A Statistics Prof got me thinking yesterday when he posed this question. The unusual replies like faculty, infrastructure, amenities, age came from all and sundry. Only one guy dared hazard that the students were the secret of IIM-A's success.
After all, the omnipotent Students Activities Council(SAC) runs a significant bit of campus life right from the students shop('Entre') to negotiating the canteen/other outlets T&C to scheduling lectures. Of course, the dorm culture plays a major role in the alumni bonding which really drives most B-schools to success including IIM-A.
But then, the reason person X is at IIMA with person Y at other Bschools is generally an "accident". Bad luck on either the exam day or interview day may make an otherwise stellar candidate lose out. So, quality of students remaining same across top B-schools, it is the institution that makes a difference.
In my 10 days here at campus, what struck me most was the dedication of IIMA staff-right from the contract housekeeping personnel to the administative staff and(of course!) the faculty who shame latecomers by reaching quite ahead of time. That, along with the culture of entrusting wide responsibility to students treating them as mature adults, certainly catalyses their metamorphosis from starry eyed MBA aspirants to the business leaders of tomorrow. The dorm culture not only ensures passing on knowledge, tradition, wisdom of the seniors(Tucchas) but also builds that much needed bonding across batches of the same dorm.
To conclude, the IIM-A culture though hectic at times certainly shapes the person more than anything else. After all, steel goes through fire to become forged steel. Credit should go to the institution for ensuring the 50+ year tradition