Global List Of B-Schools Making Positive Impact Grows By 26 This Year

We all want to feel we are making the world a better place. Business school students are no different — and more and more are convinced that their schools are part of the solution.

In the biggest increase in the four years of its existence, the annual Positive Impact Rating list of global schools making positive change grew this year to 71 schools, up from 45 last year and 46 in 2021. The rating, which is based on student survey responses, launched in 2020. The new list was announced at the United Nations Principles for Responsible Management Education Global Forum on June 12.

The PIR categorizes schools according to whether they are “Pioneering” (Level 5), “Transforming” (Level 4), or “Progressing” (Level 3). It is created with a survey in which students worldwide assess their B-schools on how they perceive their positive impact on the world.


Thomas Dyllick: “The voice of the student has become a true source of value”

The PIR is very much a rating conducted by students and for students, and it is focused more on smaller schools that generally escape media attention. More than 12,000 students from 71 business schools located across five continents and 25 countries participated in this year’s survey — a 58% increase in 2023 compared with 2022. But it’s not only the number of schools that increased in this year’s PIR: On a scale from 1-10, the overall PIR score was 7.7 in 2023, up from 7.6 in 2022 and 7.3 in 2021.

The PIR survey asks students 20 questions in seven “impact dimensions”: governance and culture of the school; study programs, learning methods, and student support; the institution as a role model, and its public engagement. The resulting PIR score of the B-school is used to position it across five levels, which refer to the levels of achievement in developing the school’s societal impact. B-schools are provided with a defined social impact model and a tool that they can use for measuring and benchmarking their impact. The official PIR list is comprised only of schools that achieve Levels 5, 4, and 3; 69 of the 71 schools met the required survey participation level to be included in the 2023 report (see page 2 for a complete list).

Notably, B-schools from developing economies performed better than their peers in developed economies, a trend that has been noted from past lists. Of the seven schools at the highest level 5 of “Pioneering” schools, six come from Asia and one from South America. One school comes from Hong Kong, China — HKUST Business School — and one from Peru: CENTRUM PUCP. The two latter schools have accomplished a jump from Level 4 to Level 5.

“Having worked with many business schools in emerging economies, I’m not surprised to see them do well in the PIR,” says Dan LeClair, CEO of the Global Business School Network and member of the PIR Advisory Board. “Indeed, I’m excited by the transformations happening across participating schools and commend the PIR for recognizing and sharing their efforts.”


France earned the distinction of having the most schools on the list of any one country, with nine, while the United States had seven, Canada had six, the UK 5, and Spain 4. Besides its five schools in the top level, India had two others on the list for a total of seven. The continent of Africa had three schools on the list, two in South Africa and one in Kenya; all but three of the “Progressing” countries, that is countries in Level 3, are in Europe.

Very few of the schools from any country or at any of the three levels will be found in the upper echelons of the major rankings. None of the U.S. schools are top-50 schools, and the highest-ranked schools from other parts of the world are hardly household names: ESADE of Spain, Imperial College of the UK, HKUST in Hong Kong, and IIM Bangalore in India are the best-known.

The latter is one of four Indian schools that remained Level 5 from 2022, a year in which there were only four such schools. The others are S. P. Jain Institute of Management & Research, Woxsen University School of Business, and XLRI Xavier School of Management.

“It is encouraging to see IIMB topping the PIR rankings, year-on-year,” says IIMB Director Professor Rishikesha T Krishnan. “I am particularly delighted to see Indian schools achieving top levels in the PIR, globally.”


What’s the value of the Positive Impact Rating? Besides providing a list of schools and the benchmarks they have reached, the PIR “serves as a tool for continuous social impact measurement and improvement,” according to the PRME news release accompanying the announcement of the 2023 list. It enumerates the PIR’s useful features: It offers all participating schools personalized dashboards featuring the survey results, as well as a comparison with the average score of all schools participating and a review of all seven impact dimensions. The PIR data “represent a solid basis for school management and engaged student organizations alike to define actions and strategies to increase the positive impact of their schools,” the release states.

Most importantly, it adds, “the positive impact of business schools is measured by quantifying the student voice.” Among students’ most common suggestions of what schools should stop doing: stop waste on campus; stop downplaying diversity and fairness; stop “greenwashing” and stop unethical partnerships with business, whether in programming, investments, or company visits. Among the things schools should do more: integrate sustainability broadly into the curriculum, integrate stakeholders from business and society into the learning process, and ensure that faculty is open-minded and committed to the topic.

“The PIR is the only ranking/rating with a ‘dual value proposition,'” says Julia Christensen Hughes, president of Yorkville University in Canada and member of the PIR Advisory Board. “Business schools can use it also as a tool for measuring and developing its societal impact.”

“It is great to see how students actively take part in transforming their business schools,” adds Carolin Lemke, vice president of Oikos International and PIR Supervisory Board member. “They are key stakeholders of our future, and their voice is of crucial importance for curriculum change.”

“One of the most promising insights from the PIR is that schools from the developing economies are performing significantly better than the schools from developed economies,” says Urs Jäger, professor at INCAE Business School in Costa Rica and executive director of Viva Idea. “It is promising, as this result might strengthen the discussion on Business Schools in the Global South and their contribution to Sustainable Development.”

“While future students now have an alternative source to select their business school, schools refer to the PIR primarily to measure and communicate their transformational progress,” says Thomas Dyllick, director of the Institute for Business Sustainability in Switzerland and PIR founder. “The voice of the student has become a true source of value.”

Learn more about the 2023 Positive Impact Rating here. See the next page for the complete 71-school rating.

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