Collaboration. Integrity. Environmental and Social Good.
Call it a Millennial greatest hits list. You work together to do the right thing for the largest number of people. You bring together the best minds to tackle the biggest challenges to achieve level playing fields. In theory, who could argue with that? In practice — well, that requires a lot of nuance…and a lot of training.
WHAT STAKEHOLDERS REALLY THINK
Business schools are increasingly filling that void. In the core curriculum, most programs require a team-based consulting project, replete with students assuming roles and holding each other accountable for results. Enron forced MBA programs to integrate ethics across their programming — and the financial collapse only gave it more immediacy. As companies pivot to a triple bottom line, business students are gravitating to purpose over profit and community commitment over shareholder value.
Question is, how do you measure a business school’s effectiveness in these areas?
Well, Bloomberg Businessweek might have some answers in their annual survey, which included 6,640 students, 12,462 alumni, and 853 employers. Using a 1-7 scale, where 7 means “Completely Agree” and 1 represents “Completely Disagree,” Bloomberg Businessweek queried respondents on their schools’ capabilities in fostering teamwork, incorporating ethics, and emphasizing corporate, social, and environmental responsibility.
And the results may be surprising in some corners, though it is important to note that the overall MBA ranking has been called into question (see Bloomberg Businessweek’s MBA Ranking Cannot Be Replicated By The Published Data & Methodology).
THERE’S NO HARVARD IN TEAM?
Let’s start with Teamwork, where the question was framed as, “My education emphasized teamwork and collaboration.” Here, the top score belongs to Arizona State’s W. P. Carey school, which notched a 6.95 score. The larger university is consistently ranked among the top schools for innovation and research and W. P. Carey follows in this tradition. However, it has also adopted a “Business is personal philosophy.” At W. P. Carey, each student is expected to help others learn. Call it a feedback culture, where the team concept extends far beyond student teams.
“We meticulously select students whose skills, background, and abilities complement each other and the program,” explains Rebecca Mallen-Churchill, director of graduate student recruitment at W. P. Carey, in a 2020 interview with P&Q. “The entire idea of feedback is instrumental to the success of an individual, a team, or an organization. This starts at a micro-level with 360-degree peer evaluations that incoming students complete to gain an understanding of their starting point. Throughout the program, they take part in development from their career coaches, Executive Mentors, faculty, and one another. On a macro level, our administration also relies heavily on the feedback of students with Dean Hillman hosting town halls to get feedback from the students on the curriculum, resources, and more.”
Not surprisingly, Michigan ranked 2nd for Teamwork with a 6.91. After all, Ross provides an array of hands-on, team-based programming, including MAP (Multidisciplinary Action Projects) and the Living Business Leadership Experience (LBLE), with the latter being a course where student teams run divisions of actual companies. Rounding out the top 3 is Northwestern Kellogg, where MBAs estimate they participate in up to 200 team meetings before they graduate.
Among the 84 schools surveyed by Bloomberg Businessweek in 2021, Harvard Business School ranked dead-last for Teamwork. True, the program leans heavily on the case method, where individuals are required to speak up and defend their positions in class. Even there, MBAs work in teams before class to prepare. HBS’ 5.90 score also raises a red flag. Just one point separates the lowest average from the highest. More than that, 5.9 on a 7.0 scale represents a decent satisfaction rate, a B- average if you scored like a high school teacher. This score may call for a re-evaluation, but certainly not an overhaul. The same could be said for other top programs that rank in the bottom ten for Teamwork: NYU Stern (6.26), Yale SOM (6.39), and Chicago Booth (6.40) — all of whom earned several perfect 7 scores from respondents.
RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS SCORE HIGH IN ETHICS
With Ethics, there is a clear trend: the highest scores belonged to private, religious institutions. That starts with Brigham Young University’s Marriott School, which posted a near perfect 6.98 average. Family-friendly and faith-based, the program’s values and curriculum attracts students like 2016 grad Dale Tolley, a missionary and academic star who became a human resources director at Procter & Gamble.
“The BYU Marriott School is a unique environment where I can combine my passion for business with my strong priorities for my faith and family,” he told P&Q. “I am able to bring my whole self to school as my faith lends perspective to my ethics and the way I will always do business, which is with the utmost level of integrity.”
The question posed to respondents was phrased as, “My program emphasized adherence to ethical principles.” Here, just .08 of a point separated #2 Fordham Gabelli (6.77) from #9 Dartmouth Tuck and Boston University Questrom (both 6.69). The lowest score in the Ethics category came from William & Mary’s Mason School at 5.72. Among the M7, Chicago Booth and the Wharton School both ranked 77th with a 6.07 average — again, a score that equates to a high level of satisfaction. If anything, this close clustering of scores may represent different issues: vague question phrasing and the need to either expand or clarify the 1-7 score range on Bloomberg Businessweek’s part.
Next Page: Corporate, Social, and Environmental Responsibility