20th anniversary edition







Full text


Making the right choice

of executive education

George Bickerstaffe

20th anniversary edition

The following is extracted from the 20th edition of

Which MBA?

The full version includes details on different

delivery methods, such as part-time, distance-learning

and executive MBAs. It also provides in-depth profi les of

120 major business schools, including a full breakdown of

schools’ rankings.

The book is available from the Economist bookshop at:


Have you got what it takes to be a world-class leader?

tel: +41 21 618 02 98 fax: +41 21 618 06 15 e-mail: mbainfo@imd.ch

IMD – International Institute for Management Development Chemin de Bellerive 23, PO Box 915, CH-1001 Lausanne, Switzerland

90 exceptional people experience the IMD MBAeach year.

Launch yourself into the challenge of this intensive, one-year leadership development program: a life-changing experience.

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•Bright, successful, on the fast track, wanting to make it to the top?

•A young, experienced international manager with a global

mindset and a burning ambition to lead?

•Ready to think outside the box and driven by the desire to make a difference?

If so, IMD is the place for you. Visit us at: www.imd.ch/mba


The Economist Intelligence Unit

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ISBN-13: 978-0-86218-209-0

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The authors of EIU Research Reports are drawn from a wide range of professional and academic disciplines. All the information in the reports is verified to the best of the authors’ and the publisher’s ability, but neither can accept responsibility for loss arising from decisions based on these reports. Where opinion is expressed, it is that of the authors, which does not necessarily coincide with the editorial views of the Economist Intelligence Unit Limited or of The Economist Newspaper Limited.

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 11 10 09 08 07



The MBA: riding out a storm 9

What you’ll learn—core and elective subjects 17

What you’ll learn—soft skills 23

Full-time rankings 28 The






Invest in an MBA at Cass, and you’ll be putting your money where the world’s business elite put theirs.

From our home in the City of London, we give our MBA students the best overview of the current thinking and practice of the world’s leading global businesses that make the City their home. It’s the most thrilling, total immersion ‘field trip’ designed to equip you for the real world. Whether you choose a 12 month full-time MBA or two year part-time Executive MBA, you will gain both the theory and practical skills to do business at the very highest level.

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Do your MBA where the

world does business



We would like to thank all the business schools that filled in our lengthy questionnaire and encouraged their students and graduates to complete the separate questionnaire designed for them. Thanks, too, to those schools that made available for interviews their faculty, administrators and students during our editorial visits or took the time to visit the Economist Intelligence Unit offices in London. Lastly, we are grateful to all the students and graduates who contributed valuable comments on schools and programmes.


We teach state-of-the-art theory, immerse stu-dents in international experiences, and connect them to best practice in business and policy.


Our students come from Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and international experi-ences are built into our programs in partner-ship with major foreign schools and companies.

EMPLOYMENT We have a strong record of placing our students in leading corporations and public sector institutions across the globe.

CONNECTED TO BUSINESS Many senior executives visit the School each semester through our CEO, Entrepreneurs, Corporate Responsibility and Real Estate forums.

BOSTON: A GREAT PLACE TO LIVE AND STUDY Brandeis is in Boston, home to eight major research universities and to 250,000 students.




“That’s where risk management becomes crucial” “Financially, they say the ‘nice decade’

is over” “This financial approach

worked when the markets were favourable” “But that approach led to exposure to risks no-one really understood”

The University of Edinbur

gh is a charitable body , re gister ed in Scotland, with r egistration number SC005336.

The University of Edinburgh Business School holds both EQUIS and Association of MBAs accreditation.

A typical conversation on the MBA at the University of Edinburgh Business School: people bouncing ideas off each other. Agreeing. Disagreeing. Expanding arguments. Innovating. It’s a never-ending network of stimulating discussion from students from all over the world. But it’s not the only network. Edinburgh is one of the major financial and commercial centres in the UK. Our network of business contacts provides you with a unique opportunity that puts you right at the heart of business. And when you talk about unique, think Edinburgh the city: named the ‘best place to live and work in the UK’ and the second most visited place outside London. Host of the largest arts festival in the world. With a strong career and personal development programme, the chance to develop the skills to communicate your ideas, an Edinburgh MBA is like no other. It provides an unrivalled network you can tap into – a network from where your career can really take off.


by visiting www.business-school.ed.ac.uk


9 Which MBA? © The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2008

Extracted from the 20th edition of Which MBA?

The MBA: riding out a storm

In the 20 years since Which MBA? was launched the MBA degree has seen many ups and downs, many booms followed by inevitable busts. Through it all the MBA has proved itself remarkably resilient, capable of adaptation and reinvention, matching its structure and the skills it teach-es to the demands of the time.

At the moment it is going through yet another turbulent period as the global credit crunch and rising oil prices have forced recruiters to scale back hiring plans. However, yet again this does not—as yet at any rate—seem to have dented enthusiasm for the MBA, among either potential students or recruiters of MBA graduates.

The number of GMAT tests being taken (always a good proxy of interest in taking an MBA since almost all business schools require it) in the first five months of 2008 rose by 11% compared with the same period in 2007.

The MBA job market

The job market for current MBA graduates also looks bright. In the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2008 survey of business schools for Which MBA?, careers offices helped place, on aver-age, 90% of their students in jobs within three months of graduation; and over half of the stu-dents we surveyed had received more than one firm job offer.

Despite rising tuition fees, the MBA still offers a more-than-reasonable return on investment. Graduates on full-time programmes can expect a basic salary increase of 83% compared with their pre-programme jobs. The average basic salary of a full-time graduate at the schools we surveyed was US$93,972—a rise of almost 10% compared with last year. In Europe, where stu-dents tend to have more work experience, the average salary broke the US$100,000 mark. Even in North America, which has seen a swathe of job cuts in the financial services sector—a key recruiter of MBAs—salaries were holding up well, with many schools reporting steady increases on last year.

Table 1.1

Average starting salaries of recent MBA graduates

Salary, US$ % increase on pre-MBA salary

World 93,972 83

Asia & Australasia 74,864 94

Europe 106,733 85


Extracted from the 20th edition of Which MBA? The MBA: riding out a storm

10 Which MBA? © The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2008

Table 1.2

Average starting salaries of recent graduates from selected schools

School Salary, US$ % increase on pre-MBA salary

Asia & Australasia

Macquarie 121,719 39

Otago 112,464 64

Melbourne 98,424 139

Monash 95,833 40

Curtin 95,167 28

Hong Kong UST 78,307 139

Queensland 71,983 79

Indian Institute (Ahmedabad) 59,879 n/a

Japan 59,443 179 Hong Kong SB 57,727 102 North America Harvard 115,000 111 Pennsylvania (Wharton) 110,550 62 MIT (Sloan) 107,990 58 Dartmouth (Tuck) 107,406 78 Columbia 107,265 55 Northwestern (Kellogg) 104,100 55 Chicago 103,219 49

California at Berkeley (Haas) 101,859 57

Virginia (Darden) 100,575 55

New York (Stern) 100,376 65

Europe Ashridge 209,000 246 Henley 156,000 21 Warwick 134,200 109 HEC Paris 132,940 105 IMD 130,000 64 Oxford (Saïd) 130,000 58 Audencia (Nantes) 127,500 41 City (Cass) 127,290 76 UC Dublin 123,288 48 Strathclyde 120,000 33

Note: Guaranteed base salaries of graduates. Increase compared with pre-MBA salary. Local currencies converted using average exchange rates for 2008: US$1 = A$1.2, €0.73, HK$7.80, £0.5, NZ$1.36, Rs41.35, S$1.51, ¥117.76.


11 Which MBA? © The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2008

Extracted from the 20th edition of Which MBA? The MBA: riding out a storm

Where the jobs are and where graduates want to go

Not that salary is the be-all and end-all for MBA graduates. They are typically more likely to consider things such as career or personal development than merely remuneration. They are also becoming more inclined to put a greater emphasis on issues such work–life balance or a company’s ethical background. One way that this can be seen to manifest itself is in the number of schools that are placing students in not-for-profit organisations—80% in our most recent survey. Impressive though this is, as Table 1.3 shows it is still well below the more trad-itional recruiters, such as consulting or finance.

Table 1.3

Industry sectors recruiting graduates from the most recent graduating full-time MBA class

Sector %

Consulting, professional services 98.3

Banking, finance 96.6

Technology, media, telecommunications 94.1

Industry, engineering, manufacturing 93.3

Consumer, retail 91.6

Pharmaceuticals, healthcare 87.4

Non-profit, public sector 79.8

Entertainment, publishing 63.0

Are recruiters happy hirers?

The relatively benign jobs outlook for MBA and other business graduates reflects widespread employer satisfaction with MBA recruits. Employers are said to especially value business school graduates for their management knowledge and communications skills as well as the technical and quantitative skills typical of MBA graduates.

Recruiters point to experience with earlier MBA hires to back up their sense that the MBA is a valuable credential worth paying for. A survey by the Graduate Management Admission Council found that the majority, 83%, said they were very or extremely satisfied with employees who have MBAs. Nearly all the employers said they strive to provide challenging and interesting assignments in an effort to retain the people they hire.


Extracted from the 20th edition of Which MBA? The MBA: riding out a storm

12 Which MBA? © The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2008

MBA: A brief history

Though often thought of as a “modern” phenomenon and frequently associated with the heady days of the 1980s boom and the dotcom crash of the late 1990s, the MBA is an old qualification. It first appeared in the US over 100 years ago, developing from the accounting and book-keeping courses introduced as the country lost its frontier image and began to industrialise. It was modelled on the standard American two-year postgraduate academic programme and most students enrolled straight after taking a first degree. This model won rapid acceptance and spread quickly.

However, half a century later, MBA programmes were being attacked for a lack of academic rigour and poor relevance to business issues. Two damning reports appeared in 1959, condemning American graduate management education as little more than vocational colleges filled with second-rate students taught by second-rate professors who did not understand their fields, did little research and were out of touch with business.

Business schools responded rapidly, raising both their admissions and teaching standards and establishing the now well-known American emphasis on academic research. The overall effect was the creation of the classic American MBA model: a first year of required “core” courses to provide a grounding in the basics of management, and a second year of electives to allow specialisation or deeper study.

At the same time, interest in management education was growing in Europe, especially in the UK, which was looking for an antidote to its economic and industrial decline. Business schools, intended as “centres of excellence” and modelled closely on American schools, particularly Harvard, were created within the universities of London and Manchester. The result was not greeted with enthusiasm. It has long been argued that the UK was wrong to copy a system that was then fairly new and was itself a response to particularly American problems. The insistence on an academic regime meant that business schools might ignore the contribution that business itself could make. This division of opinion between academic and industry-leaning business schools continues today. Not all institutions in Europe copied the American model. IMD, INSEAD, Henley and Ashridge were all started by groups of companies to provide management training. In France, the local and regional chambers of commerce played a big part in establishing and supporting business schools. The early 1990s saw a new wave of criticism of MBA programmes, this time focused on a supposed lack of relevance to modern business. The MBA was said to be too academic, too theoretical and divorced from real-life business practice. MBA graduates were criticised for adopting an analytical and quantitative approach to business issues when companies needed managers with more diffuse skills, such as leadership. Faculty were said to lack business experience and to be more interested in research than in providing business solutions.

If anything, this criticism has intensified during the early years of the 21st century. It has led schools, particularly in North America, to make further changes to the MBA programme design and curriculum, adding courses on so-called “soft skills” such as communications, leadership and interpersonal relations.

