Duke Fuqua: The iPhone Of B-Schools?

Duke University's Fuqua School of Business

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business

If Harvard Business School is the Walgreens of business schools, and The Wharton School is the Discover Card, then Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business appears to be the iPhone of the world’s best business schools. Believe it?

Fuqua is the latest school to subject itself to a survey that spits out a net promoter score, a measurement of stakeholder loyalty and satisfaction. And the administrators at Fuqua must be more than pleased with the school’s eye-popping score of 67—right on par with the iPhone (67) and just below Apple itself (70)–and even more joyful that net promoter numbers for a couple of more highly selective rivals pale in comparison.

In February, Harvard Business School’s MBA student newspaper, The Harbus, reported the school scored a net promoter score of 41. In March, The Wharton Journal reported Wharton’s score of 51. “In the spirit of friendly competition, we ran our own survey and compared the results,” The Wharton Journal stated, speaking of Harvard’s score. “At 51, our NPS score is almost 25% higher than HBS, putting us squarely in the company of brands such as Discover Card (52) and State Farm (45).” Harvard’s 41 is more akin to Walgreen’s (42) and State Farm (45).


Well, not so fast. Duke’s Fuqua appears to be getting the last laugh, even though Fuqua Dean William “Bill” Boulding insists the net promoter score was a piece of a bigger survey and the purpose was to get a better sense of “where things stand with alums”—and not meant to be competitive with other schools.

“I put this in the category of good news that suggests that we’re doing at least some of the things in the right way,” Boulding says. “We didn’t actually collect the data in response to the data collected at Wharton and Harvard. We contracted with an outside firm without knowing this would be a measurement collected.” Boulding says it’s important for a business school to know how their alums are doing and if they need any support from the school.

The survey, conducted in April by Northstar Research Partners, had 252 of the school’s alumni participate. The report was released to Poets&Quants from the school this week. It should be noted that the integrity of Fuqua’s survey most likely carries more weight since an independent research firm undertook it, compared to the online school newspaper polls at HBS and Wharton. It’s also important to consider that the newspapers surveyed current students, while Fuqua took the pulse of alumni.

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