psychologist, and science journalist; for 12 years, he wrote for The New York Times, specializing in psychology and brain sciences), EI is a construct as an array of positive attributes including political awareness, self-confidence, conscientiousness, and achievement motives rather than focusing only on an intelligence that could help individuals solve problems effectively (Brackett &Geher, 2006).

In his 1996 book Emotional Intelligence, Goleman argued that EQ (or emotional intelligence quotient) might actually be more important than IQ.“IQ is still recognized as an important element of success, particularly when it comes to academic achievement. People with high IQs typically to do well in school, often earn more money, and tend to be healthier in general. But today experts recognize it is not the only determinate of life success. Instead, it is part of a complex array of influences that includes emotional intelligence among other things.

Adyapanaya and Dyapanaya

Once we study out philosophy we learn Adyapanaya and Dyapanaya, which Adyapanaya mainly discusses how you fill your brain with facts and all and Dyapanaya elaborated on how you can deal with your heart. Some studies mentioned that in ancient days the admission was conducted in some universities were based on Dyapanaya which we can easily relate to Emotional Intelligence.

Imaginative Power with Creativity

The turbulent business environment always demands business practitioners to study the marker carefully. Anyway to be competitive and to become a ‘hit’ in the market there is a need for proper ‘business sense’. For that, you should have more imaginative power with creativity. A certain percentage of that you bring from your genes.

Nevertheless, you should learn how ‘to sense the business environment’. If you always start to follow core subjects and all given text materials in your university or in your college you will become a machine without that ‘sense’.

Now we can see the recognized International Business Universities are having different combinations of the subjects in their curriculum.

A good example (refer to the given box) is the Babson Business School in Massachusetts, US (Babson’s MBA program has been ranked number one in entrepreneurship for 21 consecutive years by US News and World Report and is ranked 58th overall in the Bloomberg Businessweek 2014 rankings. Babson’s undergraduate business program is ranked 26th overall in the Bloomberg Businessweek 2014 rankings).

We can see some combinations which are really important to develop a better business professional in the long run. And in Sri Lanka also, we can see some universities already started some optional courses such as fine arts for their curriculum. William M. Sullivan, a senior scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching argued that liberal-arts programs should help students cultivate "practical reasoning" and prepare them for the world of work.(Glenn,2010).. And also, it can be observed the section of students (especially comes under Generation Y) having a problem of “Empathy” despite their academic credentials. (refer my article on “Wanted! A nation with empathy” via http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-det...). So there is a real need for adaptability in subject combinations with Glocalization.

Personal - Social Responsibility Vs Sigalovada Sutta

In this context as a graduate you need to identify the real meaning of “Responsibility” . The Association of American Colleges and Universities categorized five dimensions of personal and social responsibility (refer below)
Five Key Dimensions of Personal and Social Responsibility

1. Striving for excellence: developing a strong work ethic and consciously doing one’s very best in all aspects of college

2. Cultivating personal and academic integrity: recognizing and acting on a sense of honor, ranging from honesty in relationships to principled engagement with a formal academic honor code

3. Contributing to a larger community: recognizing and acting on one’s responsibility to the educational community and to the wider society—local, national, and global

4. Taking seriously the perspectives of others: recognizing and acting on the obligation to inform one’s own judgment; engaging diverse and competing perspectives as a resource for learning, citizenship, and work

5. Developing competence in ethical and moral reasoning: developing ethical and moral reasoning in ways that incorporate the previous four dimensions, and using such reasoning in learning and in life.

Align with this in the article of “Strengthening the Foundations of Students’ Excellence, Integrity, and Social Contribution” Colby and Sullivan(2009) explain the importance of “practical reasoning”. Here you can see their argument:

“Students need to experience engagement with the world so that they grasp the practical, personal, and moral significance of what they are learning. Hence, the importance of practical reasoning. We see this in the best kind of preparation for a career: teaching practices that place students in their future roles as businesspeople or nurses or teachers or other professionals so that they can experience the many dimensions of knowledge, skill, and responsibility needed to practice these demanding occupations (Colby and Sullivan,2009).”

Moreover, the future the researcher can study “Five Key Dimensions of Personal and Social Responsibility” with The Sigalovada Sutta(Advice to Sigala) in Digha Nikaya which more philosophically and more broadly articulated about how people need to respect the society by having a better understanding of the duties and responsibilities of individuals.

UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The Sustainable Development Goals are a collection of 17 global goals designed to be a "blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all". The SDGs, set in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly and intended to be achieved by the year 2030. Refer below for 17 Sustainable Development Goals.(https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/)

As per the Research Repository of the University of the West of England(UWE) ,Bristol they have examined its portfolio of programs of study, its public, and community engagements and its research activities. In so doing it has created a baseline assessment of the contribution of its arts, creative industries, education, health, science, business, law, environment and technology disciplines to meeting the SDGs(https://uwe-repository.worktribe.com/output/919107)

Refer below for one of the section which University of the West of England (UWE) addresses the SDGs in their entity with different categories.

Global Management Graduate Attributes

This context is important to see what sort of attributes can be considered as important to be with Global Management Graduate. Interestingly the article published by Dee Allen and Colin Simpson discuss attributes of Business management graduate for the year 2020.

Refer below for the details,

Source : Allen, Dee and Simpson, Colin G ORCID: 0000000285913647 (2019) Inquiry Into Graduate Attributes: Reviewing the Formal and Informal Management Curricula. Journal of Management Education, 43 (4). pp. 330358

In that article, they categorized system thinking, Global Literacy, Change Capability, Digital Literacy, Ethical Entrepreneurship, Critical thinking and Business –ready Mind-set as main attributes for business management graduate. .At the moment the University Grant Commission(UGC) in Sri Lanka also have some twelve categories of learning outcome comes under core areas such as

1.knowledge

2.skills

3.attitudes ,values, professionalism and vision for life,

4. Mind-set, and paradigm.

All above are targeting generally for all graduates and there is a need to specify this into management graduate accordingly. . So there is a challenge for Sri Lankan Universities to see how they can adapt certain flavor of this into our(Sri Lankan) own equation aligning with our own value system and culture.

Conclusion

So there are many challenges for Sri Lankan Universities.In Sri Lanka, we can witness many people talking about soft skills. Furthermore we can observe section of people criticizing the output of National Universities claiming that most of the graduates do not have "Soft Skills". The same set of people define "soft skills " as "Language competency and IT skills". But I do not agree with this. We need to read the "Big Picture". The “Big picture “ is not “Employability” , It is something we need to investigate with many perspectives . So there is a challenge for Sri Lankan Universities in Business to produce a global gradate with common sense.We should have a paradigm shift in Higher Education ! (This article is based on a Guest Lecture done for Faculty of Management, University of Peradeniya)

Professor Nalin Abeysekera: (Professor in Management Studies, Open University of Sri Lanka. You can reach Professor Abeysekera on nalinabeysekera@gmail.com)

- Asian Tribune

Producing Management Graduates of Global Quality: Challenges for Sri Lanka Universities
Producing Management Graduates of Global Quality: Challenges for Sri Lanka Universities
Producing Management Graduates of Global Quality: Challenges for Sri Lanka Universities
Producing Management Graduates of Global Quality: Challenges for Sri Lanka Universities
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