Recent Study Examines Accuracy of BusinessWeek MBA Rankings

Posted by: Francesca Di Meglio on October 22, 2008

A recent study of the BusinessWeek full-time MBA rankings shows that business school placement on the bi-annual list remains fairly stable from ranking to ranking. Frederick P. Morgeson, professor of management and the Valade Research Scholar at the Eli Broad Graduate School of Business at Michigan State University initiated the research and proposes creating a rating system to replace the rankings, so that schools that consistently ranked in the same or similar place are considered equal or of the same caliber.

Along with doctoral candidate Jennifer Nahrgang, Morgeson studied the level of ranking stability across time and examined what predicts the placement of programs. “Our data shows that BusinessWeek rankings are suspiciously invariant across time, have a large reputational component, and appear to be based on student ratings that largely reflect economic outcomes that are unrelated to educational experiences or quality,” Morgeson says, according to a press release appearing on Newswise Business News. “We chose to focus on BusinessWeek because it was the first ranking system of business schools published in the popular press and is by far the most influential ranking list according to numerous scholars.”

In the study, which was published in the Academy of Management Learning and Education, Morgeson and Nahrgang report that an average of 1.63 schools drop off the list in a given rankings year and that the rankings contain 84 to 97 percent of the same schools all the time. In fact, according to the study, only 35 schools have ever been ranked since the first list in 1988.

BusinessWeek's methodology and frequently asked questions about the rankings are available on the Web site.

What do you think? Should the rankings be replaced by ratings? Is Morgeson right about the rankings? Let us know by leaving your comments below.

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