9) Do The Economist’s Alumni Surveys Really Matter?
Culture and Classmates
Each year, The Economist surveys alumni on these six measures, using a 1-5 scale where 5 represents the high mark. They aren’t alone. The Financial Times queries alumni about career services and overall satisfaction with a program. At the same time, Bloomberg Businessweek poses a series of questions regarding learning and networking that are lumped together in one score. However, neither offer the depth and transparency of The Economist.
Question is, just how valuable is the data?
To borrow a favorite MBA phrase: “That depends.”
You see, a 1-5 scale cuts both ways. By nature, it is clear and simple. In a survey respondent’s mind, a 1 translates to lousy, a 3 means mediocre, and a 5 epitomizes excellence. Use a 10-point scale, like The Financial Times does for overall satisfaction, and you’re really sure alumni carry the same definition of a 6 or an 8, for example. On the negative side, a 1-5 scale doesn’t leave much room for schools to separate themselves from each other. Hence, you will find many schools clustered together.
Take alumni averages on Career Services. The University of Florida’s Warrington School ranked #1 with a near-perfect 4.9 school. That was head-and-shoulders above also-rans like #3 UCLA (4.31) and #6 Indiana (4.16). From there, it gets a little dicey. For example, MIT Sloan finished a 3.96 score, good for 48th. However, Washington Olin finished 75th with a 3.79. In other words, just .17 of a point separated 27 places.
Alumni Effectiveness reflects a similar differentiation. On top, the scores show separation, as #1 Dartmouth Tuck (4.84) beats out #5 USC Marshall (4.64) and #9 Harvard Business School (4.59). Similarly, #20 Virginia Darden (4.49) and #33 Yale SOM (4.39) are broken by .10 of a point. However, there is a .23 of a point difference between #33 Yale SOM and #37 Minnesota Carlson, which expands to a .25 gap when Minnesota is compared against #46 SDA Bocconi (3.91).
In other words, rank is helpful, but the actual score is the real differentiator. Even among the Top 50, less than a point generally separates the top program from the 50th-ranked program. Then again, as the saying goes, it is the final 5% that separates the greats from the also-rans. For MBAs, that translates to knowing what’s truly important to them – and where alumni say reputation meets results. That’s exactly what the actual score shows.
10) More Big Winners Than Losers
In most MBA rankings, the number of schools that suffer defeats is nearly equal to those that score big gains. But not this year and not in The Economist. Despite all of the well-documented turmoil in the ranking, MBA programs that rose by double-digits this year over 2019 (when the ranking was more normal) were more than double those that declined by double-digits. The reason: A good number of schools simply disappeared from the list, pushed off by the return of so many prestige programs.
The MBA programs at two schools really stood out, each rising two dozen places: The University of Hong Kong and Michigan State University. Hong Kong rose to 43rd from 67th; Michigan soared to48 from 72. Also worth noting is the 14-place rise by MIT’s Sloan School of Management which now ranks fifth, much better than 19th.
DON'T MISS: ANOTHER MIND-BOGGLING MBA RANKING: THE ECONOMIST'S 2022 LIST or POETS&QUANTS 2021-2022 MBA RANKING: IT'S STANFORD AGAIN AT THE TOP! or INSEAD DOES IT AGAIN: TOPS RANKING OF BEST INTERNATIONAL MBAs FOR SIXTH CONSECUTIVE TIME
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