An Integrated Approach to Management Communication at the T.A. Pai Management Institute

Article excerpt

"STAND-ALONE communication courses are still the dominant model in both Indian and US schools," noted an Indian expert. "All communication courses are taught separately and not integrated into the main course curriculum in a formal manner by communication faculty working alongside with the rest of the faculty" (Rajadhyaksha, 2002, p. 51). Although this statement may generalize too much, it does suggest the background against which we revised our management communication instruction at the T.A. Pai Management Institute (TAPMI) in Manipal, Karnataka, India. Our new approach aligns with the ongoing restructuring of the Post Graduate Diploma in Management (PGDM) itself. After briefly describing the selection process for students in the program and the program's mission and approach in general, this article discusses the communication modules we developed.

THE ADMISSIONS PROCESS

The demand for admission to the PGDM at premier institutes is very high in India. On average, TAPMI receives 10,000 applications every year for just 140 seats. The first round of elimination is based on the Common Admission Test (CAT) conducted by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIM). On the basis of their CAT scores, as well as general academic performance and work experience, TAPMI selects about a thousand applicants for 1- or 2-day on-campus tests and interviews. The tests include group discussions and extemporaneous speeches, a psychometric assessment, and an evaluation of their writing abilities. Applicants also participate in two interviews. One is conducted by panels of faculty from TAPMI, alumni, and business leaders from the community invited for this occasion. The alumni and business leaders are also stakeholders as many of them are recruiters of TAPMI students at the end of the PGDM. The process is exhaustive and continues for 10 days; the panel members are changed every day, and approximately 100 students are interviewed during each day. In a final interview, students face a panel of directors of the program, who make the final decision on acceptance or rejection based on test scores and the results of the first interview. Within a week, the results are displayed on the Institute's Web site and letters are issued to the applicants.

THE RESTRUCTURED PROGRAM

The PGDM is a rigorous 2-year course of study that aims to "nurture wealth creators." Recently, TAMPI undertook a thorough restructuring of its PGDM program in line with a new mission statement:

   We are committed to excellence in management education, research
   and practice by nurturing and developing global wealth creators and
   leaders. We shall continually benchmark ourselves against the
   best-in-class institutions. We shall foster continuous learning and
   reflection, achievement-orientation, creative interdependence, and
   respect for diversity with a holistic concern for ethics,
   environment and the society. (The new PGDM of TAPMI: document for
   internal circulation at the T.A. Pai Management Institute, Manipal,
   Karnataka, India, March 2004)

Implemented for the cohort of students entering in June 2004, the new program is divided into 10 themes spread over the 2 years. We are now in the process of implementing the first 6 themes:

Theme 1: Personal competency

Theme 2: Individuals and roles

Theme 3: Firms and markets

Theme 4: Management in Practice, Phase 1, and outbound program

Theme 5: The firm and its functions

Theme 6: The firm's performance

Themes for the 2nd year, under development, include managerial and leadership roles, the firm's context, professional competence, and the complete manager.

In organizing courses and other student activities in support of these themes, TAPMI fosters flexibility and unconventional thinking. Students in the cohort work on one theme at a time, in sequence, and the duration, appropriate activities, and assessment practices vary from theme to theme. …