IMD Tries To Pull Out Of Economist Ranking

Ralk Boscheck, MBA program director at IMD

Ralk Boscheck, MBA program director at IMD


Boscheck says he pointed out that a small school, such as IMD with only 90 graduates, boasted corporate recruiters in 2014 for 11 of 11 industry sectors, exactly the same as INSEAD. “That should suggest that the small school is outperforming the big schools which would more naturally attract recruiters of all sectors,” insists Bosheck. Yet, IMD was ranked 63th out of 100 schools in the “diversity of recruiters, while INSEAD was first. “We showed him some flaws and he said he was working on improving the mechanics of the ranking,” adds Boscheck, who believes that more than 30% of The Economist‘s metrics are “scale sensitive,” meaning they place smaller schools at a disadvantage in the ranking.

Boscheck maintains that basic questions about the magazine’s methodology were left unanswered. A follow-up telephone call to a freelancer who cranks out the ranking for The Economist also was “very polite” and “gave us some ideas of bits and pieces that we could improve. But the fundamental things were not answered, like the way things are actually calculated. We tried to retrofit the logic with people here and ended up with more questions than could be answered.”

Frustrated, Boscheck made the decision to pull out of the ranking. If the magazine makes improvements in the ranking, he would consider coming back the following year. Though Boscheck says he was told that the school’s participation was voluntary, a claim at odds with Ridger’s statement, The Economist then let him know that IMD could not pull out.


“We were told it was up to us to participate and now we are told it is not up to us,” steams Boscheck, who says that in earlier years Harvard and Wharton declined to participate with The Economist as well. “One month prior to publication, we were informed we would be ranked anyway based on public information. They said they would finesse the survey of MBA students and graduates by using the previous year’s result. They claim you need a 25% response rate on that survey (which won’t occur) but we are being ranked anyway. I find that a breach of methodology and it is not helpful for their credibility. They cannot pretend to do an objective ranking.

“I don’t understand the methodology. The last couple of years we have tried to systematically improve the program in general terms. We are punching way above our weight in comparison to the larger schools with larger faculties. And now to rank us on incomplete data and old data and whatever they do to massage it is a breach of methodology.”


Boscheck is especially perplexed about The Economist list because other rankings have cast IMD in a much better light. Earlier this year, The Financial Times ranked the school 13th best in the world, up seven places from 20th in 2015. Last year, Bloomberg Businessweek ranked the school fifth among international MBA programs, up four places from ninth in 2014, just behind No. 4 IE Business School in Spain and No. 6 Oxford University. On the Forbes’ list of the best one-year international MBA programs, IMD placed second last year behind only INSEAD.

To add insult to injury, he believes, The Economist could have at least told him that it would rank the school anyway back in February, instead of only three weeks ago. If so, Boscheck and his team could have at least had more time to think about it and prepare the necessary data for the magazine.

“I told them it was completely unacceptable,” he steams. “This is not about throwing mud around. If they can improve on the methodology, we would participate again. We gladly put up with rankings.”