How Duke Achieved Its No. 1 Businessweek Ranking

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, which topped the 2014 list, the first time Duke has ever been No. 1 in any of the five key rankings, is an exceptional school that regularly attracts first rate students and a highly diverse group of corporate recruiters, among the most diverse of any business school in the world.

That Duke managed to dislodge Chicago Booth from its top perch is especially remarkable because the Fuqua’s student scores were the lowest ever for a No. 1 Businessweek MBA program. Duke’s student satisfaction rank was 22nd, twice as low as Chicago’s 11th place finish two years ago in this part of the ranking. It is evidence that other changes made to the student poll by Businessweek’s editors have effectively rendered the student component of the ranking–despite the fact that 10,605 MBAs filled those surveys out–meaningless.

So is Duke really better than Wharton or Stanford, which is ranked behind it? Or Harvard, which is ranked eighth? Or Darden, which boasts the best MBA teaching faculty in the world, at 20th?

A LOOK AT DUKE’S HISTORICAL EMPLOYER RANKINGS 

All you have to do is look at Duke’s historical employer rankings since Businessweek began publishing its biennial ranking in 1988. Up until this year, through 13 separate surveys over 26 years, Duke averaged an employer ranking of slightly higher than 10th place. It’s lowest rank was 14th in both 1994 and 1992. It’s highest rank before this year was seventh in 2012 and 1998. Moving to a rank of second from an average of 10.2 is an aberration, the result of flawed methodology.

For every school that won advantage due to the methodology revamp, there were numerous schools that were penalized, including Harvard, Kellogg, Michigan, Cornell, and Berkeley–all of which scored well below their historic averages on the newly changed employer survey.

Bloomberg Businessweek EMPLOYER Rankings From 2014 to 1996

 

2014 Rank & School’12’10’08’06’04’02’00’98’96
  1. UPenn (Wharton)223253111
  2. Duke (Fuqua)781381298710
  3. Chicago (Booth)111315435
  4. Stanford GSB57210771297
  5. Northwestern (Kellogg)446132222
  6. Columbia897664546
  7. Harvard334421364
  8. Yale SOM273733262820232730
  9. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)172021131518141526
10. Michigan (Ross)6510546653
11. Virginia (Darden)916141413119811
12. MIT (Sloan)1014591487148
13. UNC (Kenan-Flagler)141714181715162327
14. Dartmouth (Tuck)111511151112171312
15. NYU (Stern)16221312101011109
16. UCLA (Anderson)192618172123131817
17. Emory (Goizueta)23313036273034NANA
18. Indiana (Kelley)20189111819202013
19. Buffalo45NANANANANANANANA
20. UT-Austin (McCombs)152922192322181215
21. Cincinnati (Lindner)NANANANANANANANANA
22. Cornell (Johnson)12231516813101118
23. UC-Irvine (Merage)50NA45NANANANANANA
24, Vanderbilt (Owen)31432732363524NA40
25. Wake Forest4051NANANANANANANA

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek rankings

The same can be said of Businessweek’s attempt to rank intellectual capital by measuring the number of articles in 20 business journals authored by a school’s faculty. The fact that UC-San Diego’s Rady School of Management was ranked first on this metric—ahead of Stanford, Chicago Booth, Wharton, Berkeley, and Columbia, among others—is plenty reason to scratch one’s head. Duke came in second here, just behind UC-San Diego.

About the Author...

John A. Byrne

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.