The Economist Ranks B-School Networks

networkingEver hear the crack that you come for the beer and stay for the wedding? In business school, you may come for the knowledge, but you probably stay for the networks.

Who wouldn’t? You want a job when you graduate … preferably a cushy six-figure gig. And it’s your connections, as much as your resume, that’ll get you in the door. Most often, you’ll find those networks at the elite MBA programs. It’s the circle of life: These schools attract the best students, which (in turn) draws the top firms to campus to hire. With this advantage, these graduates meet all the right people–and can introduce them to members of their alma mater.

Of course, just because you have a renowned brand and a deep endowment doesn’t guarantee you’ll have the best network. And a recent sub-ranking from The Economist proves this point. In its “Potential to Network” ranking, The Economist scores three areas to come up with its ranking: “The ratio of registered alumni to current students (the more alumni per student, the better); the number of countries in which a school has an alumni chapter; and students’ own perceptions of the effectiveness of the school’s alumni network” (all weighted equally).

As expected, the American business schools were well-represented in the top 10, holding six spots. But here’s something unexpected: Harvard, Stanford, Kellogg, Wharton, MIT Sloan, Columbia, and Tuck didn’t make the top 10. And which American school was rated as the top school for networking? Thunderbird! That’s right, despite organizational dysfunction, poor graduate placement, and a No. 97 ranking on The Economist’s global rankings, they still rank third worldwide. And which American schools made the top 10? Try NYU (Stern), California-Berkeley (Haas), Notre Dame (Mendoza), USC (Marshall), and Virginia (Darden).

Overall, the No. 1 school for networking was France’s HEC School of Management, followed by the Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School in Belgium. According to The Economist, HEC Paris “benefits from a large population of alumni relative to the size of its student intake, and which also has one of the most extensive networks of overseas alumni chapters.”

Here are the overall rankings:

Networking RankingEconomist RankingSchool
18HEC School of Management, Paris
275Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School (Belgium)
397Thunderbird School of Global Management
47New York University – Leonard N Stern School of Business
53University of California at Berkeley – Haas School of Business
638University of Notre Dame – Mendoza College of Business
756Warwick Business School (UK)
863University of Southern California – Marshall School of Business
927Melbourne Business School – University of Melbourne (Australia)
104University of Virginia – Darden Graduate School of Business Administration

Alas, American schools fared better in a related ranking: Student satisfaction with the size and helpfulness of their alma mater’s network. Here, American schools occupy nine of the top 10 places, led by Dartmouth (Tuck), Stanford, and Notre Dame (Mendoza). Sure, optimism is an intrinsic American trait. As The Economist notes, “there may also be an element of confirmation bias, in which students justify to themselves the expense of an MBA at an elite school by reassuring themselves of its benefit to their careers.” Still, many American MBAs are seemingly happy with their choice … and that can only help when a second year calls them up to pick their brain over coffee.

Here is The Economist’s satisfaction ranking:

Satisfaction RankingSchool
1Dartmouth (Tuck)
3Notre Dame (Mendoza)
4Virginia (Darden)
5USC (Marshall)
6Cornell (Johnson)
7Michigan (Ross)
8North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)
10IMD (Switzerland)

Source: The Economist

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