Other factors are also driving change. Recruitment of MBA graduates by management consultants and financial services has been in decline for some years and there has been a need to develop other job markets. The globalisation of business has made many of the MBA programmes in the US (where business schools were busy satisfying a huge domestic demand) look increasingly parochial. US schools also face increased competition from their European counterparts, which, because of the international nature of European society and the closeness of most schools to industry, are already meeting some of the criticisms.




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15 Which MBA? © The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2008

Extracted from the 20th edition of Which MBA?

What you will learn—core and elective subjects

MBA programmes generally break down into “hard” and “soft” skill sets. Chapter 3 looks at how soft skills (such as negotiation, communication and leadership) are taught. This chapter exam-ines the “harder” topics such as functional subjects and analytical tools.

The core

In most programmes hard topics are split into two groups: required courses, usually known as the core, that nearly all students must take; and elective, or optional, subjects that students can follow because they have a particular interest or career ambitions. The core is studied early in the programme and electives later.

However, these are changing times for the MBA, and the traditional core is under pressure. As outlined in more detail in Chapter 3, recruiters now assume that the hard subjects are well taught and their real interest is in students’ competence in the more hard-to-define soft skills, and that the real differentiator between schools is their ability to design and deliver these. As a result there are now almost as many soft skill subjects included in the core.

In contrast, hard subjects are coming to be seen almost as a “commodity”—fairly standardised and taught equally well in most business schools. However, while the core is far from a defini-tive list of hard subjects, there is a general consensus on what it should contain. It reflects the original aim of the MBA degree, which was to give students an overall understanding of the many functional areas of a business so they could become good general managers. Although they may have different names and some may be bundled together, the subjects are generally those described below.

Financial accounting

Financial accounting provides students with the technical skills needed to obtain economic and financial information about a company from publicly available sources such as annual accounts. Students learn how to process this information and act accordingly. Generally, the subject is taught from the perspective of users of the information, not its preparation by quali-fied accountants and auditors.

Managerial accounting

Managerial accounting covers the use of accounting data for management decision-making. This includes areas such as budgeting, product costing, performance evaluation and transfer pricing (the costs attributed to goods and services sold within a multinational organisation, particularly across borders). There is also usually a special emphasis on incentives such as executive bonuses and the tax implications of various actions.


Extracted from the 20th edition of Which MBA? What you will learn—core and elective subjects

16 Which MBA? © The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2008


Finance is the core of the core. The main aim is to teach the various financial tools that are available to monitor, control and project a firm’s performance. Areas covered include forecast-ing techniques based on financial statement and ratio analysis, debt levels, capital structures, discounted cash flow and the cost of capital.

Human resource management

HR (as it is universally known) covers the role of human resources policy as part of the strategic planning framework of a company. Specific topics include recruitment and selection, promo-tion, career development, performance-based evaluation and compensation policies.

Information management

Information and communications technology (ICT) plays a key role in many business functions. This course generally looks at the issues involved in managing ICT, particularly choosing the right technologies for particular applications and business needs.

Macroeconomics and microeconomics

Now often called managerial economics, this course deals with the interaction of a company and its economic environment. Topics covered include supply and demand theory, market envir-onments and the structure of markets.


This course covers the basic principles of the marketing function. Topics usually include mar-keting planning, situation analysis, segmentation, targeting, positioning, the marmar-keting mix and relationship marketing.

Organisational behaviour

Organisational behaviour (one of the softer of the hard subjects) provides an understanding of how an organisation works and the behaviour of groups and individuals within it. Topics cov-ered include group culture, managing performance, developing a corporate vision and design-ing effective organisations.

Operations management

This course examines how to establish the processes that create a company’s products and services. It also looks at ways of increasing competitiveness in terms of cost, speed, quality, innovation, flexibility and dependability.


This course looks at how to develop the analytical tools needed to create successful strategies. These include analysing an organisation’s competitive environment and learning how firms develop and sustain competitive advantage over time.

Elective subjects

At some business schools, particularly in Europe, core courses make up the bulk or even the whole programme. But in the longer two-year programmes, especially in the US, elective courses are an integral part of the programme that students must complete.


17 Which MBA? © The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2008

Extracted from the 20th edition of Which MBA? What you will learn—core and elective subjects

In the past, elective courses made up the second year of a two-year programme. But they are now increasingly being brought forward into the first year (another pressure on the tradi-tional core programme). This is mainly so that students who want to change their careers can gain some knowledge of their preferred subject before beginning the all-important internship between the first and second years, when most permanent job offers are made.

The ability to take an in-depth specialisation means that MBA programmes of this sort can be heavily customised to a student’s own interests. However, students should be aware that busi-ness schools can sometimes be fickle about their elective offerings. The subjects offered may vary from year to year (elective courses are often used to try out new ideas or reflect the inter-est of a particular faculty member). Some electives may only be offered if there is enough stu-dent demand and popular electives may be oversubscribed. Some schools, especially in the US, have a bidding system to allocate places on as fair a basis as possible.

You should make sure you know what a school’s policy on electives is since these courses can have an important impact on career prospects. Whether you want to take a wide range of electives or specialise in one area, both the extent and the number of electives offered are important, as is a school’s willingness to add extra classes if a particular subject becomes over-subscribed.

Employers and core and elective subjects

The design of core and electives courses offered by business schools is closely linked to the needs of MBA recruiters. According to the 2007 Corporate Recruiters Survey by the Graduate Management Admissions Council, academic achievement (acquired technical or quantitative skills, strong academic success and specialisations or concentrations of study) is one of the three key factors in hiring recent MBA graduates. The other two are leadership potential (as shown by an applicant’s years of work experience, taking on increased job responsibilities, leading teams and managing people) and prior work experience.

