Sunday, April 01, 2007

MBA B-School Rankings

An excellent article in Globe and Mail about the different rankings issued by different publications.Do check it out here:

The press releases start flying on a Monday morning: "Schulich is ranked No. 1 in Canada." "Queen's Tops Business Week Survey." "Rotman ranked First by Financial Times." Over the weekend, Canada's top business schools have been busy poring over the results of the latest international rankings list, rushing to get out the news to the media, faculty, students and alumni.

The schools get an advance peek at the results, often on the Thursday before publication. Marketing directors, communications officers, MBA program directors and deans comb through the results to see not only how their school did, but how its competitors performed: "Did we move up? Are there any positives? If we went down, did our competitors go down as well?"

Rankings determined by international publications can have a major effect on the reputation of schools competing in the global MBA market. Earning a top ranking isn't just about bragging rights. For many schools, it's about attracting the best and the brightest students, recruiting top academics, and keeping alumni and donors happy.

But not all schools participate in ranking surveys, and many feel the lists present an uneven picture of the value of their programs. Many observers also question the methodology of the evaluations, and their ultimate worth.

Ken Jones, dean of the Faculty of Business at Ryerson University in Toronto, for one, doubts that his school will ever participate in rankings.

"They are inherently unreliable due to the differences in methodology and I'm not sure they present an accurate picture of the worth of a good MBA program," Dr. Jones says. "And [participation] adds additional expectations to the faculty and students that are not always realistic."

Business Week did the first ranking of full-time MBA programs in 1988, and was soon followed by major publications such as the Financial Times, the Economist and the Wall Street Journal. Love 'em or hate 'em, rankings can be influential. Winning a spot in a "best of" list raises the profile of a school and becomes part of its marketing.

The Queen's School of Business website, for example, prominently displays its No. 1 ranking from Business Week in 2006 as the best MBA program outside the United States, as well as its first-place ranking from Business Week in 2005 for its Executive MBA program.

For Dean David Saunders, highlighting his school's rankings is a legitimate part of the marketing mix.

"At Queen's School of Business we are focused on our strategy to provide the best business education in the world," Dr. Saunders says. "Our strong rankings show the strategy is working. We provide rankings data to students as one of many pieces of information they are gathering."

The Schulich School of Business at York University regularly promotes its ranking successes in print and radio advertising as well as online. Schulich's website has a section on global rankings that displays the names and logos of every publication that has ranked the school, including titles such as Corporate Knights magazine and Beyond Grey Pinstripes as well as the Economist, the Financial Times and Business Week.

At the University of Toronto, the Joseph L. Rotman School of Management's website offers the schools rankings by the Financial Times for its MBA and executive education, and by Business Week for the Rotman MBA and EMBA programs. In addition, comments from Dean Roger Martin are regularly posted on the site's home page after a positive ranking.

But the University of Western Ontario's Richard Ivey School of Business, which consistently does well in international lists, plays things in a lower key. International rankings were once an important part of Ivey's marketing, but now the school's ads rarely mention them.

Dean Carol Stephenson says Ivey tries to educate potential students to look at more than just rankings. "Rankings are one of many factors that are inputs to assessing business schools," she says.

Leading business schools have begun to take a much more critical view of the rankings industry and are becoming selective about which ones they co-operate with. For example, Queen's, Rotman and Ivey no longer participate in the Economist rankings, while Queen's does not take part in the Wall Street Journal survey and Rotman and Ivey are no longer part of Forbes'.

There are good reasons for business schools to be wary. Rankings can be confusing, evaluating various factors of a business school in different ways, and often using different criteria.

For example, the Financial Times does not survey job recruiters while the Wall Street Journal does; the FT and Economist surveys are global, while Business Week ranks non-U.S. schools in a separate category. And while the FT's evaluation covers a wide range of factors (ranging from percentage of international students and faculty to graduates' salaries and career progression), the Forbes survey is based almost entirely on alumni salaries.

Such variables lead to large discrepancies in rankings from one survey to the next, making comparisons between schools problematic. A classic example: Queen's School of Business was ranked as the No. 1 MBA program outside the United States by Business Week, but the school didn't make the top 100 in the Financial Times' international rankings.

