Stuffing Ballots at LBS?

Posted by: Francesca Di Meglio on April 30, 2009

The ethics of business school students and MBAs in general has been making headlines lately – from the Duke and GMAT cheating scandals to the role business schools and their curriculum and culture might have played in contributing to the current economic crisis. Now, a new story out of London Business School again raises the question, “Does the culture at business school breed a win-at-all-costs mentality?” Although the incident in question seems minor compared to the recent cheating scandals, it might say something about how the day-to-day happenings on campus influence the culture.

Reportedly, the LBS Private Equity Club is holding new elections for its officers because votes were cast on behalf of students who had not voted. One reader anonymously tipped off BusinessWeek by sending an e-mail suggesting that this was a case of stuffing ballots. The e-mail appears to be the text of a blog post that was subsequently removed. E-mails to this anonymous reader bounced back. Still, participants in the BusinessWeek B-Schools Forum have discussed the issue in a thread.

E-mails sent to the co-presidents of the Private Equity Club and officers of the Student Association went unanswered. But a spokesperson for LBS confirms that there were voting irregularities involving an MBA student club election, but did not identify the private equity club as the organization in question. The spokesperson writes in an e-mail that there is no evidence of wrongdoing and that the school is taking the necessary steps to rectify the situation.

"As soon as the situation became clear, London Business School’s Student Association, which represents the interests and concerns of students within the wider school community, responded immediately with a full investigation," writes the spokesperson. "The findings of that investigation concluded that there was no evidence of wrongdoing by any of the candidates but that the voting system used by the club in question had been compromised. In the spirit of fairness, the decision was taken to rerun the election under the impartiality of the Student Association. There are no accusations of wrongdoing toward any party involved in the election. Steps are being taken to roll out this new voting system school-wide across all club elections, and we’re confident that this regrettable situation will not happen again in the future."

What do you think? Is LBS doing the right thing? Was this just a technical glitch or just another example of the cutthroat business school culture gone horribly awry?

Reader Comments

LBS_Student

May 1, 2009 3:32 AM

Ballot stuffing was done intentionally and every one at LBS knows this. The school did not only try to hide this from the students but also took agressive actions (like removing blogs from LBS blogs page) to cover up this story. Now their strategy is to show this thing as a technical glitch. Fellow LBS students, take responsibility and do your part of ethics, and ensure that LBS takes the correct action. If you dont do anything today, what would you do in 10 years as a CEO a an international company?

Matt

May 1, 2009 4:41 AM

London Business School = CHEAT.

I was there for a semester long exchange from Columbia (where cheating is present but not as rampant). I'm left wishing I never went to b-school
:-(

From speaking with friends at several different schools I've come to the conclusion that there are VERY FEW SCHOOLS that are honest. Wish I went to one of them.

Ninad Shinde

May 1, 2009 5:00 AM

I am a current London Business Student, with no stake in the internal functioning of the PE club (i.e. I'm not an officer or candidate). Initially election results and announcements regarding the election were clouded in opaqueness while the school was investigating the issue. After a thorough investigation involving the Dean's office, it was determined that the system used to submit votes was prone to hanging chads. The LBS community was fully updated after the fact and it fully supports a re-election. The context is hard to explain to the general public without causing needless speculation and jumping to conclusions. Although a proper application of statistics would conclude that these speculatory conclusions are atypical one-off issues.

Additionally, the blogger who blogged about this (Ruminator) is in all of my classes, and is widely known for his sensationalist illogical half-baked ideas, demonstrated by the inane comments that he subjects the entire class to in order to make his class participation grade. Its like tin-foil jamming a radar. Most of my classmates and the professors choose to gloss over his verbal diarrhea. I fear that Businessweek is staking its credibility by listening to such tripe.

Rockstar

May 2, 2009 5:00 AM

Interesting comment Ninad,

Are you just bitter because he writes better than you? Don't they teach you at LBS that whistleblowers should be protected within an organization?

Shooting the messenger is a little strange here. A few people from LBS seem to have confirmed that there were irregularities and there seems to be at least some truth to the blog - flowery language aside.

It would be a better reflection on LBS and the students to roundly condemn the students who fiddled the election, have them face disciplinary action and ensure it never happens again.

alfie

May 2, 2009 12:13 PM

I think the lesson from this is that cover-ups don't work. The lack of an official response seems to suggest that some cheating did occur. Bschools make pretty ineffective PR machines from the looks of it. Something was clearly manipulated and it was certainly not 'technical failure' - Moral failure perhaps.

Secondly, I'm a little insulted by the suggestion that we the 'general public' would fail to understand this. What? Are non-MBAs too stupid to understand cheating?? Your statement is patronizing and arrogant - a little like the schools response.

Josh

May 3, 2009 5:53 PM

After reading about this unethical behavior and the apparent cover-up I have decided to cancel my LBS application in spite of 750+ GMAT score, ivy university with top GPA and unique work experience. I am now shooting for IMD and INSEAD in Europe.

Noonetoblamebutmyself

May 4, 2009 2:50 PM

I'm a 2009 who will confirm that this incident occurred. It was not a technical glitch, it was attempted fraud. Thankfully the follow up election went without any similar incident.

On a broader perspective though, it is a shameful incident and the school/club actions to hide what happened are an indictment of what is a school living on borrowed time and on the finance boom that saw London prosper.

For me, this is the icing on the cake and I will be glad to graduate, leaving behind some overrated faculty, mediocre students and shabby administration. No wonder the endowment is paltry.

LBS aspirant

May 4, 2009 3:07 PM

I dont really understand why LBS is not willing to talk about this, unless they are hiding something...

xchanger08

May 5, 2009 7:35 AM

The silence doesn't really surprise me. I went on exchange a couple of years back and the Program Office were poor then when it comes to internal and external communications. Add to that, their treatment of students is quite offhand for most of the time they are at LBS - up until just before it's time to graduate and they want to ask for the class gift. A lot of the faculty is likewise. I would disagree with the previous comment slightly. The finance faculty is excellent and responsive but marketing and strategy are rude and unresponsive towards students.

It doesn't help that when any student makes a noise about these issues on official channels, they get shut down. Even well-meaning advice is ignored. Perhaps that's why we're discussing it here.

Not all the students are mediocre either. While the best of them would get into any school in the US, the vast majority would not.

Dog_snout

May 5, 2009 11:12 AM

Hey, London Business School: talk to us! And sack the students that were involved in the cheating. These people should have no place in any honest institution!

Experience MBA

May 6, 2009 10:48 AM

To LBS aspirant,
A high GMAT and good uni proves very little, if you believe that this will get you entry into a top B-School then you are unlikely to be accepted anywhere decent. This supports the view that you are ignoring a top school down to the stupid actions of a single student, very miopic indeed.

RAGINGBULL

May 15, 2009 1:01 PM

LBS is a mediocre school with mediocre students, who end up there cause they were not able to get admissions in any of the good US schools (Harvard/Wharton/Stan/Kellogg/Booth).

You can feel the vibe of mediocrity when you are on campus - they have just ridden on London's name/opportunities over the past few years to create a space for themselves - however the students they get are still rejects of the top schools.

In rankings too only FT acknowledges them, which is a publication based in London - they are missing from any of the other rankings.

Given the quality of students they get -this was expected.

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