Employers say that an “ideal” hire with a graduate business degree should have on average five years of work experience, be ready to accept an entry-level position, and rise up in the com-pany by deepening their understanding of the business and proving managerial competency. In other words, the “dream job” might better serve as a long-term goal to be reached gradually by making and implementing daily decisions (rather than throwing out big ideas); effectively managing a small team (rather than developing company-wide principles of workforce man-agement); and, lastly, through getting the work done and positively affecting the company’s bottom line.

In addition, according to the survey, employers look for candidates with good job-hunt-ing skills. “MBA degrees do not exempt applicants from proper résumé preparation, e-mail follow-ups using perfect grammar and thorough research about the hiring companies before their interviews.”

Teaching methods

The MBA is different from other academic qualifications in that it is part academic and part vocational and covers a wide range of subjects. The method of working is also different, a mix of noisy classroom debate, intense individual reading and small-group working. All this takes place in an atmosphere of high pressure caused by heavy workloads.


Extracted from the 20th edition of Which MBA? What you will learn—core and elective subjects

18 Which MBA? © The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2008

Three main methods of teaching are used in addition to traditional lectures: case studies (the method was adopted from law schools, hence the name); project work (undertaken outside the school); and group work (usually in sets of 3–6 people). Some schools use a mixture of all methods, some use only one or two and a few rely exclusively on the case method. But what-ever the mix there will be a lot of group working. Other common activities include computer simulations, business games and role-playing.

Case studies

In the case-study method, all subjects, from accountancy and statistics to marketing and cor-porate strategy, are taught using examples drawn from actual companies’ experiences (occa-sionally cases may be fictitious, but they are always based on real-life events). These are usually framed as narratives. Some have a mass of supporting data, relevant and otherwise, and others have little. Students, like managers, are expected to respond based on what infor-mation is available.

The virtue of this method is that it reflects the messy, cross-functional nature of business life, where problems are not clear-cut and there are no right or wrong answers. Schools that use the case method exclusively say that subjects such as accountancy can be taught via this method; others argue that it is best suited to broader areas such as marketing or strategy.

The case method involves calling on a single student, or sometimes a group, to present to the class an analysis of the dilemma contained in the case and the recommended action. The sub-ject is then thrown open to discussion in which obsub-jections are made, alternatives are offered and so on.

Cases take a lot of time and resources to find, study and write. Few schools could write all their own cases even if they wanted to, and most use cases prepared by other schools as well as their own. Harvard Business School, an almost exclusively case-method school, is probably the most prolific source. The predominance of American cases from this and other North American schools provokes criticism elsewhere that the case method results in an inappropriate cultural bias.

Another criticism, especially from employers, is that the case method develops a habit of con-centrating on the overview of management problems rather than the detail of how to solve them.

Nevertheless, case studies remain a stalwart part of MBA programmes throughout the world, if only because they stimulate class discussion and force students to think for themselves (and fast) about real business problems.

Group working

You do not take an MBA by yourself—you take it as part of a group. Since real work increasing-ly involves multidisciplinary task-forces or teams, the schools want to emulate this. They also want to put students in situations where competing demands have to be resolved to get the job done. Some schools observe how students behave in groups and assess them accordingly, fre-quently awarding grades on a group basis.

Groups work together on cases, presentations and projects. They are formed in the first term or semester and generally consist of up to six individuals, either assigned by the programme director or (more rarely) self-selected by the students. Assigned groups are deliberately designed to reflect diversity of background, experience, academic ability and even character.


19 Which MBA? © The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2008

Extracted from the 20th edition of Which MBA? What you will learn—core and elective subjects

Groups may be rotated at set intervals to allow individuals to work with as many of their class-mates as possible.

Although many students see group working as a useful and relevant experience, some com-plain vigorously about other group members, dislike the extra effort that group work involves and question its validity. In the busy schedule of an MBA programme, simply finding a time and place for all to meet can be difficult.


Students at US business schools usually have to achieve a required standard in each subject studied, typically a grade B or about 70%. Often this must be achieved as an average across all subjects. Grades can be awarded for course work, assignments, class participation, group work (where each student’s mark depends on others in the group) and formal examinations. Some schools use a forced grading system, which means that, typically, 10% of students must get the lowest grade. Students with 45% of all their results in the lowest grade are in trouble. Schools in other parts of the world use a similar system, but with slightly more emphasis on examin ations. Forced grading is particularly unpopular, mainly because students say it encour-ages a highly competitive, unco-operative atmosphere.

Wharton’s new-style curriculum (1991)

The third edition of Which MBA? (1991) announced the arrival of what it described as “one of the most significant developments in MBA education in 30 years” and one also hailed by Business Week as “the MBA for the 21st Century”. Here’s what we said about Wharton’s then new curriculum at the time:

In general, Wharton’s new curriculum builds on the School’s traditional strengths in functional areas, but integrates them more effectively. It introduces new areas (such as geopolitics, innovation and entrepreneurship, and quality management), expands the School’s global focus and develops stronger leadership skills. There are a number of innovations in both content and structure: team-taught, cross disciplinary cases, tightly-focused 6-week modules, new disciplines such as Technology and Risk and Crisis Management, and an intensive international study tour. To ensure that all students meet the demands of this accelerated programme, Wharton has developed a unique 4-week pre-entry programme that provides advance preparation in both technical skills and the humanities.








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21 Which MBA? © The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2008

Extracted from the 20th edition of Which MBA?

What you’ll learn—soft skills

“Soft skills”—communications, teamwork, leadership and so on—are the current buzz words of MBA programmes (though they have been around as an issue for longer than you might think— see box). Business schools are now insisting that students add such courses to an already overcrowded curriculum because this is what recruiters say they want. In a recent Economist Intelligence Unit study, it was soft skills—honesty, communication and people skills—and not functional capabilities that topped the list of characteristics executives were looking for in their most talented young managers.

One reason for this is that many recruiters (and business schools) believe that the main func-tional core courses taught at business school (see Chapter 2) are now virtually a “commodity”, with little difference in content or teaching methods (or skills) between schools. Adding soft skills to the curriculum is becoming a way for a school to differentiate itself from its competi-tors and attract the attention of recruiters.

Approaches to soft skills teaching

Of course, attributes such as leadership are not easy to teach. One of the first business schools to take this kind of training seriously was the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business. Its LEAD (Leadership Effectiveness and Development) programme is a required first-year MBA course and now takes up over 125 hours of a student’s time.

According to Chicago, the aim of LEAD is to improve students’ abilities to motivate people, build relationships and influence outcomes. It does this through role play, team building, and other creative activities and experiences. Interestingly, LEAD also offers a learning opportuni-ty for some second-year students, who serve as course facilitators, presenting course material and coaching and mentoring first-year participants.

IMD in Switzerland runs a similar course called Leadership and Personal Development, which combines outdoor activities, personal leadership development and study of organisational behaviour. IMD argues that outdoor exercises provide an effective method for developing lead-ership in that they allow the exploration of the deeper determinants of individual, interper-sonal and group behaviour and offer the chance to explore openly behavioural factors which otherwise operate only in the shadows: “the more you step out of your comfort zone, the more you will learn”.

Another element of the course involves students understanding their personal leadership style, how they interact with others and in what situations their strengths are most effective. This is done through in-depth self-analysis, with the use of personal coaching by a trained psycholo-gist, personality tests, team-building exercises, study group feedback on individual strengths and weaknesses and leadership style, and group exploration of what makes effective leaders. This is then combined with the study of individuals and social systems through organisational behaviour to refine a leadership style.


Extracted from the 20th edition of Which MBA? What you’ll learn—soft skills

22 Which MBA? © The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2008

Similarly, the new MBA curriculum at Stanford (see page 282) places a heavy emphasis on teaching leadership and other soft skills, bringing executives into the classroom to relate their experiences. Students take part in leadership simulations and other exercises, including assuming executive roles and being assessed by senior alumni.

As this makes clear, not all soft skills can be imparted purely by business schools themselves. There is also a role for business in helping to inculcate the values, attributes and competencies it so loudly says that it is looking for. Business executives and recruiters need to be involved in management education themselves. There are many ways business schools are helping them to do this, including bringing in executives as adjunct faculty, student mentors or executives in residence.

The second edition of Which MBA? (published in 1990 and written by Jane Rogers) surveyed MBA graduates, MBA recruiters and corporate HR specialists. Here’s what the survey revealed about “soft skills”:

There was considerable agreement about the key issues that MBA

programmes should be addressing in the future. 39 per cent of the recruiters and 43 per cent of the personnel directors [HR specialists] thought that leadership was the most critical issue while a further 26 per cent of the

recruiters and 31 per cent of the personnel directors thought that creativity and innovation were the second priority. This concern in human resources managers is not surprising—after all, their job is to develop future managers, but it contrasts with the very limited way most MBA programmes view the topic.

It is striking that many of the new programmes developed in conjunction with companies reflect this concern [while] flagship full-time programmes … are way behind. Business schools tend to concentrate on other areas which are important such as internationalisation … and management and control of information … because these subjects can be fitted into the traditional academic mould—leadership, creativity and innovation are altogether more messy.

The issue that graduates thought was the most important for MBA programmes to address in the future was leadership followed by management and control of information. The graduates were also concerned about the management of change and a variety of people issues including people management, ethics, social responsibility and broadmindedness. The implication is that graduates were happy that functional areas and analytical skills were covered effectively in their programmes but that they had become aware of other needs once they were back in the workforce.

In-company projects

However, perhaps the most important element is the in-company project. This is a compulsory component of almost all MBA programmes, though the emphasis placed on it can vary. Some schools, especially in Europe, such as Trinity College (Dublin) and Ashridge, build almost the whole programme around projects. At Manchester Business School the so-called “Manchester Method” reflects the school’s dedication to project work. Projects can help to instil some of the softer business skills, such as leadership and interpersonal relations.

Elsewhere in Europe, the project often follows on from the taught part of the programme (and may well take place with little input from the school) and concludes with a lengthy


disserta-23 Which MBA? © The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2008

Extracted from the 20th edition of Which MBA? What you’ll learn—soft skills

tion, reflecting the academic model of masters’ degrees in other subjects. Usually, students undertake such projects individually. In part-time and executive programmes, the project is often carried out within a student’s own organisation and is promoted as a key value to spon-soring companies.

Other schools, including many in the US, build smaller and shorter projects into the structure of the programme. This type of project normally consists of a consultancy-like task and is ideal-ly of real value to the organisation in which it is undertaken. Students are divided into groups of 2–4 and conduct research both within and outside the company. They prepare a report and recommendations for action, which are often formally presented to corporate executives as well as to business school faculty.

As part of their project work, students at London Business School (LBS) spend a week observ-ing (“shadowobserv-ing”) managers at work and attemptobserv-ing to build an objective profile of their management style. LBS says the shadowing project allows students to observe the challenges faced by managers, appreciate the real world of managerial work by testing academic theories against observed data, develop a deeper understanding of the relationship between manager-ial style and organisational context, and reflect on leadership values.

Using practising executives

Many business schools are assiduous users of executives not just as objects of research but also as adjunct faculty or at the very least as visiting speakers to address MBA students. In part their success in doing so depends on their location. Schools based in large financial centres such as London, New York or Shanghai usually have the most resources available.

Columbia Business School in New York is a good example. As the school is not slow to point out, New York City acts as “a living laboratory”. Corporate stars are regular visitors on campus to meet students and often work with faculty on research and teaching.

