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Mudra Institute of Communications is an autonomous, non-profit management education institute dedicated to providing quality management education in the field of integrated marketing communications industry. Established in 1991, MICA is currently seeing the 17 batch of its flagship program Post-graduate Diploma in Management (Communications). This is two year residential course which takes students through an interesting written exam called MICAT and GE/PI process. There are other courses at MICA that vary in duration from 6 months to one year catering to the various needs of the communication and advertising industry.
Culture of MICA
Its 2 am in the night, the weather is cool and as you step out of the hostel into the badminton court you see four students playing intensely and a couple of others waiting their turn. As you walk towards the library past the senior hostels you see some more students pouring over a laptop lost in an animated discussion. The scene in the library is even more bizarre with students completely immersed in their books. Once you continue walking towards the 24 hour canteen affectionately called "chota" you see what it means to be at MICA. It is teeming with students ordering their favorite dishes and unwinding with friends.
This is no special night at MICA but what is called the night life of MICA. Culture as defined by Alfred Kroeber is "The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group." Going by this definition it is common knowledge and a widely accepted fact in the B-school community that the culture of MICA is very different and quite unique to the institute. Be it the life on campus or the unique Mican lingo or the even more unique people who make up MICA, it is definitely unlike any other B-school. MICA prides itself to be the school of ideas and lives up to this distinction by providing the atmosphere necessary to foster creativity and generate innovative ideas. Culture of any organization is made up of two broad factors, the organizational setup and the people who make up the organization.
A Utopia Called MICA
Set in a lush green campus with red brick buildings, MICA is one of the most beautiful B-school campuses in the country. But what sets it apart is the emphasis on out of the box thinking and in providing the conditions needed for such creativity to exist. The curriculum of the institute is designed by experts in the field of marketing communication in consultation with the students and this curriculum is revised every year to cater to the dynamic needs of the industry. The academic rigor is kept at the right level giving the students ample opportunities to explore their interests and develop into well rounded individuals. Apart from some basic academic rules, the management does not enforce any strict disciplinary or restrictive rules on the students which demonstrate the management's belief in the students, to act as responsible individuals, living up to the idea that true creativity can exist only when the mind is completely free.
Unlike a lot of other institutes MICA does not have any form of reservations and ensures that there is gender equality on the campus. The fact that the there are no wardens in the hostels and that there are no separate hostels for male and female students says a lot about the management's belief in the students and their commitment to providing a restriction free atmosphere. The essence of this was captured when Naveen Joshi of Christ college asked one of the organizers of Sankalp, if they were expected to be back in their rooms by 10 PM. MICA encourages students to open their minds and to see the world in a way they have never seen before. It aims to inculcate in its students an attitude of openness, tolerance and a passion to pursue their dreams.
MICAN's - the people who make up MICA
In the words of Mithila Mehta, a PGP1 student of MICA, "2/5 of all MICAns play the guitar, 2/3 of all MICAns visit the gym, and ¼ of all MICANs carry SLRs". This sentence summarizes the diversity of the people at MICA and the unique way they contribute to the culture of MICA. MICA admits students through a unique exam known as MICAT which unlike other management entrance exams focus on the individual's attitude and overall personality. This unique test ensures that the final lot has students from drawn diverse fields and having varied interests but a single goal of choosing a radically different career path. This gives the students an opportunity to interact with students from all parts of the country helping them develop a tolerance and understanding for various cultures. This amalgamation of cultures is what the culture of MICA is all about and it manifests in the form of the unique lingo of MICA, the events that its various committees organize, the eclectic names of the dishes at Chota and not to mention the variety that MICAN's eventually bring to the organizations they go to work for. You will see MICAN's making it big in theater and also become the CMO's of organizations. You will find them fun loving and also hardworking. In short MICAN's know how to work hard and party harder, in other words, MICAN's know how to live life.
Openness in an organization is an indicator of the degree of trust and comfort that people share with each other. MICA follows a culture of openness in giving and receiving feedback and openly discussing problems. Students and faculty are open to new ideas and ways of doing things. This helps in developing innovative, creative and more effective ways of executing activities.
Confrontation means facing problems rather than shying away from them or letting the system work as it has been working without bothering to change for the better. MICA's culture is about taking up problems and new challenges and living up to them. There is no resistance to discussing sensitive issues. Numerous batch meetings are convened until an appropriate solution is found or a consensus is arrived at.
Trust is a highly valued value and is crucial for running any kind of a team or an organization whether big or small. It is reflected in maintaining the confidentiality of the information within a group. In MICA trust is the foundation of all the committee work and the Placement processes as well. For example whatever sensitive information the Placement Committee has is never leaked out to unreliable or external people. A very high level of integrity in such matters is followed.
The culture at MICA nurtures and fosters the spirit of taking initiative for various things, pre planning and taking preventive action when the situation demands. New initiatives are supported and there is a high level of involvement in new and more innovative activities, projects and assignment.
MICA has a culture of maximizing the combined strengths and skills of all the students involved. There is a culture of working together to solve problems and developing a team spirit. There is high degree of resource and experience sharing.
