After The Economist announced that it would no longer do business school rankings, Forbes magazine will not rank full-time MBA programs this year, Poets&Quants has learned.
The Forbes biennial ranking already would have been a year late and if the magazine adhered to its typical publication schedule should have appeared in the fall of 2021. The Forbes list, which ranks MBA programs on the basis of return on investment, is one of the five most influential MBA rankings, with the Financial Times, U.S. News & World Report, Bloomberg Businessweek, and The Economist.
Yet, the last time Forbes ranked full-time MBA programs in the U.S. and internationally was three years ago in 2019. In that year, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business rose six spots to a No. 1 finish for the first time since Forbes began ranking MBA programs back in 1999. To capture the top spot, Booth zoomed past No. 2 Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, No. 3 Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, No. 4 Harvard Business School, and No. 5 Wharton (see table below for the top 20 schools in the U.S.)
Forbes also does two international MBA rankings for both one-year and for two-year programs. Three years ago, IMD in Switzerland placed first for one-year options, while London Business School topped the two-year list.
THE LOSS OF A FORBES SENIOR EDITOR ADDED AN EXTRA CHALLENGE TO GETTING THE RANKING DONE
The publication of an updated Forbes ranking was complicated by a change in the editorial oversight of the list. For many years, Kurt Badenhausen, then a Forbes‘ senior editor and guru of its business school rankings. Badenhausen left the magazine in March of 2021 to join Sportico as a sports valuations reporter. His departure caused the loss of the magazine’s institutional knowledge in gathering and analyzing the data necessary to crank out the MBA ranking.
Unlike The Economist, which has completely walked from B-school rankings, Forbes intends to return to the field, according to an insider.
The decision not to publish a ranking occurs at a time when business school rankings have been under greater scrutiny than ever before. The most recent Bloomberg Businessweek ranking, for example, came under attack, along with the latest Economist list. Anjani Jain, deputy dean overseeing academic programs at Yale University’ School of Management, conducted an in-depth analysis of the methodology and data in the magazine’s 2021 list and found that applying the stated weights to the five metrics used by the magazine would lead to results “egregiously off-kilter when compared to the published ranking.” He calculated that the only way to replicate the ranks published by Businessweek is to apply a very different set of weights to the five metrics used to rank programs.
‘B-SCHOOL RANKINGS ARE GOING THROUGH INCREASED CRITICISM FROM ALL FLANKS’
Jain’s recalculation would change the positions of 23 of the top 25 B-schools. The academic found that applying the stated weights to scores published by Businessweek would cause MIT’s Sloan School of Management to fall uncharacteristically to a rank of 21 from 7th; the Jindal School of Management at the University of Texas in Dallas to oddly skyrocket into the top 10, placing ninth, a rise of 22 places, and Emory University’s Goizueta Business School to achieve its highest rank ever in 10th place, eight spots better than the published ranking of 18th.
But without providing any explanation, Bloomberg Businessweek last October rejected challenges to the credibility of its 2021 MBA ranking. The magazine’s editors said they are standing by the ranking and the methodology that produced it — and they called on P&Q and others to correct or retract criticism of the list.
“B-school rankings are going through increased criticism from all flanks, more than ever before, and do not enjoy the credibility they once had,” notes a top European business school dean. “The current Financial Times ranking is not exempt: its ranked categories do not fit the spirit of our times -our graduates commitment to entrepreneurship, sustainability, or the social impact of business, just to name a few.”