To help meet Forbes’ threshold for alumni participation for its ranking of the best MBA programs, Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management is offering alums the chance to win a $269 Apple Watch. The unusual offer—described in a recent Facebook post—is being made so that at least 15% of the school’s full-time MBA alumni in the Class of 2012 fill out a survey Forbes uses to rank business schools.
While it’s common for schools to send emails encouraging their alums to complete ranking surveys sent by Bloomberg Businessweek, Forbes, The Financial Times, and The Economist, it’s unusual that a school would offer an incentive to gain compliance. The minimum participation levels vary from one survey to the next. Bloomberg Businessweek, for example, does not require a percentage of respondents but rather a minimum of at least 30 students to be included in its ranking. The Financial Times insists at least 20% of alumni reply to the survey, with at least 20 fully completed responses. The Economist mandates a minimum response rate that is equivalent to 25% of the latest intake or 50 students/alumni (whichever is lower)—to be included in its ranking.
Graziadio Dean Deryck J. van Rensburg, who assumed the deanship at the school in November after serving as former president of global ventures at The Coca-Cola Company, sent emails to alumni relaying the Apple Watch offer. “We’ve done this before,” says Lisa Perry, director of marketing and communications at Graziadio. “This is just part of our broader engagement with alumni.” The previous incentive offered by the school to alumni, thinks Perry, was an Apple iPad.
In 2015, the last time Forbes ranked full-time MBA programs, Pepperdine ranked 63 out of the 65 schools that made the list. The magazine surveyed 17,400 alumni at 95 schools regarding their pre- and post-M.B.A. compensation, career choice and location. Forbes said it had a responsse rate of 24%. If a response rate for a school is under 15%, the magazine will exclude the school from its rankings.
Here’s the Facebook post published by the school:
“Want to win an Apple Watch and support Pepperdine Graziadio?
“2012 Full-Time MBA Graduates, graduating between August 2011 to June 2012, should fill out the 2017 Forbes Best Business School Survey via email directly from Forbes. Details about the survey and how to win an Apple Watch were included in a separate email from Dean Van Rensburg.
“Your participation plays a vital role in ensuring Pepperdine Graziadio’s inclusion in the rankings, as we must hit a minimum response rate to be considered. Thank you for your paerticipation!”
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