IMD Tries To Pull Out Of Economist Ranking

The IMD campus in Lausanne, Switzerland

The IMD campus in Lausanne, Switzerland

After tumbling 11 places last year in The Economist’s ranking of MBA programs to a 32nd place finish, Switzerland-based IMD pretty much had it. The long-time prestige business school decided that it would opt out of the ranking just as Harvard and Wharton have done so in the past.

Trouble is, The Economist, due to publish its 2016 ranking on Thursday (Oct. 14), won’t allow IMD and its 90-person MBA program to walk away. Instead, the magazine has told the school it will use publicly available data as well as old graduate surveys to keep ranking its MBA program.

That has Ralf Boscheck, program director of IMD’s MBA, hopping mad. He believes the ranking is severely flawed and its methodology so vague as to make its calculations impossible to duplicate. “Even if they make us number one, the ranking is bogus,” he tells Poets&Quants. “We are a small school and we don’t want to put up with it. We won’t participate. We are the only one that is not participating.”

OVER THE YEARS, OTHER SCHOOLS HAVE UNSUCCESSFULLY TRIED TO BOW OUT

Of the five most influential rankings of MBA programs, The Economist has been consistent in one area: delivering remarkably quirky results (see Booth Tops 2015 Economist Ranking). Only four years before ranking IMD 32 last year, The Economist dubbed the school’s MBA program third best in the world in 2011 behind only Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. Not all that long ago, in 2008, The Economist actually ranked IMD as having the absolute best MBA program in the world. Now it’s between No. 31 Ohio State University and No. 33 Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

The Economist, which ranks MBA programs on 21 different metrics, openly cautions readers who use its rankings to essentially treat them with a grain of salt. “Results of rankings can be volatile, so they should be treated with caution,” according to the magazine. “The various media rankings of MBA programmes all employ a different methodology. None are definitive, so our advice to prospective students is to understand the ethos behind each one before deciding whether what it is measuring is what is important for you.”

Though IMD’s Boscheck is outraged by The Economist‘s decision to rank the school without its cooperation, the magazine’s decision is not without precedent. After Wharton fell from first place to fifth in Businessweek‘s ranking in 2002, then Dean Patrick Harker decided not to provide access to students for Businessweek‘s survey of MBA graduates, even convincing Harvard Business School to go along. But the magazine gained access to those email addresses, anyway, and still ranked the schools without their cooperation.

‘OUR GOAL IS TO HELP STUDENTS’

William Ridgers, the editor in charge of The Economist‘s ranking, defends the magazine’s decision to include a non-participating school. “We have always reserved the right to include schools that decline to fill out our surveys,” he tells Poets&Quants. “Our goal is to help to students when they are deciding on an MBA programme. It cannot be that we publish a ranking only of schools that like where they fall, and excludes those that are unhappy with their position. That is particularly true of world renowned schools such as IMD, which formerly topped our ranking, and which students would expect to see on the list. In such instances we must rely on using the latest available data, other published sources and estimates. That is of course unfortunate, though we will, as ever, be transparent about what we have done.”

After IMD’s steep decline last year from a rank of 21st a year earlier, Boscheck says he went to London last December to meet with Ridgers (see The Economist’s Ranking Guru).

To prep for that session, Boscheck says he crunched some numbers of his own, spoke with several other MBA directors and still couldn’t figure out how The Economist had ranked IMD as low as it did. “We had some data inconsistencies so I went and asked for clarification,” he says. “We had a nice, polite meeting. But when we got out of the meeting, we left puzzled.”

  • quest

    You must be jumping on bed happy that someone said positive thing about Mr. Boscheck !

  • C. Taylor

    I see you have very negative views of rankings, and apparently of business schools and their graduates in general. OK. Elevating the level of conversation will take more than spreading negativity.

    What constructive comments would you add? You say Boscheck is right?

  • Akiro61

    I am not Mr Boscheck!!!!!!

  • HekHak

    OK MR Boscheck. IMD is now 23rd worldwide, and 7th among non US schools. I think Economist is trying to re-conciliate with you 🙂

  • Akiro61

    Akiro61 is not an avatar, another pseudonym etc. – it’s a single contributor who is worried about the non sense written in this blog and the the fact that people do not understand that Ralf Boscheck is right independent from his personality and IMD.

  • Akiro61

    Akiro61 is not an avatar, another pseudonym etc. – it’s a single contributor who is worried about the non sense written in this blog and the the fact taht people do not understand that Ralf Boscheck is right independet from his personality and IMD.