An individual school can also see its rankings fluctuate widely: York's Schulich landed third in the latest Forbes survey (which most Canadian schools don't participate in); ninth with Business Week; 13th for the WSJ; 30th on the Economist list; and 49th with the Financial Times.

Ivey participates in three international business school rankings -- Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and Financial Times -- because, according Ms. Stephenson, each one measures and evaluates from a different perspective and highlights areas deemed valuable by prospective students.

"We participate in rankings such as the Wall Street Journal because it gives us a recruiters' perspective," she says. "Others, such as the Financial Times measure progress on our graduates as well as the research productivity of Ivey. We focus on those rankings where we believe the methodology is the most sound."

One area where both supporters and critics of rankings agree is that lists alone should not be the deciding factor in a prospective student's choice of business school, or a corporate recruiter's evaluation of an MBA graduate.

"While rankings are important, they do not drive our program decisions," says Dr. Saunders of Queen's School of Business. "Our goal is to provide the highest quality of education using the most innovative methods -- regardless of ranking."

Dr. Saunders, who is also chair of the Canadian Federation of Deans of Schools of Business, says other factors to weigh include the school's reputation and quality of programs, accreditation by international accrediting bodies, and placement of graduates.

Despite the drawbacks of rankings, Della Bradshaw, the senior education writer for the Financial Times in London, argues that they are necessary because there are few other independent sources of information for those choosing an MBA school.

"There are the accreditation systems, but that leaves you with a choice of several hundred schools," she says. "Until the business school world comes up with such a system, potential students will continue to look to rankings

Understanding Rankings

There are rankings, and there are rankings. Since Business Week first introduced its ranking of full-time MBA programs in 1988, there has been an explosion of rankings from business publications around the world. But each has its own methodology, and no two surveys are alike. Here is a brief assessment of the major international rankings:


The Financial Times

The Financial Times ranking is considered the most comprehensive, listing the Top 100 schools in the world. The London newspaper works with the schools to ensure as much relevant information as possible is included, and surveys alumni for details on salaries, job mobility and career progression. While even FT doesn't cover all the bases (it does not survey schools in India, for example), it is seen by many as the most authoritative independent source for MBA

Canadian rankings

Joseph L. Rotman School of Management: 27
(University of Toronto)

Richard Ivy School of Business: 41
(University of Western Ontario)

Schulich School of Business: 49
(York University)

Sauder School of Business: 77
(University of British Columbia)

Desautels Faculty of Management: 90
(McGill University)



Business Week's ranking concentrates mainly on U.S. schools; it ranks only 10 top schools outside the United States in a separate category. Nor are the international schools covered in the same depth as the U.S. ones. It surveys recruiters and students and applies the same weighting to each sector (45 per cent), with the remaining 10 per cent based on information supplied by the schools. Rankings are based on two surveys, two years apart, to lessen the swings common in some other rankings.

Canadian rankings (Non-U.S. list)

Queen's University: 1

Ivey (UWO): 2

Rotman (UofT): 3

Schulich (York): 9

HEC Montreal: 10


The Economist

Although published by the same company, the difference between the Economist magazine's rankings and those of the Financial Times are marked. While FT's list is seen as the benchmark by which other rankings are judged, many Canadian schools have problems with the Economist's methodology. Schools provide a list of names of MBA alumni, who are then contacted for their opinions. There are also problems with the numbers surveyed; for example, a small school with less than 50 MBA students could be ranked on information from as few as 10 alumni.

Canadian rankings

Schulich (York): 30

HEC Montreal: 98



For its international survey, the WSJ surveys alumni and recruiters (mainly, but not exclusively, American). Although the methodology is impeccable, the small sample size and cause big changes in rankings from year to year. Schools complain that they do not understand how the WSJ's rankings can change so dramatically; they feel a rise to drop in ranking doesn't mean as much as with some other evaluations.

Canadian rankings

Queen's: 8

Ivey (UWO): 9

Schulich (York): 13

Rotman (UofT): 22




At 3:26 PM, Blogger Chris said...

So after completing a Queen's MBA program, what are your opinions about the rankings now, especially with the fact the Queen's was cut from the Top 100 from FT (although in my opinion quite unsensible)? In your opinion are the rankings justified?

At 10:12 AM, Blogger aliya seen said...

Business Part includes everything that explains why you are doing what you have been asked to do sop for mba


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