A COMPOSITE INDEX THAT IS NOT UNLIKE NATE SILVER’S APPROACH TO ANALYSIS
This is not unlike the prescient analysis that Nate Silver, the New York Times blogger, brought to the recent Presidential election. By smartly analyzing each political poll and averaging the results across all of them, Silver came to a greater truth than could be revealed by any single poll. When the election was done, he was pretty much the only outside observer who had accurately predicted the popular vote and the electoral vote outcome.
The index numbers accompanying the rank of each school allows you to assess how far above or behind one school is versus another. This is especially helpful because in some cases there is no meaningful difference between the schools. Yet, some of these rankings, including The Financial Times, still fail to provide the underlying index numbers that lead to a numerical rank.
Even a glimpse of the rankings from each of the four sources will often show wildly different results. Consider the Said Business School at the University of Oxford. It’s highest ranking comes from BusinessWeek which says the school’s full-time MBA program is the fifth best outside the U.S. Forbes magazine believes Said offers the sixth best non-U.S. one-year MBA program. Meantime, The Economist and The Financial Times aren’t nearly as impressed. The Economist gives Oxford its lowest ranking, placing it 19th among non-U.S. schools and 48th in the world. The FT ranks Said tenth best outside the U.S.
EACH OF THE UNDERLYING RANKINGS MEASURES COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THINGS
Why the fairly significant differences? Mainly because each ranking measures 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–specifically 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. Among non-U.S. schools, York University’s excellent Schulich School, for example, is ranked fifth by The Economist, 14th by BusinessWeek, and tenth by Forbes. But the school is comparatively snubbed by The Financial Times with a ranking of 31 outside the U.S. and 59th globally.
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. The highly regarded Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, ranked fifth by the FT outside the U.S., failed to even make the Forbes list. The Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, ranked sixth by the FT, didn’t make either of the shorter lists put out by BusinessWeek or Forbes.
FAIRLY LARGE DISPARITIES EXIST AMONG EACH OF THE FOUR MOST INFLUENTIAL RANKINGS OF INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS
Indeed, 20 of the non-U.S. schools on this year’s Economist ranking weren’t on The Financial Times’ list, including schools as high as No. 9, the University of Bath’s School of Management. Similarly, though The Financial Times ranks the Indian School of Business ninth among non-U.S. schools, the institution is not even on The Economist’s global MBA ranking.
When schools move up or down the list, it’s because their full-time MBA programs were judged differently by one or more of the four major rankings. Warwick’s 17-place jump this year can be attributed to a much better showing in The Financial Times’ 2012 ranking as well as the school’s inclusion on the Forbes’ list. The FT ranked the school 14th among non-U.S. programs, up substantially from 32nd in 2011. Forbes ranked the school eighth on its list of one-year MBA programs outside the U.S.
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.
INDIA HAS TWO SCHOOLS ON OUR LIST OF THE TOP 50
Indeed, of the 11 schools whose MBA programs are new to the list, eight of them made their appearance among the institutions ranked 40th to 50th. They include No. 40 University of St. Gallen’s Business School in Switzerland and No. 41 Aston Business School in Birmingham, U.K.
India’s highest ranked school, the Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad, rose three places to finish with a rank of 24th this year, up from 27th in 2011. The country’s only other entrant on the list, the Indian School of Business, lost a little ground, slipping eight places to 43rd from 35th a year earlier. The slip was due to a slightly lower ranking by The Financial Times which places ISB ninth, down from seventh among non-U.S. schools in 2011.
(See next page for our ranking of the best MBA programs outside the U.S.)