At Southern Methodist University (Cox) in the US, more than 200 executives and managers act as mentors to students on the MBA and other programmes. Students can view the mentors’ professional biographies online and then nominate them as potential mentors. Once they have met, student and mentor can decide how often they wish to get together and how the relation-ship should be structured.

Executives in residence, who regularly teach courses or advise students, are particularly popu-lar in North America. Mainly they serve for about year but it can be longer.


25 Which MBA? © The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2008

Extracted from the 20th edition of Which MBA?

Full-time rankings

Why rank?

The Which MBA? ranking of full-time MBA programmes is now in its seventh year. The reason we rank schools is straightforward: students demand it. If you are to pay tens of thousands of dol-lars for your tuition, it is only natural to seek some impartial judgement on the quality of the schools you are considering. Business schools themselves are slowly coming around to the idea of rankings too. It is fair to say that at first they were antipathetic to them—after all, no one really likes to be graded by outsiders—but now many recognise rankings as a legitimate tool for prospective students. (Many have come to see the rankings as effective marketing tool as well.) This is not to say that rankings are perfect. The rankings should form only part of a student’s selection process. It is equally important to look at issues such as school culture, employment prospects and areas of speciality. Although the Which MBA? rankings do not seek to measure a school’s reputation, this can also be important.

To gain a rounded picture, it is essential to look at several different rankings. No two rankings will seek to measure exactly the same things, so be sure you understand the methodology of the survey and whether or not what is being measured is an important consideration for you.

How is the Economist Intelligence Unit ranking different?

The ethos behind our ranking is simple. For well over a decade the Economist Intelligence Unit has been surveying students about why they decided to take an MBA. Four factors consistently emerge:

● to open new career opportunities and/or further current career; ● personal development and educational experience;

● to increase salary; ● the potential to network

These are the basis of our ranking. The Economist Intelligence Unit ranks full-time programmes on their ability to deliver to students the things that they themselves cite as most important. It weights each element according to the average importance given to it by students surveyed over the past five years. The criteria used to measure each of these four factors are detailed in Table 8.8.


Extracted from the 20th edition of Which MBA? Full-time rankings

26 Which MBA? © The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2008

Other rankings

It is essential to look at several rankings when choosing a school and to understand the

methodologies behind them. There are countless rankings on the market, often concentrating on a specific country or region. However, alongside the Economist Intelligence Unit’s, there are three other major global rankings.

Business Week. This is probably the most influential ranking, especially in North America. It surveys MBA graduates and MBA recruiters on a wide range of issues. Perhaps mindful of the Financial Times

(see below), it has introduced a measure of “intellectual capital”, which it describes as “a school’s influence on the realm of ideas.” This makes up 10% of the ranking; the remaining 90% is split between students and recruiters.

Top ranked schools (US): 1. Chicago; 2. Pennsylvania (Wharton); 3. Northwestern (Kellogg); 4. Harvard; 5. Michigan (Ross).

Top ranked schools (non-US): 1. Queen’s; 2. Western Ontario (Ivey); 3. Toronto (Rotman); 4. IMD; 5. London

Financial Times. This ranking is based on three main criteria: the career progression obtained from the MBA (particularly its purchasing power in the marketplace); diversity of experience; and the school’s research qualities.

Top ranked schools: 1. Pennsylvania (Wharton); 2. Columbia; 3= Harvard; 3= Stanford; 5. London

Wall Street Journal. This ranking is based on a survey of recruiters on their perceptions of the attributes of schools and students.

Top ranked schools: 1. Dartmouth (Tuck); 2. Michigan (Ross); 3. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper); 4. Northwestern (Kellogg); 5. Pennsylvania (Wharton)

All MBA programme rankings depend on surveys of interested parties: the business schools; the students or graduates; and recruiters. The Economist Intelligence Unit ranking follows this pattern but differs from the rest in several important areas.

● More student-centric (continuing Which MBA?’s tradition of appealing to a student audi-ence). It measures the way schools meet the demands students have of an MBA programme. ● All-embracing. It is based on detailed questionnaires completed by business schools and

around 20,000 current MBA students and graduates around the world. Key numerical data (such as average GMAT scores) are combined with subjective views from students and gradu-ates (such as their assessment of a business school’s faculty).

● Global. It allows direct comparison of MBA programmes around the world.

● Regional. It compares MBA programmes in three regions: North America; Europe; and Asia and Australasia.

● Flexible. Programmes may be ranked in many ways, producing, for example, tables of the top ten US or Asian and Australasian schools by GMAT score or the top ten US and European schools by percentage of foreign students.

● Transparent. All the data used to rank schools are published as part of the school’s profile in the directory section of this book.


27 Which MBA? © The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2008

Extracted from the 20th edition of Which MBA? Full-time rankings

How did we choose which schools to rank?

The Economist Intelligence Unit ranking of full-time MBA programmes was based on an initial selection of 133 leading business schools around the world. All 133 schools were invited to take part in our two-stage survey, which requires input from schools and the students/alumni of each school. Of these, we were unable to rank 18 schools (see Table 8.1). The global top 100 schools were gleaned from the remaining 115. Schools outside the top 100 were given a regional ranking only.

Table 8.1

Why schools could not be ranked

Failed to respond/unwilling to take part

Australian Graduate School of Management

Babson College—Franklin W Olin Graduate School of Business University of Calgary—Haskayne School of Business Concordia University—John Molson School of Business EDHEC Business School

ENPC School of International Management Helsinki School of Economics

Heriot-Watt University—Edinburgh Business School Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris—MBA Sciences Po Queen’s School of Business—Queen’s University

University of Toronto—Joseph L Rotman School of Management University of Western Ontario—Richard Ivey School of Business College of William & Mary—Mason School of Business

Insufficient data

EGADE—Tec de Monterrey

Georgetown University— McDonough School of Business Royal Holloway School of Management—University of London University of Southampton—School of Management

No full-time programme

Open University Business School

Given that 400 schools in the US have AACSB International accreditation and there are many more that are not accredited, it could be argued that, with 59 North American schools, the Economist Intelligence Unit ranking under-represents this important MBA market. However, one of the main objectives of the survey is to provide global comparisons and it was limited to leading schools throughout the world (so even schools at the bottom of our rankings are among the world’s best). In common with all other rankings, there was an element of selectiv-ity before the ranking process began.


