Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Why the dearth of research productivity in India?

What struck me at the Academy of Management conference at Boston last year, where I had been invited to chair a session, was how few Indian scholars were visible amongst the thousands of delegates. This made me ponder on why it is that in 2011 academics in China authored five times more research papers that in India, and also why it is that the relative impact of citations in India is half of the world average (world average: 1.0).
There could be several reasons for the dearth of research productivity in India, especially in the realm of management and the social sciences. Perhaps it is because enrollment in higher education has grown six times in the last 30 years, but faculty strength has grown only by four times (Higher education in India: FICCI report, 2012).
It could be because there is no publish or perish system in most higher education colleges and universities (Kumar & Israel, 2013), so whether one publishes or not is not directly linked to one's career progression. It could be because faculty do not get adequate financial incentives for publishing, or even that faculty are not provided with teaching assistance should they wish to publish.
Whatever the reasons, the Government of India is worried about the situation. According to the Goverdhan Mehta report: ᾿In terms of research publications, we seem not to be keeping pace with other emerging economies and account for less than 2 % of world publications in these areas of research. In terms of citations and impact factors, our standing needs to be considerably enhanced῀ (Mehta 2009 p 3).
The Report of the IIM Review Committee echoes this concern: "The IIMs have come in for criticism because they have lagged behind leading global business schools in publishing papers in internationally peer-reviewed management journals." (Bhargava 2008: 10).
We need to introspect on why our higher education system is not proving to be conducive enough for wheeling the oils of research productivity, as in other countries. Only when we take the bull by the horns can we begin to play catch-up on a global platform.


  1. Research productivity is a matter of culture as well. Indians have traditionally related scholarship with reading and realizing, NOT writing and citing. Only those who had something very substantial to say chose to author a treatise. Writing culture allows small, incremental contributions to flourish and citing culture produces the classic "intellectual produces print and print produces intellectual" situation. Its time when we discuss alternative paradigms of scholarship instead of blindly adopting what the West has to offer.

  2. I believe one can only talk of changing a paradigm once one has experienced the existing one. First let us become world leaders in publishing articles, before we change the rules of the game.