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Editor of IGI Global's Handbook of Research on Higher Education in the MENA Region: Policy and Practice

Interview with Dr. Neeta Baporikar, Professor in Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship

By IGI Global on Oct 27, 2014
Interview with Dr. Neeta BaporikarDr. Neeta Baporikar is a Professor in the area of Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship. She holds a PhD in Management, an MBA (Distinction), and a Law (Hons.) degree. With more than two and a half decades of industry, consultancy, training, research, and academic experience, she is an Accredited Management Teacher, Qualified Trainer, Doctoral Guide, External Reviewer, Oman Academic Accreditation Authority, and Board Member of Academics and Selection Committee in accredited B-Schools. At the University of Pune, she supervises doctoral research students and collaborates on multidisciplinary research projects with academic/industry associates. Dr. Baporikar has traveled widely across India and abroad for professional and academic assignments. Prior to this, she was Head of Scientific Research, CAS Ministry of Higher Education Oman. A reviewer for many international journals, she has to her credit several referred publications.

Dr. Baporikar recently took the time to participate in an interview with IGI Global Promotions Coordinator Ann Lupold, elaborating on elevating issues in the MENA region, the global economy, and the status of higher education today.



Tell us a little about yourself. How did you become involved in the study of knowledge management and education policy?

Dr. Neeta Baporikar: I was born in the tiny town of Belgaum, the capital of a small district in the southern part of India known for good educational facilities. I was fortunate to do my schooling in one of the best schools of India- St. Joseph’s Convent. I later graduated from Gogte College of Commerce in 1981, and then went on to complete my Master’s and got my MBA (Distinction) and Law (Hons.) degrees. As a natural consequence I took up a corporate career, but did not feel contented with work substance as at the core it seemed more as chase for money than happiness or fulfillment. Probably the quest for knowledge was stronger! Hence, I made a lateral switch to research and training by joining the National Insurance Academy, a premier training institution in the insurance sector. That is where my involvement in the study of knowledge management and higher education – policy and research was born. With relentless determination and the urge to acquire knowledge for the sheer love of it, I pursued my doctorate in Management from the University of Pune. Along the way I gained the professional certifications of Accredited Management Teacher (AIMA) and Qualified Trainer (ISTD). My curiosity for understanding how knowledge is created ultimately led me to the trail of writing in 1998. Today, with five students conferred with doctorate degrees under my guidance, more than 100 research papers, and 20 multi-disciplinary titles in the area of Management, Strategy, Entrepreneurship and Higher Education, the chosen journey continues.

Your IGI Global book, Handbook of Research on Higher Education in the MENA Region: Policy and Practice, was just released in the summer. Tell us a little about the book. How is the global economy changing education in the Middle East and North Africa?

This book is the outcome of more than three decades of hands-on research and understanding in the field of higher education. The first decade was as a student of higher education, and the latter two decades as a professor, researcher, and author in the field of management, education, strategy, and knowledge management. Above all, it includes understanding of MENA region, which I focused on during my tenure as Head Scientific Research/Professoriate with the Sultanate of Oman, Ministry of Higher Education.

Misperception abounds in many sectors of the globalized environment. Education is certainly one of them and even more so 'Higher Education'. Many people are mixed up about Higher Education, because in the recent past there have been many changes. The most glaring effects of global economy relate to globalization and the increasing importance of the knowledge economy in the development process, the youth bulge and out-of-school children and adults, as well as financing requirements. With respect to globalization and the knowledge economy, the education systems in the region must produce competent and flexible human capital to be able to compete. Lifelong learning and coping with out-of school children and adults are no longer a luxury but a necessity. Both challenges require a shift in what is taught in schools and how it is taught, to enable students to acquire the necessary fundamental and transversal skills and to upgrade these skills over time. Finally, meeting the above challenges requires financing, which is difficult to secure on the basis of the current patterns of expenditure and sources of funding. Meeting the above challenges is fundamental to the ability of the education systems in the region to meet the aspirations of the population for a better life. The global focus of this book and the practical approach adopted is a welcome addition to the literature on higher education, especially for MENA region where such studies are far and few.

What were some of your most interesting findings in the research and development of the book?

The chapters are based on research and experiences, and they offer the reader guidelines on how to holistically and effectively engage in the field of higher education. Some of the interesting findings in the research and development of this book are issues such as:

  • The need to shift perspective in higher education in the MENA region, in the light of its growing importance as a developing entity with natural and human resources.
  • The need to introduce the rankings systems of world universities, and analyze the performance of Arab universities in MENA region, along with the recent substantial educational reforms in Qatar, closely intertwined with planned future economic transformation (diversification).
  • Issues of ethics: the role, perspective, and importance of ethics, along with various facets of education as a massive young population is knocking at the doors of higher education while the society is crying ‘foul’ for lack of emphasis on academic ethics.
  • A need to re-orient, re-create and enrich the systems of learning and to safeguard the dignity of higher education.
  • Curriculum development and legislation, the concept of social capital, the dimensions of higher education institutions, along with the application of social capital in terms of social networks, social norms, social trust, and institutional trust; entrepreneurship approaches to facilitate disseminating higher education and provide new alternatives to traditional models.
  • Using student feedback and the proposed conceptual model along with the growing trends and increasing number of international student to collaborate and promote educative exchange programs, internationalization of teaching, research, curricula, etc.
  • Amid the convergence of information, communication, and technology (ICT), to add mobility to teaching and learning. M-Learning is crucial.
  • Defining best practices relating to key issues that have been contributed by world-ranked universities.
  • How to provide a concerted framework in promoting research culture, the impact of declining funding and other adversaries on the education access to the aboriginals, performance evaluation in higher education by Return on Investment (ROI) approach, and the contemporary issues of employee wellness, access, quality, equity, and governance of education in both public and private universities.
Where do you see the future of educational development in the MENA region?

