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Looking For Better Ways To Rank B Schools

Looking For Better Ways To Rank B Schools

Finally, MBA programs outside the U.S. are being included in BUSINESS WEEK's annual rankings ("The best B-schools," Cover Story, Oct. 2). This progress was long overdue. From the perspective of foreigners, ignoring non-U.S. programs shows arrogance, ethnocentrism, and insularity, i.e. Americans are too inward-looking to appreciate anything foreign.

It is stating the obvious to say that business has become highly international over the past decades. The best foreign MBA programs long ago closed the gap, providing a global perspective on business management. The day will soon come when any ranking limited to the U.S. will be dismissed as too narrow. Given today's global environment, a domestic ranking is almost irrelevant.

Gautam Parikh

San Jose, Calif.

I was pleased to see that this year's B-school survey continued to evolve from the last. As a recent graduate of a smaller, more entrepreneurial program (Babson College), I have had to explain the rankings to friends at other schools: Our starting salary and number of job offers are lower, since we tend to "create" jobs, not just "take" them, and we have less big-name corporate representation, since we have smaller classes.

Now I find there is another piece of the rankings ("intellectual capital") and that the bias is now in academic research. My program (and many others) put an emphasis on teaching, rather than on research. Many of these professors would rather enliven a class discussion than slog away on peer-reviewed journals. Not that these are unimportant--indeed academic research is important--but your rankings need to consider how faculty are connected with industry and explore what entrepreneurship "really" means in a business school environment.

Sometimes I feel as if I am reading a political poll with my school labeled the Ralph Nader: smart, intelligent, but just "not a viable candidate" and therefore not included in debates.

Ian White

Brooklyn, N.Y.

Which company contributes most to the economy: 1) one with sales of $10 million per employee, or 2) one with sales of $1 million per employee? If the first company has one employee, while the second one has 10,000 employees, then the first company's contribution is only $10 million compared with the second one's $10 billion.

Although I'm happy to see that you have included "intellectual capital" as a factor in ranking B-schools, you have done it based on contribution per faculty employee rather than contribution per school. It is invalid to measure a school's intellectual contribution based on publications per faculty, just as it would be invalid to measure a firm's economic contribution based on sales per employee.

Darold Barnum

Professor of Management

College of Business Administration

University of Illinois


While rankings are necessarily subjective, and I know you're in for lots of criticism for perceived swings and inconsistencies, it should be pointed out that in the seven times you have done these rankings since 1988, four schools (Wharton, Northwestern, Harvard, and Michigan) have been ranked in the top 10 every single time. That's pretty consistent for almost half of the top 10. Keep up the good work.

David Treece