ON BUSINESSWEEK’S NEW ALUMNI SURVEY STANFORD IS FIRST AND HARVARD IS SECOND
Somewhat more valuable, perhaps, is the magazine’s survey of alumni, which now accounts for 30% of the weight. Stanford took first place in this part of the ranking with Harvard second. The alums were surveyed before a major controversy broke out at Stanford this year involving Dean Garth Saloner and his affair with a faulty member who is married to another professor at the school (see Stanford Confidential: Sex, Lies & Loathing At America’s No. 1 Business School). Many believe the highly embarrassing and negative media attention the controversy has drawn will severely damage alumni support and enthusiasm for the school. There are some quirks here as well, with Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business third, a likely result of cheerleading among alumni, but the top of the alumni ranking generally looks pretty solid with No. 4 UC-Berkeley fourth, No. 5 Emory, No. 6 UCLA, No. 7 Duke, No. 8 Dartmouth, No. 9 Yale, and No. 10 University of Virginia.
To its credit, Businessweek based its alumni results on three different factors: the median increase in compensation, the satisfaction alums expressed with their current job paths, and finally 16 questions about their overall MBA experience. Adding the compensation data in the mix helped to offset the inevitable cheerleading that would go on in such a survey.
Critics, however, will have a field day with other parts of the survey. Businessweek‘s poll of employers, which accounts for the most weight in the methodology at 35%. It shows that the employers willing to pay among the highest starting salaries to MBAs are graduating from schools that rank 14th and 21st. The two institutions that hold the dubious distinction of those employer ranks are none other than Stanford GSB and Dartmouth Tuck.
RECRUITER SURVEY STILL YIELDS QUESTIONABLE RESULTS
Those schools share a more obvious distinction: they are both small in size and naturally attract corporate recruiters who come away empty handed. So does that mean that employers think less of Stanford and Tuck MBAs? Not a chance. Yet, those schools rank below the University of Washington (12) and Carnegie Mellon (13). Consider that Stanford has the largest percentage of graduates who are off the mainstream MBA market, preferring to either start their own companies or join early state startups that don’t methodically recruit MBAs. Tuck, located in Hanover, N.H., has a smaller pool of on-campus recruiters given its location. Also surprisingly, Wharton, which typically places No. 1 or 2 in employer surveys, is fifth behind MIT Sloan.
The bigger problem with Businessweek‘s recruiter survey is that many of the respondents are alumni of the schools they are rating. In MBA recruiting, it is typical for a company to send back graduates to their alma maters to interview candidates. Obviously, alumni would be biased in favor of their schools. The magazine acknowledges this problem by noting that alumni tend to rate their schools “significantly more favorably than non-alumni.” Nonetheless, Businessweek continues to survey everyone who recruits at its target schools as opposed to the top officials at companies who are in charge of overall MBA recruiting.
The magazine said it surveyed 16,984 recruiters and received responses from 1,461 at 672 firms. However, fewer than 250 companies make the market for MBAs and, therefore, fewer than 250 would be a position to give an unbiased opinion about the MBAs their companies recruit. To dampen the impact of the bias–but not to eliminate it–Businessweek changed the way it calculated its recruiter ranking, basing it on both the average ranking by all responding recruiters as well as the number of ratings each school received or what the magazine called “reach.” The magazine said it excluded alumni respondents while measuring each school’s reach. The response rate for the recruiter survey was just 8.6%–a massive decrease from the 36% response rate Businessweek had when it did upfront due diligence to identify the corporate officials who oversee MBA recruiting at their companies.
HEAVY CHEERLEADING IN THE STUDENT SURVEY?
Businessweek‘s student survey again produces results that suggest heavy cheerleading by respondents who obviously that their answers will impact their schools’ ranking. The University of Maryland again took first place for the second time in two years, while Rice University scored second. Both Michigan State (7) and Georgia Tech (8) did better in the student survey than Harvard Business School (19), Stanford GSB (14), and Dartmouth Tuck (17). Those not-very-credible outcomes occur even though the magazine takes it earlier survey of just graduated students and gives it a 25% weight. The latest survey, therefore, counts for the remaining 75% weight in the formula for the student poll.
Go to next page to see our table of the new ranking and year-over-year changes.