The culture of trying things that have not been tried before and also doing old things in a new way is fostered in MICA. For example this year a theatre fest (Sankalp) was organized for the first time and was a success.
All these cultures at MICA enable the students to learn and exercise their skills, knowledge and creativity for the betterment of their personality and the increasing the opportunities and exposure the MICA has to offer.
Like every organization, MICA has its own dysfunctional aspects. Though there is openness and confrontation, there is presence of too much hierarchy at MICA. There are so many committees involved and therefore in order to standardize the processes, one ends up complicating them for example any one isn't supposed to directly approach MCSA without informing Class Representatives or the issues related to academics goes in via Academic Review Committee, which works by taking consensus into consideration. Therefore either there is too much delay that happens in the process of reaching the consensus or no consensus in ever reached at all, which results in lot of concerns being unanswered and lots of significant actions not being taken.
Lack of co-ordination
There is lack of co-ordination between students and the faculty, students and the admin etc in various aspects for example inclusion of case studies for some subjects or use of interactive techniques like role play, mock interviews may improve the student understanding of the subject, but these are not included due to lack of proper communication and reluctance on both the parts. Therefore this results in loss of interest and discontentment among students. Another example of lack of co-ordination is with regards to the attendance issues for various committees' members or allocation of budgets for fests where the processes are not streamlined.
Improper conflict management
There are certain conflicting issues that are not managed effectively at MICA. Example includes lack of understanding with respects to positioning as B-school or C-school for MICA, which poses confusion in the minds of student aspirants and interested companies. Also there are a few subjects that are not a part of the study curriculum at MICA but are considered relatively important from the companies' perspective and thus impacts the placements in a negative fashion. The numbers of electives have also been reduced significantly at MICA without the student consent being taken into consideration which leads to dissonance in the minds of the students.
Changing the dysfunctional aspects of "MICAn" culture
The dysfunctional aspects identified above, in the culture of MICA as an institution, can exist at two levels as follows:
The staff and the administration of the institute, and
The students of the institute
The rigidity in terms of the hierarchical structure that is tipped as a dysfunctional aspect of MICAn culture above exists at both these levels. At the student level, for starters, the students in charge of various positions of power, heading committees of importance on campus must be made to understand the purpose of their respective committee's existence on campus. Once there is clarity in the minds of students regarding what purpose they are meant to serve, they will be in a better position to tackle the problems they face in terms of complaints and grievances (as received by committees like MCSA and Placecomm). To facilitate this change, openness to the opinions and suggestions must be inculcated in the members of these committees by their respective seniors. Senior committee members are the single largest cultural influence on a committee and thus are the ones who determine the work culture of a committee. They must lead by example to setup a new structure which is by and large rigid to function efficiently and yet has the scope to be flexible enough to accommodate students' concerns and grievances in as little time as possible. The administration also faces a similar problem in terms of having a structure so rigid that it slows down the advent of positive change in the institution. The administration must be also be open to the opinion of students and thus should take it more seriously to come up with solutions to problems related to the curriculum, infrastructure and even placements that are generally more acceptable to all concerned parties and at least reasonable enough to keep parties not in agreement with the solution from feeling dissatisfied.
Lack of Co-Ordination
This dysfunctional aspect exists between students themselves, students and the administration and also within the administration. To deal with this disparity of opinions, there must exist more platforms for the above mentioned entities to interact and bond over in a friendly fashion. There is always a certain power distance between professors and students inside a classroom. But to bring the students to convey their expectations from a course to a teaching staff member and for that person to accept and act upon those suggestions, there must be a common forum facilitating open exchange of ideas related to delivery of curriculum in an informal setting. Often the students are left wanting for some things in a course that could have been delivered to them just because they find it difficult to communicate the same to the instructor. This step will help students get rid of that very glass wall barrier. The feedback mechanism must also be more open, robust, transparent and qualitative in nature as a measure to help overcome this dysfunctional aspect.
Resistance to change
The rebranding of MICA as a C School has met with much resistance from a large cross section of students of late. The major reason behind this resistance is that many students believe this is not what MICA stands for and is thus not what they signed up for while seeking admission into the institute. But more than the aforesaid reasoning, this resistance to change stems from the change resisting attitude all MICAns are acculturated to. Students here at MICA are taught to accept things as they are and resist every measure that changes the environment they live in. This aspect of MICAn culture is a double edged sword and can turn out to be either productive or counter-productive at times. This attitude has helped them construct a cultural dimension in the student life at MICA by creating amongst them a sense of belonging towards the institute and creating a bond that transcends throughout all batches to pass out of MICA, connecting all MICAns from the present to the ones from the past. But at times, it also becomes a barrier to positive change, as the students fail to realise the value that lies in a certain proposed change, in the name of blindly resisting all change. To deal with this dysfunctional aspect, the administration must keep students in the loop with all the reasoning that goes behind every proposed change they wish to implement. Resisting change is only a mere facet of the sense of belonging the students have towards the institute. The overall good of the institute and it's students still is the objective of prime importance for the students here, according to the interviews we've conducted. Thus, if the students are convinced about the value a certain change is going to deliver to them, they will not only accept change willingly, but will also participate actively to implement the same.