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With its roots in Latin language, the word "Culture" means to cultivate, but the word has seen many meanings over the years. From "Cultivation through education" in 1500 AD to "Collective customs and achievements of people" in 1867 AD, the meaning has changed with time. (Online Etymology Dictionary, C) In terms of a place, it is defined as the manner in which the group over the year has discovered or invented or developed a pattern of response. It is the culture which helps us to determine what is right and wrong and what is acceptable and what is not. (Business Dictionaary, C)
Mudra Institute of Communications Ahmedabad
One of the leading institutes in India, the flagship program of MICA is PGPCM which is a two year course with specialization in Brand Management, Account Planning, Marketing Research and Media Management. Apart from this, there are other courses which are functional at MICA the duration of which range from six months to one year. These courses are Executive Post Graduate Diploma Programme, Retail Communications Management, Creative Communications, Post Graduate Programme in Communications Management and Entrepreneurship are few of the other famous programs which are running successfully at MICA. The flagship program is seeing its 17th batch this year. The vision of MICA is "to be the pre-eminent communications management school" while the mission of the institute is "To develop innovative professionals in the practice, development, and management of communications to serve the needs of industry and society through education, research and advocacy." (MICA, C)
Culture of MICA
Every year there are numerous candidates who apply for various courses at MICA. With the kind of specialized courses at MICA, the people who apply for the courses are pretty clear about what they want to achieve in future and have their future plans aligned with what MICA offers to them. Apart from having a strong curriculum and faculty, there are a lot of other reasons why students opt for MICA. Students enjoy the extracurricular activities and sports which give them a lot of opportunities to learn and grow, learning from the peer group and from the seniors and juniors. To learn more about the culture of the institute, from the students' perspective, we prepared a questionnaire and approached students from different courses, both current and alumni, who would help us, give a holistic view of students who are or were part of the institute. The questionnaire can be found in the Appendix 1. The questionnaire was such prepared that it could capture the essence of MICAn culture as seen from eyes of students associated with MICA and who are currently the part of the institute. The questions included whether the respondents felt there is something called as MICAn culture, and what was their take on it. It also includes whether they think their career paths is aligned with the mission of MICA, there take on the life at MICA, the facilities which are provided, which were promised to be provided but were never provided and the ones which they think are unneeded. It also includes whether life at MICA was a shock to them, a change from what they had seen over a period of time or whether they think life at MICA is quite what they had always thought it would be.
After collating the results and analyzing what the various respondents spoke about, various facets of MICAn culture came forward. Before elaborating the response of the respondents, the various attributes of the respondents are as follows. It is important to understand these as a user's response depends a lot on them.
Figure 1: Statistical analysis of the respondents
Functional and Dysfunctional aspects of MICAn Culture
If we collate the views of the respondents, we can conclude that the following are the various attributes which can be related to the MICAn culture. It has to be noted that at times the respondent's views varied in accordance to the course they had enrolled for. Hence what might be an essential part of the culture for one of them, for someone from different course might have different views. In the following table we have taken that into consideration all these factors and classified them as functional and dysfunctional aspects.
