A New Way To Rank Business Schools

Last month, the Positive Impact Rating (PIR) for Business Schools unveiled its second annual report that ranks 46 business schools from 21 countries worldwide. Students from these schools built the rating evaluating the performance of the schools in areas like student support, culture, public engagement, and learning methods.

Conventional rankings measure the quality of MBA programs and serve as a marker of quality for prospective students. The PIR provides a more comprehensive overview of B-schools, looking beyond finances and numbers to prioritize the student experience.

Thomas Dyllick-Brenzinger, director of the Institute for Business Sustainability in Lucerne, Switzerland, and one of the founders of the Positive Impact Rating, says current MBA ranking models offer a “limited perspective.”

“It’s basically focusing on a singular function to provide easy access to highly paid jobs and careers,” Dyllick-Brenzinger tells Poets&Quants. “So it’s a very limited perspective.”


Source: https://www.positiveimpactrating.org/the-rating

In the second edition and for the first time, the PIR was launched last month at the virtual United Nations Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) Global Forum. The PRME initiative supported by the United Nations influenced the foundations of the PIR model: The PRME “calls on business schools all over the world to engage their education, research, and outreach activities to advance social responsibility and sustainability,” reads the PIR case study.

“Established rankings have come to be used as a marketing tool for business schools,” reads the case study made by Positive Impact Rating’s founders for the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute. “They have become important tools for positioning the school on a national and international market,” .

Under the premise that “MBA rankings follow the money,” the association developed a new model that transforms the idea of a “ranking” and puts upfront the values of sustainability and student’s experiences rather than salaries post-graduation. PIR’s founders say the model came from the need to bridge the gap and provide a more insightful overview on business schools.

“We think that students have been really neglected so far. And if they have been asked… [is] only with regards to the placement success, their career success, their salaries, which is fine, that’s one dimension. Still, it’s not the only dimension that students are usually interested in when they think about studying,” Dyllick-Brenzinger says.


The rating survey asks students 20 questions in seven relevant impact dimensions that sit within three areas: Energizing, Educating, and Engaging. The overall PIR score of the business school is used to position the schools across five levels. “PIR has been designed as a tool to improve and transform business education,” says Katrin Muff, president of the Positive Impact Rating Association. “It enables schools to understand what a positive impact for society is, according to their students. The PIR highlights the potential for improvement, even for leading schools.”

The first PIR report included the perspective of 48 students per school; this year, the assessment jumped up to 187 students per school, expanding to more than 9,000 students globally.

“That is a massively large number of students that have been participating. And if we look at the geographic distribution, it’s really becoming a global tool,” says Dyllick-Brenzinger says. He adds that one of the biggest challenges for the PIR is competing against well-positioned existent rankings.

“It is very difficult to beat (the existing rankings),” but the PIR Association focused on functionality and building relationships with other universities to follow the model. “What we came up with is that we said to different focus students, and we said, ‘It’s not just a rating tool, but it’s also a tool for supporting school development.’”


Four schools achieved Level 5 status in the 2021 PIR, three of which are in India. Of the 46 total schools in the rating, only three are in the United States, and none is ranked higher than 50th by either Poets&Quants or U.S. News. See the next page for details.

The PIR utilizes an online questionnaire that collects the students’ responses. As soon as the student enters the data, they can break into the different categories like gender, nationality, international students, age groups. The organization connects with the universities through student organizations while they help them reach more students within the university.

“(The rating) offers the safety of groups rather than individual ranks and intends to foster collaboration,” reads the first PIR report.

Additionally, the report includes a section where the students can voice their concerns and provide a broad overview regarding their universities’ practices; some of them include:

1. Teaching outdated theories and models of economics and business.
2. Using single-use plastics on campus.
3. Employing staff with no knowledge, experience, or passion in sustainability.
4.Unsustainable food and catering services on campus
5. Practices that continue to create waste
6. Offering degrees without mandatory sustainability courses.

Learn more at Positive Impact Rating for Business Schools’ website. See the 2021 PIR list of schools on the next page.

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