Why are the these four rankings often so wildly different from each other? Mainly because they measure very different things. The BusinessWeek ranking is largely based on student and corporate recruiter satisfaction. Forbes’ ranking is a simple measurement of an MBA’s return-on-investment. The Financial Times also puts much emphasis on compensation–specifcally what alums make three years after graduation and the percentage increase from pre-MBA salary–but the pay data is among some 20 different measured variables.
The excellent MBA programs at some of Canada’s finest universities would fare better on this list if not for the bias built into the Financial Times methodology against North American schools. York University’s excellent Schulich School, for example, is ranked second by The Economist, ninth by BusinessWeek, and tenth by Forbes. But the school is comparatively snubbed by The Financial Times with a ranking of 27.
In the same way, some of the newer MBA programs in China and India tend to get little notice in the BusinessWeek and Forbes rankings, but gain recognition by the Financial Times and The Economist. Both the highly regarded Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, ranked third by the FT outside the U.S., and the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, ranked sixth by the FT, fail to make the shorter lists put out by BusinessWeek or Forbes.
THE BIGGEST CHANGES ARE TYPICALLY FURTHER DOWN THE LIST
Bigger changes were most likely to occur further down the list, where the qualitative differences among the business schools aren’t nearly as great as they are at the top of the ranking. So small changes often can cause outsized results because the schools are so close together in overall quality—especially “quality” as it can be discerned by an external ranking. In these cases, the most significant changes tended to occur at schools which were either added or dropped from one of the major rankings in the past year.
Indeed, of the 11 schools whose MBA programs are new to the list, nine of them made their appearance among the institutions ranked 40th to 50th. They include No. 41 EADA Business School in Barcelona, Spain, the University of Cape Town in South Africa, and the SP Jain Institute of Management in Mumbai, India.
Some changes on the list occurred because of a result of an attempt to improve our methodology this year. Instead of using the global rank for a school as we did last year for both The Financial Times and The Economist surveys, we used the rank each should would have received had it not competed with U.S. schools. Why? Because it more effectively expresses the school’s position on a list of non-U.S. MBA programs. That change tended to shift greater weight than last year on The Financial Times and The Economist rankings.
(See next page for our ranking of the best MBA programs outside the U.S.)