Monday, February 20, 2006

A school for business and public policy in India?

I have often wondered in the course of various discussions with colleagues and friends on the need for business managers with a public policy background or more importantly, public policy decision-makers with a business background. By public policy, I imply a thorough knowledge of regulations of the country for specific markets. In fact I recall companies spending a substantial corporate time on dealing with governments. Is there a knowledge demand there? There are immense opportunities to be gained by a knowledge of the regulatory framework from a business perspective. For example IPR and pharmaceutical companies. And I daresay you cannot get that from lawyers. It is a completely different style of thinking and toolwork.

Of late there has been a rise in the emphasis on the knowledge of law in management. I modestly take that phenomenon as my hypothesis being proved right. I would still like to pursue the viability for crafting a course for it. But the question still remains.

What would be the appropriate coursework for such a "Business and Public Policy" course in India? Any ideas?

I intend to start a helpful section for those wishing to study Public Policy in the US or elsewhere. I envisage a growing market for it in India. If any of you are pursuing public policy studies in any form either through economics or technology or communications, I will be happy to hear from you on the profile of your course. You could also mail this to your friends who may be pursuing it.

On another note, here is a well-thought post The Economics of Academics by Sibin Mohan on the "political economy" of graduate school funding and the time lags inherent in the cause and effects. Recommended for students and researchers and those interested in funding repercussions. I would have titled it "The Economics of Funding in Academia." Anyways, I look forward to more such well thought-out posts!


The IAS is about administration, not public policy analysis. To think of administrators as dominant requirement is to confuse administration with management. Policy analysis is a step different from management. It provides "sophisticated" analysis of inputs, outputs, outcomes. It has its necessary requirement. The other ones in the game are policy-makers who are the decision-makers. In fact, the IAS will become archaic or redundant in purpose. How soon is the question?

Employment options? Agreed since the market is in its infancy, one has to be more entrepreneurial. But the future of the market is probably more on these lines. First, more than 25 state governments, each state government has probably 50-100 Acts on various issues and as many departments. That is the kind of consultancy market Policy Analysts can garner. Second, regulatory authorities at the national level. Third, government relations of companies. I fail to recall where I heard this but companies spend 8% of their time dealing with the government, and there is a need for professionals there. I envisage a growing need for companies to understand public policies and Acts for their business purposes. Fourth, political parties are savvy enough to want Policy Analysts on their team to provide them feedback. Fourth, prominent politicians are developing their in-house policy teams to better their work. Sixth, you have the NGOs and World Bank, ILO etc. The market is in a very infant stage. It is not the next Internet. But if you are starting from zero, imagine the growth and market space available.

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