Before the 1950s, formalized management education was absent in India and businesses were run either through family-based management or a small cadre of foreign-trained managers in the managing agencies that had controlling stakes in leading enterprises. Commerce degrees were offered by various Indian university departments but they were much narrower in scope than management degrees. Elsewhere, formalized management education had begun in North America and Europe, sporadically in the 19th century and more systematically in the early 20th century. The Harvard Business School (HBS), for instance, traces its origin to 1908.
Committees and discussions on setting up institutes of higher education in India across various disciplines sprang forth in the 1940s around the time of independence. In 1948-50, the Industrial Administration Business and Management (IABM) Committee was set up by the Council for Technical Education, chaired by Jehangir Ghandy, Director at the Tata Sons, the managing agency for the Tata business group. The committee’s report recommended the creation of a board of management studies to facilitate university level tie-ups, a national institute of management to oversee management education and an Administrative Staff College on the lines of the Staff College in Henley, UK. As an offshoot, the All-India Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management (now IISWBM) was set up in Calcutta (now Kolkata) in 1953. The Administrative Staff College was set up in 1956 in Hyderabad with close collaboration with the Henley college in UK. Several university departments also began to offer management programmes. The TATAs began internal management development programmes, initially influenced by the British Henley management training model and the Tata Cadre was created in 1954 (now the Tata Administrative Service). Management research was also underway in the 1950s at the Ahmedabad Textile Industry’s Research Association (ATIRA), founded by Vikram Sarabhai in 1947.
Separately, management associations began to rise- in Bangalore (1953), Bombay (1954), Delhi and Ahmedabad (1955), Madras (1956) and Calcutta (1957), leading to the formation of the All India Management Association (AIMA) in 1957 and then its journal Indian Management, pictured above. The president of AIMA, Charat Ram, was inspired by the activities of the American Institute of Management and approached Douglas Ensminger, representative of the Ford Foundation in India for assistance. AIMA and the Ford Foundation then launched a summer management development programme in Srinagar in Kashmir with technical assistance from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which had developed a strong connection with India even before
The need for autonomous management institutes training fresh graduates outside the traditional university system was valued in some Indian quarters and strongly articulated by Douglas Ensminger of the Ford Foundation. In the event, two IIMs were set up in 1961 in Ahmedabad and Calcutta which then collaborated with HBS and MIT as their foreign partners respectively. Both began executive development programmes and started their flagship two-year postgraduate degree in business administration in 1964.