The future of educational development in MENA region depends on how policy makers will deal with the prominent waves influencing higher education in the global world. MENA region is also going through a lot of turbulence and the most prominent considerations for MENA region to deal with would be:
  • Global changes are large-scale phenomenon, such as global warming, globalization, economics, changing "power centres", impacting all aspects of a society.
  • Societal and political factors contribute to the future of higher education. The participative, democratic ideals of open source software are reflected in scholarship. The process of knowledge production is moving to more social models.
  • Technological innovations create new opportunities for learner-learner/educator and learner-information interactions. Since its inception, the Internet has experienced tremendous growth. The participative web (also known as Web 2.0), mobile phones, social networking services, and netbooks have given individuals greater control over information creation and sharing.
  • Educational change pressures are those specific to higher education. Global, social, and technological change factors impact higher education, but research specific to teaching and learning provides greater direction into how the process of learning should best be facilitated. In particular, the development of learning sciences promises to assist administrators, educators, and designers in creating effective learning environments.
  • However, as with new and emerging fields, the emphasis on sciences creates some unease among educators. Increased collaboration in a model of "interlocking partnerships among researchers, among universities, and across international borders", commonly referred as 'collaborative research' or 'multidisciplinary approach' is a potential new model of not only what it means to be an academic, but also what it means to be an academic institution.
Lastly, the future of educational development in MENA regions depends upon the approach adopted by the policy makers. More relevant is whether they will adopt an indigenous approach, a long route but more apt, or continue with short-cut approaches of imported educational programs.

Who could most benefit from this publication?

Today, the interest in this subject is evident not only for many key institutes and universities, but also for different professionals around the world. Identifying the theoretical as well as practical implications, the book can be used by faculty, students, researchers, entrepreneurs, managers, venture capitalists, investors, industry partners, and government officials’ representatives of technology transfer offices, incubators, science parks, research parks, and other professionals. Drawing on the latest developments, ideas, research, and best practices, this book intends to examine the implications of the changes taking place and how they affect the higher education especially in MENA region. It is important to know what is happening on both national and international fronts to be able to understand and develop effective responses to meet these new demands. In sum, the book Higher Education Policy and Practice in the MENA Region presents a detailed analysis and synthesis of the stream of higher education and provides understanding of this complex and multi-faceted process. It is useful in guiding future research and it is the first book that gives systematic information about the linkage between higher education policy and practice with focus on MENA region. If history serves as a guide, future learning institutions will emerge to reflect how a society creates and shares information, communicates important concepts to those new to the field of study, and generates spaces of discourse for disseminating and extending existing boundaries of knowledge. I sincerely hope this enhanced understanding stimulates additional research in these areas.

Is there any message you would like to give to your readers as it pertains to your research?

I believe that “Reading makes a person wise, but writing makes a person exact”. With this belief, I have been deeply involved in research, writing and publishing research papers and books on strategy, entrepreneurship, management, and education for the past fifteen years. These subjects have interested me for long time now and my books are a fun to read with a profitable outcome. This book was completed over a period of 15 months. Though I understood the intricacies of collaborating with international professoriate well, it was not only challenging but also a very satisfying and wholesome experience for me. Hence, my big vision for this book is that it helps to improve the educational policy and practice in the MENA region, which will in turn have a trickle-down effect of improving youth competencies, increase employment potential/rate, and reduce dependence on expat manpower.

What lessons have you learned along the way?

Patience is a virtue. Rightly said “Nine women cannot deliver a baby in one month” so also I've been trying really hard to recognize that some things take a long, long, long time. Once the writing process is complete, the production process starts. Once the production process is finished, the marketing process begins. It takes time, but in this game, eventually there is fruition. Realization that worthwhile things take commitment, cooperation, and time is a great lesson indeed.

What went right and what went wrong in the process of this publication?

Developing a good proposal was very important. Also, I think the excellent support and cooperation of contributors, reviewers, and publishers was of utmost importance. Establishing a scheduling framework made all things become eventual and like a stream running downhill: it did hit some rocks and branches along the way when it came to revised submissions, but inevitably, it went well and got there where it ought to be.

What are you currently working on? What are your future plans, goals, and aspirations?

I am currently working on another book with IGI Global in the area of entrepreneurship and knowledge-based economy. I have other potential titles on my list for which books proposals are in process. I am also writing and reviewing articles for refereed journals, doing collaborative research in multi-disciplinary areas along academic associates and my PhD scholars, apart from supervising their thesis. My aim is simple: pursue research through continued writing to contribute to the common body of knowledge (COBK). In anticipation; my work will contribute to inspiring the student and scholar community apart from its positive impact on business practitioners. I do not plan to fully retire, so living out writing and research, with of course reading, for the rest of my life is certainly my foremost agenda.

Any last thoughts for our readers?

Thank you for reading this interview. I hope you’ll check out the Handbook of Research on Higher Education in the MENA Region: Policy and Practice, because when all is said and done, I need to eat.

*****



A sincere thanks to Dr. Baporikar for sharing her outstanding insight in this area. Visit the book webpage for more information on the Handbook of Research on Higher Education in the MENA Region: Policy and Practice. This book is part of the Advances in Higher Education and Professional Development (AHEPD) Book Series, a collection that provides an outlet for researchers and academics to publish their research in these areas and to distribute these works to practitioners and other researchers. Follow the link for other IGI Global research in the MENA region.

To provide feedback or a review of this book, please contact Promotions Coordinator Ann Lupold at alupold@igi-global.com or (717) 533-8845, ext. 132.
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