Almost all the students are quite aware about the mission of the Institute, though not aware about it word to word and fine their career aspirations quite aligned with it
Baring a few, most of the respondents find life different as compared to their previous institutes; the food is better, the open hostel life (co-ed hostels) and the unity and interaction between the genders; The life results in inverse sleep cycle; Dynamic life; Globalization
Creative, creativity and being different is one of the top most cultural attribute of MICA which was identified by the respondents; other than this, dunking is another part of the culture which was the most identified culture attribute; Academically the respondents felt, the open door policy of the faculty is one of the best part of the institute
Majority feel MICA as an institute is different as emphasis is more or self discovery and learning and individual growth as part of a team; Effective sharing of idea at work; independence and emphasis of doing their own work to students; With a great deal of emphasis on extra-curricular activities; It imbibes practical learning by arranging fests and workshops
The respondents felt the curriculum is such that one get to know about topics and things which the respondents till now were quite unaware of or thought were not significant; MICA inculcates out of box thinking; Helps to hone creative abilities; Lateral thinking encouraged; Individualism; Socially- equality and its emphasis, Movie screening; learning through it; Emphasis on theatre and its importance
The respondents felt that the institute has a distinct mode of imparting education; An open ended education system where bringing up one's point of view is welcome helps develop communication skills; Majority of the respondents feel that the emphasis on sociology is one of the best and one of its kind feature of MICA; Guest faculty; Sessions by industry people and Alumni; Various workshops
According to almost all the respondents, the work and assignments (both individual and group) helps them learn to put forward ideas in a better way; Innovative assignments and the manner in which students are encouraged to think out of the box; MICA teaches us how to deal and cope with stress, depression and pressure through work, assignments and deadlines; it helps us to learn how to exist in a group of varied morals and values; The work concentrates a lot on the field work; Helps in interaction with a variety of potential target audiences
According to all the respondents, social interaction is an integral part of MICA; When channelled properly it results in productivity and meeting point of different cultures; A very strong grapevine mode of communication that itself helps; Helps in identifying with people; Social interaction helps in learning about loneliness and aloofness and how to deal with it; Most of the respondents were of the view that giving in to conformity is doesn't result in loss of uniqueness
According to almost all the respondents the culture at MICA is such that it results in a carefree and easy going attitude
There were a few respondents who felt "coming up with presentations and papers at the last minute and still doing them well, cause they are part of who we are" is a part of MICAn culture, waiting for the last moment is one of the biggest dysfunctional part of the culture
There were a plenty of respondents who felt that at times, relevance of the courses which are the part of the curriculum is questionable
There were respondents who felt that at times it seems that the course is not well planned as sometimes we don't have assignments for weeks while at times we are bombarded with assignments
There were respondents (all from PGP-1) who felt that various programs and facilities which were promised never really happened
There were respondents who felt that the usability and efficiency of various programs is still not clear (Mentorship program; though there were almost equal number of respondents who felt this is a distinct and good initiative)
The respondents from the non - PGP course feel that their course should be a bit longer in duration for better learning and understanding
According to few of the respondents they feel that not sleeping at night, meeting up at Chota and playing badminton they are carried on as they are a part of the MICAn history
There were a few of the respondents who felt that too much of group assignments at times is disadvantageous as there is hesitation in terms of decision making when it has to be made individually; hence equal individual assignments should also be given
A majority of the respondents felt that there were not enough non-academic lectures; No trip to ware houses and firms
There were a few respondents who felt there ought to be an informal interaction between students and faculty in a non teaching locale
Because there are a lot of students in the institute, from various backgrounds there ought to be more tolerance amongst people towards how others are
A few of the respondents felt that there was no social wing of MICA, which is present in few other institutes, which works earnestly to help the underprivileged, in few of the institutes it is a compulsory part of the curriculum
Dysfunctional aspect of MICAn culture: How to change it?
Given above are the various dysfunctional aspects of the MICAn culture which were analysed and formed with the help of responses from the various respondents who took our survey. Out of the various aspects, few were voiced by almost all or majority of the respondents while the others were the concerns of only few. Which ever be the case, we have tabulated all the dysfunctional aspects. If we classify them under various heads, we can find that they can be classified into aspects related to
Curriculum and Program
These two are the heads under which all of them can be classified and when we are looking for solutions to help change these dysfunctional attributes to the functional attributes we can form a plan accordingly.
In the first category of Students, we notice that the issues are mainly due to:
Their inherent attitude; and
How they've learnt to adapt to the new way of life at Mica (some of which are not in their best interests).
Here's a look at the arising concerns and a way to tackle them:
Low tolerance amongst the students towards accepting others - Everyone should acknowledge the fact that all those who've finally made it here have gone through the exact same process. They all have equal merit and therefore different backgrounds, education or work experience should make little difference. Instead of differentiating, an effort must be made to learn from the diversity and gain a wholesome insight into different matters. The new perspectives learnt form an integral part of Mica's education.
