Neil Tambe

I'm a Detroiter who happens to enjoy writing, national parks, orange juice, the performing arts, and fanciful socks. More than anything though, I aspire to be a good husband, father, and citizen.

Reimagining Business School Rankings

From what I can tell, rankings are hugely important to the staff and administration of business schools. Rankings, after all, are what prospective students often use to judge the quality of a business school and the value of the $100k+ they spend to complete their graduate education. The one part of business school rankings that aren't really talked about - which I'd argue is the most important - is the methodology of the rankings. Looking at the methodologies is important because different people value different things about business school, so the ranking is only valuable if you value the same things as the people who created the rankings. It's funny that there's little discourse about the formulas for the rankings, no? In fact, I suspect that people talk considerably more about the College Football Bowl Championship Series methodology than they do about the methodology of business school rankings.

After looking into the rankings' methodologies, here are some of the criteria I found. Each ranking uses different combinations of criteria, of course:

  • Salary of the graduate's job 3-5 years after graduation
  • What recruiters think about the school
  • What other business school faculty think about the school
  • What students think about the school
  • Rates of faculty publishing in major journals
  • Rates of graduates being placed into jobs after they graduate
  • GMAT / GRE / GPAs of incoming students
  • Diversity of the class
  • Quality of alumni network

For more details, here are the links to the methodologies of various rankings: The Economist, US News, Financial Times, Forbes, Businessweek

What I propose is that there are other metrics that matter, that could better demonstrate the quality of the school and give a flavor of the priorities of that school's administration. Here are some measures I'd be curious about...ones that I'd consider measuring if I were making the ranking:

  • Percentage of students who go to jail (this is what sparked the idea for this blog post, I was talking with two classmates about this)
  • Percentage of students who become c-level executives
  • Number of VC dollars raised per student, number of startups launched per student
  • Number of students who are single at some point during their studies who end up marrying classmates or alums
  • Percentage of graduates who feel happy / fulfilled in their work 5 and 10 years after graduation
  • Percentage of graduates who enter non-profit or public service careers for a period of time within 5 years of graduation
  • Effectiveness of graduates as rated by their peers and/or subordinates at work

To assess whether a business school is doing a good job preparing its graduates for business careers, we ought to have a broader set of measures. I wonder what the rankings would looked like if we prioritized holistic measures in addition to or in lieu of what the rankings currently measure.