Are The Very Best Business Schools Really This Bad?



Name the business school that turns out the best MBAs for decision making?

Or how about the best MBA graduates who can work collaboratively with others?

If you think Harvard, Stanford, or Wharton should be near the top, you’d be wrong, according to the recently published results of Bloomberg Businessweek’s survey of corporate recruiters last year.

The best MBAs for decision making? Michigan State’s Broad School of Business.

For sheer motivation and drive? The University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.


And for MBAs who are the most collaborative? The University of Western Ontario’s Ivey School of Business. In fact, on this measure, Harvard Business School ranked next to last out of 67 MBA programs all over the world. Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, long recognized as a leader in turning out team-oriented MBAs, was ranked 22nd behind such schools as North Carolina State and the University of Maryland.

In fact, according to Businessweek, Hult International Business School—which disappeared from The Financial Times’ ranking of the top 100 MBA programs—did significantly better at graduating the most collaborative MBAs than Stanford, Chicago, Columbia, London, INSEAD, and MIT Sloan, among others.

Dumbfounded by these results? You should be, because they make little to no sense. There’s a saying that often finds its way in business school classrooms: Garbage In, Garbage Out. That’s especially appropriate here with the publication this week of some of the most head-scratching assertions ever made about business schools.


Consider the University of Western Ontario’s Ivey Business School in Ontario, Canada. Ivey has long had one of the better MBA programs, but no one considers the institution better than the truly elite schools of business in the world. In fact, most rankings rarely place Ivey at the top of the best Canadian schools, though BW did put Ivey first this past year partly due to these results. The Financial Times has four other Canadian schools ahead of Ivey which is ranked 97th out of 100 schools globally.

Yet, Ivey is in the top three of seven of ten core MBA skills, according to Businessweek. Not only did Ivey rank first in churning out the best MBAs who work collaboratively, but also first in producing graduates with the best communication skills, the best leadership skills, the best strategic thinkers and the second best in motivation and drive as well as quant skills.

In fact, these survey results show that Ivey MBAs have better quant skills than the graduates of Chicago Booth, MIT Sloan, Columbia Business School, NYU Stern, Stanford, UCLA, London and INSEAD. That’s as improbable for a school that is largely reliant on the case study method of teaching as pigs that can fly.

How Businessweek’s Recruiter Survey Ranks The Top Schools On Key Traits

P&Q Rank & School Collaboration Quant Skills Leadership Motivation/Drive
  1. Stanford 25 15 5 4
  2. Harvard 66 32 4 38
  3. UPenn (Wharton) 62 3 33 15
  4. Chicago (Booth) 61 5 24 23
  5. Columbia 60 9 19 33
  6. Northwestern (Kellogg) 22 25 22 32
  7. MIT (Sloan) 49 8 21 24
  8. Dartmouth (Tuck) 17 23 39 43
  9, Duke (Fuqua) 21 21 29 21
10. UC=Berkeley (Haas) 31 21 54 29
11. Michigan (Ross) 41 31 25 45
12. Yale 48 27 34 27
13. Virginia (Darden) 11 17 15 10
14. UCLA (Anderson) 32 19 51 25
15. Cornell (Johnson) 46 20 23 42
16. NYU (Stern) 54 13 49 31
17. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) 40 1 7 49
18. UNC (Kenan-Flagler) 8 34 6 12
19. Texas-Austin (McCombs) 18 22 9 11
20. Emory (Goizueta) 57 30 18 3
20. Indiana (Kelley) 42 29 36 56

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek Skills Report