Ross | Mr. Automotive Compliance Professional
GMAT 710, GPA 3.7
Wharton | Mr. Digi-Transformer
GMAT 680, GPA 4
Stanford GSB | Ms. 2+2 Tech Girl
GRE 333, GPA 3.95
Stanford GSB | Ms. Healthcare Operations To General Management
GRE 700, GPA 7.3
Chicago Booth | Ms. CS Engineer To Consultant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.31
Kenan-Flagler | Mr. Engineer In The Military
GRE 310, GPA 3.9
Chicago Booth | Mr. Oil & Gas Leader
GMAT 760, GPA 6.85/10
Stanford GSB | Mr. Seeking Fellow Program
GMAT 760, GPA 3
Wharton | Mr. Real Estate Investor
GMAT 720, GPA 3.3
Cornell Johnson | Ms. Chef Instructor
GMAT 760, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Mr. Climate
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
Wharton | Mr. New England Hopeful
GMAT 730, GPA 3.65
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Bangladeshi Data Scientist
GMAT 760, GPA 3.33
Harvard | Mr. Military Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 3.9
Ross | Ms. Packaging Manager
GMAT 730, GPA 3.47
Chicago Booth | Mr. Private Equity To Ed-Tech
GRE 326, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Mr. Gay Singaporean Strategy Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.3
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Electric Vehicles Product Strategist
GRE 331, GPA 3.8
Columbia | Mr. BB Trading M/O To Hedge Fund
GMAT 710, GPA 3.23
Columbia | Mr. Old Indian Engineer
GRE 333, GPA 67%
Harvard | Mr. Athlete Turned MBB Consultant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
Ross | Mr. Civil Rights Lawyer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.62
Stanford GSB | Mr. Co-Founder & Analytics Manager
GMAT 750, GPA 7.4 out of 10.0 - 4th in Class
Cornell Johnson | Ms. Environmental Sustainability
GMAT N/A, GPA 7.08
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Trucking
GMAT 640, GPA 3.82
Ross | Mr. Low GRE Not-For-Profit
GRE 316, GPA 74.04% First Division (No GPA)
Harvard | Mr. Marine Pilot
GMAT 750, GPA 3.98

The Dark Side Of MBA Rankings

The new Henry W. Bloch Executive Hall just opened last year

The new Henry W. Bloch Executive Hall just opened last year

How desperate can a business school be to get ranked?

In some cases, very desperate, especially when a school fails to make the most influential rankings published by U.S. News, Bloomberg BusinessWeek and the Financial Times.

Consider the University of Missouri—Kansas City’s Henry W. Bloch School of Management.  The school’s efforts to get a ranking—any kind or ranking—were the subject of a highly revealing series of investigative stories published last weekend by The Kansas City Star.

A PATTERN OF EXAGGERATIONS & MISSTATEMENTS TO ENHANCE REPUTATION

The newspaper found a pattern of exaggerations and misstatements that polished the school’s reputation as it sought to boost enrollment and open the checkbooks of donors, especially its primary benefactor Henry Bloch. No less crucial, the stories reveal how easy and how desperate a school might be to obtain a ranking, even one that few outsiders would bother to report—but at least the school could use it to promote and market itself to would-be applicants.

The irony in all this: The school is named for an entrepreneur whose signature line is “no shortcuts.” The co-founder of the H&R Block tax preparation firm had long sought greater recognition for a school. He made a $32 million gift to the business school in 2011, the largest in the university’s history.

Yet, it appears—based on the reporting of The Star—that shortcuts were indeed taken to get the school in the rankings game. Of course, this isn’t the first time a school has allegedly done less-than-ethical things to get a better ranking. Tulane University’s business school famously admitted reporting inflated GMAT averages and application numbers to U.S. News & World Report for several years so it would be ranked higher.

In its investigation, The Star reviewed thousands of pages of internal UMKC documents obtained through an open-records request, and interviewed scores of faculty and administrators. The reporters wrote that they discovered a number of embellishments designed to boost the Bloch School’s reputation. “Among them were inaccuracies and mischaracterizations of fact in the data the university supplied to the Princeton Review, which has awarded UMKC’s entrepreneurship program high rankings in four of the past five years,” the newspaper wrote.

COULD THE BLOCH SCHOOL BE BETTER THAN HARVARD, STANFORD & MIT–IN ANYTHING?

But the most fascinating part of the series turned on an academic study—published in 2011 in the Journal of Product Innovation Management—ranked the business school ahead of Harvard, Stanford, MIT and other elite universities in innovation management research. That is a hot area in business these days because it is the study of how entrepreneurs turn ideas into thriving companies.

The study, however, was written by two Chinese authors as visiting scholars at the Bloch School when the paper was written. The relationship between the university and the authors was undisclosed when the study was published. When it came out, the university wasted no time promoting the news. It crowed about the achievement in a news release, and the university chancellor even appeared at a formal announcement of the ranking, telling a crowd of people, ““Oh my, have we made a big score.”

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