Students are carefree and easygoing and getting carried away in the name of 'MICAn' culture - Comparisons are odious but also inevitable. Therefore, when compared to the other top MBA colleges, Micans are found lacking in professionalism and a serious attitude towards life. Though definitely dysfunctional, measures can be taken to alter this. Seniors should be encouraged to not promote misplaced facts about the place. Getting up and sleeping late should not be branded as 'cool', and going to the library as 'uncool'. The new admissions should be taught to embrace the niche course and culture of this premium institute but not lose the rigour of a regular management program in the process.
Last minute preparations for presentations and papers - Procrastination is bliss is not always true, especially when it comes to assignments, presentations or exam preparations. Sadly, it's a norm with Micans. Deadlines are not taken seriously and deadline extensions are commonplace. It becomes a vicious cycle. As deadlines get extended, students don't complete their work on time and because they don't complete their work on time, deadlines get extended. A way to make this functional would be to enforce stricter and hugely unpopular measures - set deadlines and stick to them. Also, it would not be labeled unfair if the deadlines were reasonable to begin with.
When it comes to the Curriculum and Program, we have:
Some courses that are part of the curriculum are irrelevant and not well planned. Also assignment structure is haphazard - A course that is considered relevant by some might be considered irrelevant by others. The issue here is subjective. However, the courses that are irrelevant to most should be done away with. More care should be exercised while selecting a course for the curriculum, seeing to it that it's well charted out and also ensuring competent faculty. This will then become an incentive for the students to learn more and learn better. When it comes to the courses taught by the visiting faculty, it is seen that these courses are covered in the span of just a few days and therefore become difficult to grasp. There should be a more uniform distribution of the number of classes to ensure greater recall value and better understanding. Similarly, the assignments too should follow a more regular pattern instead of being inundated with them on the one hand while not having any on the other.
Some promises regarding programs and facilities never took shape - The feedback system exists only on paper. Students are not given feedback on their assignments, presentations and exams and therefore cannot learn where exactly did they go wrong. Therefore, a more effective feedback system is the key to turn this dysfunctional aspect into a functional one.
Mentorship, though a good initiative lacks efficiency and usefulness - What started off as promising, left much to be desired. The interactions between mentor and student became less regular then almost nonexistent. Therefore, both parties should take the initiative to continue with the mentorship programme. Student should be more active in seeking the guidance of their mentors who in return could be more forthcoming with offering their help, suggestions and solutions.
Other courses are not long enough for a good understanding - The simplest way to make this functional is to extend the duration of the courses by a set possible margin or to increase the quantity of the given materials.
Group Assignments leads to decision making problems. Therefore, more individual assignments should be given - The tendency to give more number of group assignments while beneficial can also lead to problems. While they ensure team work, they also promote free riders and are time consuming as each decision requires a consensus. Also, students tend to work with their friends only and this defeats the purpose of learning to operate in a real work force. A greater emphasis should be thus given on a balance between both group and individual assignments.
There aren't enough non academic lectures and trips to warehouses and firms; also there's need for more informal interaction between students and faculty in a non teaching locale - the industry interaction is limited to either the summer internship or the lectures we receive by eminent industry personalities. It would be more beneficial if regular field trips during the regular courses are undertaken so that we get an insight into the real working machinery of the prevalent industry.
There isn't any social wing of MICA - Student initiatives have been there but they've been dormant. Though the students are sensitive to social issues and have a very critical view on such matters but this fails to translate into consolidate action due to the absence of a formal college committee. More over as a part of our curriculum we are taught development communications which in turn makes us even more capable of contributing more fruitfully to social causes. Hence formulating and monitoring an official social wing which conducts events for these causes becomes imperative.
Business Dictionaary. (C). Search: Culture. Retrieved January 05, 2011, from Business Dictionaary: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/culture.html
MICA. (C). MICA: About Us. Retrieved January 06, 2011, from Mudra Institute of Communications Ahmedabad: www.mica-india.net
Online Etymology Dictionary. (C). Search: Culture. Retrieved January 5, 2011, from Online Etymology Dictionary: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=culture