Over the past three decades business schools have undergone significant changes, due in part to the work of media ranking publications contend Robert S. Rubin, Eric C. Dierdorff, and Fredrick P. Morgeson report.
Rankings such as BusinessWeek, US News & World Report, and Financial Times have pushed MBA programs toward increased accountability to constituent concerns. Indeed, our colleagues who were in business schools prior to BusinessWeek refer to life; back then as “BBW” – before BusinessWeek. Business schools seemed to have heard the central message: come down from the ivory tower and get to work improving the MBA. After all, stakeholders have the right to know how their resource investments will be shaped. The infl uence of media rankings on recruiter behavior, alumni donations, placement, applicant quality and so forth is undeniable.
The general consumer view of media rankings is that they objectively and comprehensively summarise an MBa programme’s most fundamental product – educational quality. unfortunately, academic research shows rankings are inadequate indicators of educational quality. We believe the time has come to move business school assessment away from incomplete rankings and toward a comprehensive rating system.
Moving to a rating system requires a detailed understanding of the essential criteria that constitute educational quality in graduate management education. To date, such an important undertaking has yet to be conducted. We recently conducted a research study aimed at systematically defining and assessing what constitutes MBA program quality. Our research builds the necessary foundation to move beyond rankings, and towards a rating system.
MBA Academic Quality
We reviewed the academic literature on educational quality, both within business education and in post-secondary education in general. We also reviewed media sources and accreditation standards. From this initial effort we identified nearly 50 sources and derived more than 300 different educational quality indicators.
We reviewed these indicators, and sorted them into twenty four key indicators, within nine broad clusters (below). these indicators were then independently verified by subject matter experts. this is a synopsis of our quality model:
- Curriculum: a) content, b) delivery, and c) program structure
- