10 Biggest Surprises In Bloomberg Businessweek’s 2016 MBA Ranking

The new Kellogg Global Hub sits on the shores of Lake Michigan. Photo by Mike Crews

The new Kellogg Global Hub sits on the shores of Lake Michigan. Photo by Mike Crews

4. Northwestern University’s Kellogg School Plunges To Its Lowest BW Rank Ever

The Kellogg School is just a few months away from the opening of a new $220 million home on the Evanston lakefront. The six-story glass-and-steel complex (photo above) is just one of many improvements this school has underdone in recent years, from revitalizing its entrepreneurship offerings to carving out a new business school “discipline” in how to scale a business. But this week Businessweek gave the school no respect.

Kellogg plummeted six places from third to ninth, its lowest rank ever on the Businessweek list. This would be more worrying if the school had also fallen on U.S. News’ list this year. Instead, Kellogg gained one place and slid into a tie with MIT Sloan for fifth place. In the Financial Times ranking this year, the school improved by three places to 11th on the global list and eighth among U.S. MBA programs.

How to interpret Kellogg’s BW slip? According to Businessweek, the school fell in four of the five categories measured in the ranking. It dropped five places in the employer survey, from 2 to 7; eight places in the alumni survey, from 11 to 19; seven places in the student survey, from 6 to 13; and five places in the salary rank, from 5 to 10. The only metric that showed improvement was job placement where Kellogg went from 34 to 18, but that measure only accounts for 10% of the ranking and isn’t all that consequential given how bunched up those percentages are.

The more troublesome decline was in the employer survey. There are a few possibilities for the fall: 1) The head of Kellogg’s career management center turned over in the past year. That could have impacted the care and feeding of recruiters who respond to the survey; 2) The school’s very small percentage of MBAs going into finance, a record low 13% this year, which could disadvantage Kellogg with financial recruiters, and 3) A poorly designed and highly flawed survey where alumni recruiters are surveyed and sample size can result in greater movement up and down the ranking than anything else.

One of INSEAD's three campuses in Fontainebleau, France

One of INSEAD’s three campuses in Fontainebleau, France

5. Where In The World Is INSEAD, London Business School and HEC Paris?

Ever since Businessweek began publishing separate rankings for domestic and international schools, the lists have been published together–on the same day. This time around, Businessweek chose to delay the publication of its global school ranking. The magazine gave no reason why it did so, only indicating in a news release that the international list would come “soon.”

We can only speculate about the delay, but we attribute it to the absence of Francesca Levy who oversees these rankings and the departure of Jonathan Rodkin, a statistican, who had the title of rankings and research coordinator. Rodin left in December of last year and began work as an associate consultant at the pollster Gallup. Levy, who joined the magazine in January of 2014, left Businessweek for a maternity leave in September and is expected back to work next month.

Rankings are extraordinarily complex exercises. When Businessweek lost its entire business school team in 2013, along with their 22 years of accumulated experience covering the beat, the magazine put itself at a severe disadvantage in carrying out these projects with credibility and authority. A spokesperson tells us the international ranking will be published during the week of Dec. 5.

The new home of Yale University 's School of Management - photo by Chris Choi

The new home of Yale University ‘s School of Management – photo by Chris Choi

6. Yale School of Management Suffers A Surprising Setback

After jumping five places to rank eighth in U.S. News earlier this year, Yale’s School of Management seemed unstoppable. The school catapulted over six of the world’s most prominent business schools to gain its highest ranking ever from U.S. News. Then comes Businessweek and Yale falls three places 14th when just about everyone would have expected the school to enter BW’s Top 10.

Has Dean Ted Snyder lost the magic touch? We don’t think so. Snyder has led the school on a steady march up all the rankings since his arrival at SOM in July of 2011. He has led revolutionary change there. This was the same ranking, by the way, that named SOM the sixth best school in 2014, up from lowly 21st place. For those keeping score, Yale SOM went from 21 to 6 to 11 and now 14. In other words, it’s all over the place when it comes to Businessweek‘s ranking.

The culprit this year was the school’s showing in the magazine’s employer survey where SOM fell 13 places to 22nd from ninth a year earlier. Everyone knows that 13 is an unlucky number and so it is for Yale SOM this year. Given all the other ranking victories Snyder has racked up and BW‘s imperfect methodology, it’s not much to worry about, even though Snyder tends to embrace Andy Grove’s long-held belief that Only The Paranoid Survive. He has an Enron jacket and a vintage Osborne computer in his office to remind him to help maintain Yale SOM’s reputation.

DON’T MISS: BIG CHANGES IN BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK’S 2016 MBA RANKING

About The Author

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.