McCombs School of Business | Mr. Microsoft Consultant
GMAT N/A, GPA 2.31
Tuck | Mr. Land Management
GMAT 760, GPA 3.85
Stanford GSB | Mr. Seller
GMAT 740, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Mr. Cricket From Kashmir
GMAT 730, GPA 8.5/10
Wharton | Mr. Researcher
GMAT 700, GPA 3.2
NYU Stern | Mr. Beer Guy
GRE 306, GPA 4.0
Columbia | Mr. MD/MBA
GMAT 670, GPA 3.77
Harvard | The Insurer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.4
Wharton | Mr. Data Dude
GMAT 750, GPA 4.0
Tepper | Mr. Automotive Strategy
GMAT 670 - 700 on practice tests, GPA 3.3
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Backyard Homesteader
GRE 327, GPA 3.90
Wharton | Mr. Finance to MBB
GMAT 760, GPA 4.0
London Business School | Ms. Social Impact Consulting
GRE 330, GPA 3.28
London Business School | Ms. Audit Meme
GMAT 710, GPA 3.5
Harvard | Mr. Tech Start-Up
GMAT 720, GPA 3.52
Tepper | Mr. Insurance Dude
GMAT 660, GPA 3.6
Kellogg | Ms. Indian Marketer
GMAT 680, GPA 8.9/10
NYU Stern | Mr. Middle Eastern Warrior
GMAT 720 (Estimated), GPA 3.0
Chicago Booth | Mr. Chile Real Estate
GMAT 740, GPA 3.02
Yale | Mr. Sustainability Manager
GRE 319, GPA 3.52
NYU Stern | Ms. Legal Officer
GMAT 700, GPA 4
Stanford GSB | Ms. Education Non-profit
GRE 330, GPA 3.0
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Social To Tech
GMAT 700, GPA 2.7
Wharton | Mr. Mobility Entrepreneur
GMAT 760, GPA 1st Division
HEC Paris | Mr. Business Man
GMAT 720, GPA 3.89
Harvard | Mr. Football Author
GMAT 760, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Mr. Deferred Admission
GRE 329, GPA 3.99

Ranking B-Schools On Intellectual Capital

Which of the top U.S. business schools crank out the most intellectual capital?

It’s an intriguing question, given the huge amounts of money that business schools devote to academic research by their faculties. At most schools, full-time tenure faculty spend more time researching and writing articles for publication in fairly esoteric journals than they do preparing for class and actually teaching.

One of the more intriguing parts of the latest BusinessWeek MBA ranking attempts to measure each school’s “intellectual capital.” The magazine takes a noble stab at this by tallying the number of articles published by each school’s faculty in 20 publications, ranging from the Journal of Accounting Research to the Harvard Business Review. BusinessWeek also awards a school extra points if a professor’s book was reviewed in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, or Bloomberg Businessweek. When the tally was complete, the scores are adjusted for faculty size so that schools with massive faculty members, such as Harvard, Wharton and Columbia, don’t have an unfair advantage.

What did the BusinessWeek survey find? The results are peculiar, to say the least. Columbia, Wharton, MIT, Northwestern, Harvard, and UCLA fail to make the top ten. Even though Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management is ranked overall as the fourth best school in the U.S. for an MBA, its intellectual ranking is a shockingly low 28th.

Other schools, highly ranked by BusinessWeek and other major media brands that rank MBA programs, are also rated surprisingly low on academic research by BW. Consider the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. It’s overall rank is 11, but its intellectual capital rank is a paltry 36. Southern Methodist University’s Cox School, which was ranked 12th best overall, received an academic research ranking of 40.

No less surprising, two of the top three schools in creating intellectual capital, according to BusinessWeek, are the the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business, ranked second, and Wake Forest University’s B-school, ranked third. Pretty much, no one in academia would be rating Maryland or Wake Forest above such powerhouse research-oriented schools as Columbia, Wharton, MIT, Stanford, and Chicago. Yet, BusinessWeek is awarding them kudos for intellectual capital.

Only one other of the five major MBA rankings takes a look at academic research. The Financial Times awards points to schools for papers “written by the faculty of each school in 40 academic and practitioner journals.” It measures output over a three-year period and then, like BusinessWeek, adjusts the results for faculty size.

The differences between the two publications are both amusing and thought-provoking. Harvard, rated by BusinessWeek as 14th, wins the academic research prize from the FT as the school producing the best academic research in the world. Yet, it should be pointed out, that most research-oriented faculties at such schools as Stanford, Wharton, Columbia and Chicago think Harvard is generally research light, largely because much of its “research” falls into case study production. Wake Forest, BW’s third ranked school, is rated 91st by the Financial Times on research–a difference of opinion that is 88 places off (see table below). Other schools where there are huge disparities between the two polls: Yale School of Management, which BW ranks as No. 9 and the FT as No. 37, and the University of Wisconsin, which BW ranks as No. 24 and the FT ranks as 53.

The similarities may give some credibility to the results of both surveys: Duke rates first in BusinessWeek and second in the FT on research. Dartmouth College’s Tuck School ranks fourth in BW and fifth in the FT. Stanford has a seventh place showing in the BW survey and a sixth place finish in the FT study. So you can be fairly certain that these schools, at least, deliver the goods when it comes to the production of intellectual capital.

HOW TWO MAJOR RANKINGS COMPARE ON RATING ACADEMIC RESEARCH

School & BW 2010

Intellectual Capital Rank

2010 FT Research RankDifference in Ranks
1. Duke University (Fuqua)2-1
2. University of Maryland (Smith)14-12
3. Wake Forest (Babcock)91-88
4. Dartmouth College (Tuck)5-1
5. California-Berkeley (Haas)7-2
6. Cornell University (Johnson)32-26
7. Stanford Graduate School of Business6+1
8. University of Chicago (Booth)4-4
9. Yale School of Management37-29
10. Rice University (Jones)16-6
11. University of Michigan (Ross)8+3
12. Columbia Business School16-4
13. Pennsylvania (Wharton)3+10
14. Harvard Business School1-13
15. UCLA (Anderson)26-11
16. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)32-16
17. University of Texas-Austin (McCoombs)22-5
18. MIT (Sloan)14+4
19. New York University (Stern)11+8
20. Georgia TechNRNA
21. Emory University (Goizueta)32-11
22. Illinois-Urbana Champaign24-2
23. Penn State University (Smeal)NRNA
24. University of Wisconsin-Madison53-29
25. Notre Dame (Mendoza)40-15

Source: BusinessWeek and The Financial Times 2010 rankings

What’s up? If BusinessWeek’s results are quirky, it’s because the methodology is quirky. Measuring academic output over only two years can lead to odd, distorted results. Picking only 20 journals to measure isn’t much of a sample when there are well more than twice that number that really count. Tossing in book reviews by only two newspapers and one magazine seems awfully random as well. The result: some oddball outcomes.

Like the Financial Times, BusinessWeek only gives its intellectual capital survey 10% of the weight in its overall ranking of the best B-schools. And its attempt to measure academic research is well-intentioned. Nonetheless, the result strains credulity and reflects poorly on the overall ranking.

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.