Das MBA-Studium: Ranking the Rankers

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by Tim Dickson

Ranking, Bewertung, Übersicht, Einschätzung, Tabelle
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The most nerve wracking moment

Ask any business school dean to describe the most nerve wracking moment of the academic year and a candid answer might be: 'Just before I know our place in the B-School rankings'. League tables are big business for newspapers and magazines such as Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, US News and World Report and The Financial Times - and they're about to get bigger. Publications are currently turning the spotlight on universities which run executive education courses and 'executive' and other part-time MBAs, as well as continuing their scrutiny of full time MBA programmes, with the result that a rash of new headline-grabbing surveys can be expected in the coming months. The trepidation of deans can only get worse.

Those who prepare and sanction these tables defend them as a legitimate exercise in accountability - a market response to the bewildering choice of courses and the need for unbiased information on quality and performance. Most business schools, on the other hand, take a different view. While not denying the commercial logic of attempts to create a 'buyer's guide' many privately see rankings as a curse - a time consuming and wasteful lottery administered by self-appointed regulators using questionable methods inherently disadvantageous to particular regions of the world (most notably Europe).

The question for students, recruiters and anyone else who has the interests of the business education sector at heart is: who's right? This article (based on discussions with several experts and my own analysis) turns the tables on the league tables and - with special reference to three of the most influential MBA exercises, namely those carried out by Business Week, The FT, and The Wall Street Journal - seeks to challenge the foundations of the rankings game.

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