Visiting Fulbright Scholar Looks for Ways to Produce Better Leaders

Posted: January 4, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Stephanie Kriner

When Asha Bhandarker, a Fulbright Scholar from India, researched how business schools in her home country trained future managers, she was disappointed at the results. “Top schools were not shaping students into managers and future leaders,” she says. Bhandarker, who is being hosted by the School of Public Policy (SPP), found the schools were focusing on theories, ignoring the importance of interpersonal skills and, ultimately, failing to mold the kind of leaders Indian and global companies need.

Asha Bhandarker
Asha Bhandarker
Public Policy Currents Photo

Today, the Indian corporate world lays strong emphasis on people management skills such as leadership and teamwork. In addition, corporations also emphasize the need for “flexibility, ambiguity tolerance, and the capacity for innovative thinking,” she wrote in her Fulbright proposal. She added that the Enron and Anderson “debacles” raised concerns about the values schools are teaching future leaders.

During her eight-month stay in the United States, Bhandarker is studying how certain U.S. business schools are training students to become better business leaders in the future. She is examining four schools that stand out as the most progressive, according to her preliminary research: the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University; the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University; and the Darden School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia.

From these examples, Bhandarker hopes to write about how Indian business schools can improve their curricula. “My focus is on best practices,” explains Bhandarker, a professor at the Management Development Institute, a top-ranked Indian business school in Gurgaon (a town near Delhi known as one of the leading outsourcing capitals in the world).

While Mason is not among the schools in her study, Bhandarker still considers her time here to be part of her learning experience. Being immersed in such a diverse culture has been an eye-opener, she says. “What I love about Mason is the diversity,” she says. “As the world becomes increasingly global, the skills needed to manage can be acquired in such an environment.”

While working in her office in the Finley Building, she says she also has become inspired by SPP faculty and staff. She adds, “It’s very stimulating to be here and see the pace at which people work.”

This article originally appeared in a slightly different form in Public Policy Currents.

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