Ten Biggest Surprises In Bloomberg Businessweek’s 2022 MBA Ranking

IMD Business School in Switzerland has the second best MBA program in the world behind Stanford, according to Bloomberg Businessweek

5) IMD Better Than Harvard, Wharton, Kellogg, MIT, Chicago & Columbia


If you were to combine the separate rankings published by Businessweek for U.S. and European business schools, you would get a rather startling result. IMD, the school in Lausanne, Switzerland, would outrank every U.S. and European school with only one exception: Stanford.

Yes, you read that correctly. There is no doubt that IMD is a true treasure in the field of graduate management education. Its one-year, intensive and intimate MBA program is among the jewels of the business school world. But let’s face it: precious few people would put it above Harvard or Wharton, MIT or Columbia, Kellogg or Booth.

Yet, if you take Businessweek‘s overall index scores, IMD is right behind Stanford, a mere two points below on the magazine’s scoreboard, 86 to 88. While there are no shortages of reasons to discount this ranking, this finding alone has to raise eyebrows.

Curious about that outcome, we crunched the numbers to show how Businessweek would rank MBA programs on a global basis. The upshot: Eight of the Top 25 MBA programs would be in Europe. Here are the results:

ideas, startups, entrepreneurs

6) An Imperfect Way To Measure Entrepreneurship

When MBAs imagine the best programs for entrepreneurship, Harvard, Stanford, and Babson come to mind. For readers of Poets&Quants, you can tack on Washington University and IE Business School. At the top end, Bloomberg Businessweek and P&Q find plenty of common ground. After that? Well, let’s just say the ranking gets a bit unpredictable. 

Why? In many ways, the discrepancies can be traced to the methodology. P&Q is a mix of data and survey results. It gives a 15% weight to both the percentage of courses focused on entrepreneurship and innovation and the percentage of MBA students launching startups within three years of graduation. Four categories each snag a 10% weight: including the percentage of students in entrepreneurship clubs, the ratio of students-to-entrepreneurs-in-residence, startup award money available, and square footage of incubator and accelerator space (with the latter two being ratios based on class size).  The remaining 30% is devoted to items like the percentage of students entering venture capital or private capital, mentorship hours per student, and faculty involvement in startups.

Compare that to BW’s approach, which is exclusively survey-based (and represents 17.4% of the ranking weight):

“Students and alumni tell us whether their school took entrepreneurship as seriously as other career paths and rate the quality of training they received to start a small business or startup. Recruiters rate schools according to whether graduates show exceptional entrepreneurial skills and drive.”

In other words, BW is all opinion, be it students, alumni, or recruiters. Still, there is some congruence with P&Q’s ranking. Stanford GSB ranked 1st with BW and 8th with P&Q – a gap explained by the GSB declining to submit all required data to P&Q (though what was available was good enough for it to break into the Top 10). Babson University’s Olin Graduate School ranked 2nd with both BW and P&Q. At the same time, Washington University’s Olin School – which has enjoyed a 3-year run at #1 with P&Q – finished 3rd with BW. There was just a one-spot difference in Harvard Business School’s rank between BW and P&Q. Even UC San Diego’s Rady School, which ranked 4th with BW, placed a respectable 15th with P&Q (and nearly made our top 10 the year before). 

Still, you’ll find major discrepancies abound. The College of William & Mary – they’re back – ranked 7th with BW after ranking 38th with P&Q. The University of Mississippi earned its highest ranking with BW (12th) in Entrepreneurship, despite not appearing in P&Q’s ranking. Somehow, Rice University, which sponsors the world’s largest business plan competition, ranks just 49th with BW (after vaulting to 3rd with P&Q). ESADE and IE Business School, which placed 4th and 5th respectively with P&Q, finished 10th and 11th – in Europe. When it comes to the University of Michigan’s Ross School, the difference between the P&Q and BW rank is 35 spots (7th vs. 42nd). Even more glaring: Rutgers University – a Top 10 Entrepreneurship program according to P&Q – ranks 79th in BW’s eyes. 

Again, the issue is transparency. Wondering how your favorite MBA programs performed in P&Q’s ranking? Just go to our annual data dump. Here, you can see Michigan Ross ranked 2nd for the percentage of students launching startups and participating in entrepreneurship clubs. More ESADE grads joined startups over the past 4 years than any other school – and their students took more startup electives too. At the same time, Rutgers boasted the best ratio of incubator-space-to-students and students-to-entrepreneurs-in-residences. In other words, P&Q shows exactly where specific business schools excel rather than just simply reeling off a ranking. That provides greater clarity and value – and it’s a lesson that BW should take to heart if it wants its MBA ranking to remain relevant.

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