A Defunct MBA Ranking

The Economist, facing much criticism over its methodology, will cease publishing an annual MBA ranking.

The Economist, bowing to criticism, has decided to scrap its annual MBA ranking. That’s right. Its MBA ranking will be no more. The list, which was particularly volatile these past couple of years with certain programs ranked much higher or lower than they should be (the Stanford Graduate School of Business, largely considered our nation’s top b-school — with Harvard Business School its chief competitor for this crown, ranked eighth in The Economist‘s 2022 ranking) faced significant criticism. The criticism, as it turns out, did not go unheard as the publication has ceased sending out surveys to collect data for next year’s ranking.

As Marc Ethier reports for Poets & Quants in a piece entitled “Amid Withering Criticism, The Economist Kills Its MBA Ranking,” “The Economist’s 2022 ranking was an unmitigated disaster. Among the deeply puzzling outcomes: Stanford Graduate School of Business landed eighth, and Chicago Booth School of Business — a former No. 1 in the magazine’s 2018 and 2019 lists — landed ninth, its lowest rank ever. Washington University’s Olin Business School in St. Louis, which declined to participate last year but finished 41st in 2019, climbed to its highest rank ever: 19th, ahead of UCLA Anderson (20), Cornell Johnson (23), and the University of Texas McCombs School of Business (24). All told, nine MBA programs fell by 30 or more places, while an incredible 29 dropped 20 or more spots — an unheard-of level of volatility, even in a ranking known for volatile results. The volatility made clear the need to assess a school’s rank against The Economist’s list from 2019, the last year before the coronavirus pandemic, when most B-schools participated in the British magazine’s ranking. The Economist canceled its 2020 ranking, and many schools — including all of the M7 schools —  boycotted the 2021 list, leading to a befuddling assortment of placements.”

And so The Economist‘s business school ranking will be no more. But don’t expect other publications to soon drop their undergraduate and graduate program rankings. You see, most publications don’t publish such volatile rankings. Take the publication that is largely considered to be the kingpin of such rankings: US News & World Report. While universities might move up or down slightly over the years (remember when the California Institute of Technology occupied the top slot?), there simply aren’t such dramatic swings. If a school slips in a given year, it’s typically by one or a few slots — it’s not by double digit slots. The volatility of The Economist‘s ranking undermined the faith applicants to top MBA programs had in the publication’s authority — and it would soon be its undoing.

 
 

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