  • Akiro61

    Are you able to read? The ranking is the problem and not the Biz school or a single professor. The ranking may be a business whether it is serious or scientific is another question!

  • herman

    ranking is a serious business and keeps business schools up to date and improve their offerings. It is not acceptable from what it used to be a good school like IMD to participate when they feel results are good and pull out when they hide something. IMD has a serious issues for three years. many of its alumni, faculty, officers talked about it. All that combined with a naturally nervous person who just protests and get angry for any little reasons. The results are on the recent grads who paid a fortune for the obsolete degree.

  • Akiro61

    What a poor discussion! It should not be about Ralf Boscheck and it should not be not about IMD, it should be about the pseudo-scientific approach of FT and other people and institutions providing a ranking which is totally meaningless regrading quality of biz schools. As a learning leader for more than 20 years watching carefully the biz school environment

  • Akiro61

    What a poor discussion! It should be not about Ralf Boscheck or IMD. The discussion should be about the nonsense of FT et. al. and their pseudo

  • Akiro61

    What a poor discussion! It is not about Ralf Boscheck and IMD it is about the non-sense

  • IMD-MBA

    with 45 first round interviews with BCG and 52 interview with Mckinsey this year + 40 amazon on campus for a class of 90 i think u might not be looking into the right places.

  • Warren

    you shouldn’t be defending IMD. it looks so poor for someone 9 years out of the school.

  • Considering_IMD

    It has been 9 years since 2008. at that time IMD MBA was ranked 6th
    worldwide. The decline started three years ago. Now, many recruiters don’t consider IMD as competitive as INSEAD or IE. It is on the same level of Cranfield, St Gallen, ESSEC, and perhaps RSM.

  • Memed Üzel

    That’s not sensitivity, that’s factual information with proof. Where is yours?

  • Memed Üzel

    Where do you get your numbers? Do business schools publish how many applicants they get? I would like to see a link otherwise they are just numbers.

  • Memed Üzel

    Sorry you feel that way. I am a full-time MBA from 2008 and don’t agree with you.

  • IMD EMBA 2015

    I felt that IMD just glitters and often mistaken to be as gold. In my experience, IMD is a good option only for those executives who are financed by their employers. For self-financing people it’s not the right choice. Many of my classmates agree with this opinion.

  • Considering_IMD

    Interesting – it looks like “quest” also stole my pseudonym. I am the original poster under this account – though I have no way to prove it, of course – and it seems this guy is indeed a pretty clear troll. Rather annoying.

  • C. Taylor
  • West

    why are you so sensitive when it comes to IMD criticism? it is pretty clear behavior..

  • Considering_IMD

    It looks like you are affiliated by some mean to IMD. You should be tolerant to accept others opinions. Anyway, are you sure the partnership degree with CKGSB still alive?

  • C. Taylor

    Case in point: Before he claimed the MBA program was canceled. Here, he claims the Dual Degree EMBA with Cheung Kong is canceled. He also tends to claim IMD is not in the black.

    Note he posts in this discussion under three pseudonyms: West, quest, and AA78. He will probably use more if this discussion is continued.

  • C. Taylor

    That guy posts under various pseudonyms. The only consistencies are inaccurate data/claims and vitriol directed at IMD. He also doesn’t like Boscheck and English is a second language for him. I’d say ignore him but his constant switching of pseudonyms will tend to mislead the passerby. So just watch for above mentioned themes and take them with a large dose of salt.

  • WEST

    IMD core business is the short courses executive education. IMD is not a degree programs provider, they quietly cancelled their EMBA with CKGSB in shanghai for the poor demand. Many suggest IMD will eventually abandon its full time MBA and merge it with its EMBA. This is serious thinking as the full time MBA causes a lot of troubles with virtually no profit or benefits. In fact, it disrupts professors from focusing on the lucrative executive education courses and in house courses for companies. As per Forbes ranking, the number of applications for full time MBA programs was 327 two years ago, when it was respected program. It is highly likely that the number for this year will be very small. I believe the number below of 210.

  • Considering_IMD

    If I may ask, where did you get the information about the number of applications?

  • AA78

    well, one of great achievements of Mr Boscheck is that he left no one untouched. He caused many tensions and hard to deal with him. He is just like a bull in a ceramic showroom!

  • quest

    Poor IMD. Ralf has damaged the program reputation and caused its quality to deteriorate. It would be better if he was asked how many applications they received this year? 210 !! this is shame.