Thursday, August 5, 2010

Short-sightedness of HBS Alumni

I am writing my opinion on this issue based on information that I have got through a friend and which is also well known in management circles. Though it may not be entirely true, it holds true for at least a wide majority of the alumni of this prestigious institute.

Recently, one of my friends informed me that it is not an exception but almost a trend that all the HBS alumni in various organizations scout for employing their own fellows while making recruitment decisions keeping aside the meritocracy of the candidates that have applied.

There could be two reasons for it; both however compete to be worse than the other. The more I think about it, the more I realize the importance of having the long-term benefits in mind while making crucial decisions.

The first reason could be that the alumni 'genuinely' feels that candidates from their institution have an edge over others and hence would make for a better choice while selecting them as employees. This logic can be very easily refuted because amongst the top institutes it is really difficult to reach a consensus about the superiority of an average student and there is no sacrosanct ranking that distinguishes a particular B-School to be better than the other in all the parameters, across the categories and for consecutive years. Hence, it is unreasonable to believe that there is any “ingenuity” in this feeling.
Of course, there is more to than meets the eye. That brings us to the second reason and that is a hidden desire to see one’s own alumni being better off than others and having an easy way ahead into the corporate world. It would also mean building better prospects of the present batch and the future aspirants and in turn an even better reputation of your alma mater. And that could well be the ‘real’ reason, even if it is not overtly expressed or confessed even to one’s own self. I am sure the same persons would have showed a similar sense of loyalty had they been in any other equally good institution instead of the one being discussed. But, I think being a torch-bearer; the leader has to bear the brunt of critics the most even though its peers might be exhibiting similar traits of behavior.

Well, another ‘reason’ or justification could be that “others are doing it too”. As ridiculous as it may sound, this comes as a rescue for most of the executives who indulge in such behavior and have had their share of dealing with the ineffective discussions ensuing out of the first two justifications.

Ironical, but true, human tendency to chase immediate and selfish returns is far greater than the ability to think rationally in critical situations and if an institution (amongst the world’s best) cannot imbibe this ability into its fellows, it seems we still have a long way to go in terms of imparting the real wisdom (and I am not talking about ethics or morals here, purely on the basis of what best would work in the interest of the organization simply should be motivation enough to start thinking beyond individualistic gains). If there is a real sense of belonging towards the organization, it is easy to see the impact of a more responsible decision in the interest of the company as much more than the petty gains one would get in one’s lifetime by resorting to such measures.

P.S. This is my first real blog written by me on my blog page, although I have had this account for almost 5 years now. And yeah, it wasn't planned. Somehow, I just looked at a bigger picture when I contemplated this issue and was bewildered to find out how shallow can the world's most influential and highest paid individuals' minds be while deciding some of the most important decisions for an organization. And that was the trigger I was probably waiting to start off. Hopefully, I intend to continue this streak finding out more such issues and of course, more time to write. Comments and criticisms are welcome.

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