management by matrices

a fresh perspective on management.

Business Today's idiotic b-school rankings

Business Today's annual practical joke entitled 'India's best b-schools' is out. The preliminary evidence is as follows:

SIBM is India's number 4 business school

MBA wannabes prefer ICFAI to FMS Delhi

Welingkar Institute of Management is India's number 3 b-school under the parameter 'Functional Head'. Under the same head SIMSREE Mumbai and ABS Noida are amongst the country's top10

Recruiters voted Welingkar as India's number 5 b-school

'Young Executives' ranked SIMSREE and Welingkar at joint number 3. If this is any consolation, these two b-schools managed to beat IIMC.

Without going into the merits and demerits of the aforementioned schools (I'm sure they are reasonably good places), let us now examine the methodology adopted by Business Today and AC Neilson that enables reality to be twisted and turned in any manner deemed fit by the editors of the magazine. The BT ranking claims to be based on the winning brands model i.e. it asks 'consumers' about their preferences with regard to certain brands (in this case b-schools) on certain pre-defined attributes with pre-defined weightages. Hang on. Winning brands? Do prospective MBA students pick their b-schools based on brands as opposed to facts? If that were the case, these applicants would surely flunk the Marketing Research course when they join b-school.

Imagine you have applied for a job, and the interviewer calls up 30 of your friends to find out their 'perception' of your academic performance, intelligence etc instead of objectively measuring it by asking you what your marks were, and verifying supporting documents. Such an interview would be a waste of time to attend - after all the interviewer is not interested in that trivial thing called facts. He is more interested in the feelings that your friends have about you! Your friend Mr.A might 'perceive' you as being a poor student, but 'facts' may indicate that you actually scored 95% in your boards. This is precisely the model that BT has used to rank business schools. They asked random respondents about what they 'felt' about the b-schools in question, and completely disregarded facts - facts such as average salaries, faculty count, published papers produced by the b-schools, infrastructure, exchange programs, international placements etc. Facts that are easily measurable if you get out of your Mumbai office and conduct a survey by actually talking to b-schools as opposed to conducting an inane perception survey with whoever you found at the water cooler. George Bush would love to commission a survey by BT-AC Nielson on the Iraq war - because like him, the BT-AC Nielson guys too hate facts - the prefer feelings.

I could go on and on, but some reputed bloggers have already trashed this survey in some detail. Do check them out.

Rashmi Bansal: This year, last year

Prof. Madhukar Shukla on last year's rankings:
http://alternativeperspective.blogspot.com/2006/07/b-school-ranking-survey-gets-f-grade.html

Outlook has chosen a fact based approach to rank b-schools. They seem to have done a good enough job for both Rediff and Mint to syndicate their content. Here is the link.

2 comments:

  1. gravatar

    I think if the sample is well-represented, then even by BT's 'touchy-feely' methods, the rankings don't hold water. You can just walk across to the last batch of MTs and ask them the questions. My feel is that the ranks will be closer to the Outlook one than the BT one.

    The Living Media group's model of ranking educational institutions (their College rankings is a case in point) is to create 'buzz' or discussion points. Every year, they have at least a few 'red herrings' which inspire heated debates like this one!
    I think we should desist discussing about it and not give them the coverage they want and don't deserve!

    8:32 PM
  2. gravatar

    Those are my thoughts too, but I thought there must be enough critiques of the methodology out there in the blogosphere for MBA aspirants to read before they sign up for a Welingkar over IIMC :)

    I have a strong suspicion that BT's methodology is deliberately designed to be so ambiguous. A methodology like this can throw up any b-school at any rank, and that means you could possibly sell rankings. This would be a good sting for the Tehelka guys to take up. :)

    9:00 PM