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29 Which MBA? © The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2008

Extracted from the 20th edition of Which MBA? Full-time rankings


Rankings are little more than an indication of the MBA market at a particular time. They reflect the prevailing conditions such as salaries, jobs available and the situation at a school at the time the survey was carried out. Results of rankings can be notoriously volatile, so they should be treated with caution. However, the Economist Intelligence Unit survey looks at data over a three-year period, which helps provide a more rounded picture. Table 8.2 is a listing of schools in rank order.

Table 8.2

Global ranking, 2008 Rank (2007 position in

brackets) School Country

1 (5) IMD—International Institute for Management Development Switzerland

2 (3) IESE Business School—University of Navarra Spain

3 (1) University of Chicago—Graduate School of Business US

4 (2) Stanford Graduate School of Business US

5 (4) Dartmouth College—Tuck School of Business US

6 (6) University of California at Berkeley—Haas School of Business US

7 (7) University of Cambridge—Judge Business School UK

8 (8) New York University—Leonard N Stern School of Business US

9 (15) London Business School UK

10 (9) IE Business School Spain

11 (22) Hong Kong University of Science and Technology—School of Business and Management Hong Kong

12 (13) Harvard Business School US

13 (11) Cranfield School of Management UK

14 (21) Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School Belgium

15 (24) York University—Schulich School of Business Canada

16 (14) Northwestern University—Kellogg School of Management US

17 (20) University of Pennsylvania—Wharton School US

18 (17) Massachusetts Institute of Technology—MIT Sloan School of Management US

19 (16) INSEAD France/Singapore

20 (10) Henley Management College UK

21 (18) Columbia Business School US

22 (12) University of Michigan—Stephen M Ross School of Business US

23 (27) Warwick Business School UK

24 (19) Ashridge UK

25 (23) University of Virginia—Darden Graduate School of Business Administration US 26 (n/a) Melbourne Business School—University of Melbourne Australia

27 (31) University of Oxford—Saïd Business School UK

28 (28) Cornell University—Johnson Graduate School of Management US

29 (29) Duke University—Fuqua School of Business US

30 (25) Yale School of Management US


Extracted from the 20th edition of Which MBA? Full-time rankings

30 Which MBA? © The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2008

Rank (2007 position in

brackets) School Country

32 (37) HEC School of Management, Paris France

33 (47) ESADE Business School Spain

34 (32) University of Notre Dame—Mendoza College of Business US

35 (33) Carnegie Mellon University—Tepper School of Business US

36 (26) University of Washington—Business School US

37 (35) International University of Monaco Monaco

38 (41) University of Southern California—Marshall School of Business US

39 (30) Emory University—Goizueta Business School US

40 (44) University College Dublin—Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business Ireland

41 (n/a) UCLA—Anderson School of Management US

42 (n/a) Indiana University—Kelley School of Business US

43 (34) Ohio State University—Fisher College of Business US

44 (n/a) Rice University—Jesse H Jones Graduate School of Management US

45 (58) Imperial College London—Tanaka Business School UK

46 (38) City University—Cass Business School UK

47 (43) Monash University Australia

48 (45) University of Texas at Austin—McCombs School of Business US 49 (42) University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—Kenan-Flagler Business School US 50 (46) Rotterdam School of Management—Erasmus University Netherlands

51 (n/a) Mannheim Business School Germany

52 (50) Lancaster University Management School UK

53 (51) University of Maryland—Robert H Smith School of Business US 54 (48) University of Wisconsin-Madison—Graduate School of Business US

55 (56) University of Edinburgh Business School UK

56 (49) Washington University in St Louis—Olin School of Business US

57 (84) Macquarie Graduate School of Management Australia

58 (36) University of Hong Kong—School of Business Hong Kong

59 (60) Brandeis International Business School US

60 (57) Manchester Business School UK

61 (54) Aston Business School UK

62 (40) Pennsylvania State University—Smeal College of Business US

63 (65) University of Bath School of Management UK

64 (n/a) University of Minnesota—Carlson School of Management US

65 (59) University of Durham—Durham Business School UK

66 (55) Vanderbilt University—Owen Graduate School of Management US

67 (63) University of Birmingham—Birmingham Business School UK

68 (71) University of California at Davis—Graduate School of Management US

69 (78) Audencia School of Management Nantes France

70 (64) University of Strathclyde—Graduate School of Business UK

71 (74) Boston University School of Management US


31 Which MBA? © The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2008

Extracted from the 20th edition of Which MBA? Full-time rankings

Rank (2007 position in

brackets) School Country

73 (91) Chinese University of Hong Kong Hong Kong

74 (66) E.M. Lyon France

75 (68) Purdue University—Krannert Graduate School of Management US 76 (61) University of Iowa—Henry B Tippie School of Management US

77 (52) Leeds University Business School UK

78 (75) University of Glasgow Business School UK

79 (98) Newcastle University Business School UK

80 (86) Bocconi University School of Management Italy

81 (72) Nanyang Technological University—Nanyang Business School Singapore 82 (77) International University of Japan—Graduate School of International Management Japan

83 (67) University of South Carolina—Moore School of Business US

84 (89) University of British Columbia—Sauder School of Business Canada 85 (81) Wake Forest University—Babcock Graduate School of Management US

86 (83) Southern Methodist University—Cox School of Business US

87 (69) University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign—College of Business US 88 (82) University of Rochester—William E Simon Graduate School of Business US 89 (94) National University of Singapore—The NUS Business School Singapore

