2014 Businessweek Ranking Deemed Legitimate, Definitive

On November 11 Bloomberg Businessweek unveiled its best guess of the current hierarchy of graduate schools of business. This year the magazine had a new team in charge of the biennial ranking, and the methodology was revised to better reflect the schools’ standings as measured by student surveys, alumni surveys, and faculty verbosity.

Student Surveys (45% weight)

This year, Businessweek surveyed a whole bunch of graduating full-time MBAs from 138 schools, and almost half of them took the ranking seriously enough to respond. 10,605 respondents rated their schools on numerous dimensions using a five-point scale (from best to worst: the bee’s knees, peachy keen, 620 GMAT, better than a kick in the head, Nickelback). Results indicated that all schools were approximately equally good—nearly the bee’s knees on every dimension—rendering this portion of the data meaningless. Accordingly, in this year’s ranking, Businessweek increased the weight of current-year student survey responses to 75% from the previous 50%. (In past rankings, current-year student survey results were 50%, with each of the previous two surveys receiving weights of 25%.)

Alumni Surveys (45% weight)

In an adorable attempt to appear rigorous, Businessweek opted to increase the sample size of the recruiter survey. This year, every recruiter who thought about hiring someone was invited to weigh in on which school was best, garnering an impressive 16% response rate, nearly half that of the 2012 ranking. The 614 recruiters who responded rated a median of 3 business schools—a testament to their extensive knowledge of the market for MBAs. Interestingly, Businessweek statisticians noted a peculiar phenomenon by which alumni rated their own alma mater higher than other schools. Therefore, Businessweek chose to exclude alumni ratings from schools’ “quality” scores (average rating) while including alumni ratings in schools’ “reach” scores (number of good ratings).

Intellectual Capital (10% weight)

For the intellectual capital component of the ranking, Businessweek editors asked their smartest friends for the names of 20 respectable publications and tallied the total articles authored by faculty of each school. A completely logical scoring system based on article length instead of impact Eigenfactor or inbound citations was used:

Results 

The top spot in this year’s ranking was claimed by Duke University’s oft-mispronounced Fuqua School of Business. Other remarkable results include Yale’s 15-spot ascent (to #6 from #21 in the previous ranking) and UC San Diego’s intellectual capital ranking 24 spots higher than that of Stanford—and this after UCSD didn’t make the ranking at all in 2012. Also, Booth claimed the #3 spot this time around.

The current draft of Businessweek's 2014 rankings is under public review, with any clerical mistakes expected to be swept under the rug prior to the 2016 ranking. (Mistakes of logic will remain intact.) In 2012, another year in which Businessweek changed its methodology—albeit without initially telling anyone—the magazine got the arithmetic right on just the second try, after it had received numerous sideways looks. (A minor error affected the Intellectual Capital scores of 50 of the 63 ranked schools.)