90 (73) TiasNimbas Business School Netherlands

91 (92) Indian Institute of Management—Ahmedabad India

92 (85) University of Georgia—Terry College of Business US

93 (62) Nottingham University Business School UK

94 (80) Curtin University Graduate School of Business Australia

95 (95) Temple University—Fox School of Business US

96 (n/a) Thunderbird School of Global Management US

97 (97) Universiteit Nyenrode—The Netherlands Business School Netherlands

98 (88) Sheffield University Management School UK

99 (93) Bradford School of Management UK

100 (n/a) McGill University—Faculty of Management Canada

Given the emphasis that full-time students put on schools’ careers services it is no surprise to find that this is one of the strong points of most of the top schools in the ranking. It is per-haps the area that receives the most vocal criticism from students when it does not meet their high expectations, but when managed well it can set a school apart. At IMD, for example, 99% of students were in a job within three months of graduating, a fact that no doubt helped the careers service receive a very high rating from students. It was a similar story at IESE and Chicago, both of which score highly in the open new career opportunities category.

One reason that the top-rated schools have impressive careers statistics is that they are well-resourced. However, it is also true that the students from the schools with the highest aca-demic standard will automatically draw the attention of the best employers. What sets the top-rated schools apart is that they do not rely merely on their reputation to place students, but couple this with a tireless quest to bring the best employers to the school.


Extracted from the 20th edition of Which MBA? Full-time rankings

32 Which MBA? © The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2008

Bringing together the top companies and the brightest students inevitably leads to some impressive salaries. European schools have recently had the upper hand when it comes to the salaries of their graduates. This is partly because their students are generally older with more work experience. However, despite a tough economic climate, many US schools have seen an increase in the salaries of their graduates. Twelve schools now boast average salaries over US$100,000, with Stanford leading North America at US$112,000.

But this is still well behind Europe’s tally of 21 schools. At IMD, for example, graduates can expect to earn a basic salary of US$130,000. Even at some lower-ranking European schools, such as Strathclyde or Audencia, students can expect to out-earn their more prestigious coun-terparts at Stanford or Harvard.

Table 8.3

Top ten schools by category

Open new career Personal development Increase Potential opportunities and educational salary to network


1 Chicago Henley Ashridge Henley

2 Indian Institute (Ahmedabad) Monash Henley Thunderbird

3 Hong Kong UST Curtin HEC Paris Vlerick Leuven Gent

4 California at Berkeley (Haas) Bath IESE New York (Stern)

5 New York (Stern) Cambridge (Judge) Warwick HEC Paris

6 Dartmouth (Tuck) Hong Kong UST IMD IE

7 IE Melbourne Oxford (Saïd) Notre Dame (Mendoza)

8 IESE INSEAD Bath Cambridge (Judge)

9 Virginia (Darden) Hong Kong SB Hult E.M. Lyon

10 IMD York (Schulich) London Northwestern (Kellogg)

European schools also do well in the networking stakes, often because their alumni are more international. IE, for example, has alumni associations in 49 countries. Even relatively young European schools, such as Cambridge, already have an impressive reach across the world. In contrast, many US schools’ alumni are yet to open a single overseas branch.

What the US schools are generally much better at, though, is keeping their alumni active once they have left the programme. In this they are helped to some extent by having graduated more MBAs each year for a longer time, meaning they have a bigger alumni base. But it is still an impressive achievement to keep so many involved. Wharton, for example has over 80,000 active MBA alumni and Stern (New York) has over 50,000.


33 Which MBA? © The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2008

Extracted from the 20th edition of Which MBA? Full-time rankings

Regional round-up

North America

Despite some signs that the rest of the world is closing the gap, the US is still the world leader in business education. Few schools outside the country can match the influence, reputation and sheer size of the leading US schools, such as Chicago, Stanford, Harvard and Wharton. The best schools have several advantages. For a start, their prestige is such that they can cherry-pick the best students and faculty. The average GMAT score of a student at Stanford is 721. Wharton may have over 200 faculty teaching on its MBA programme, but every one of them has a PhD; Chicago is not far behind and can also boast several Nobel Prize winners among its faculty.

Table 8.4

North American schools by rank Rank (2007

position in

brackets) School Country

1 (1) University of Chicago—Graduate School of Business US

2 (2) Stanford Graduate School of Business US

3 (3) Dartmouth College—Tuck School of Business US

4 (4) University of California at Berkeley—Haas School of Business US

5 (5) New York University—Leonard N Stern School of Business US

6 (7) Harvard Business School US

7 (13) York University—Schulich School of Business Canada

8 (11) University of Pennsylvania—Wharton School US

9 (8) Northwestern University—Kellogg School of Management US

10 (9) Massachusetts Institute of Technology—MIT Sloan School of Management US

11 (10) Columbia Business School US

12 (6) University of Michigan—Stephen M Ross School of Business US 13 (12) University of Virginia—Darden Graduate School of Business Administration US 14 (16) Cornell University—Johnson Graduate School of Management US

15 (17) Duke University—Fuqua School of Business US

16 (14) Yale School of Management US

17 (22) Hult International Business School US

18 (19) University of Notre Dame—Mendoza College of Business US

19 (20) Carnegie Mellon University—Tepper School of Business US

20 (15) University of Washington—School of Business US

21 (24) University of Southern California—Marshall School of Business US

22 (18) Emory University—Goizueta Business School US

23 (n/a) UCLA—Anderson School of Management US

24 (n/a) Indiana University—Kelley School of Business US

25 (21) Ohio State University—Fisher College of Business US

26 (n/a) Rice University—Jesse H Jones Graduate School of Management US 27 (26) University of Texas at Austin—McCombs School of Business US 28 (25) University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—Kenan-Flagler Business School US 29 (29) University of Maryland—Robert H Smith School of Business US





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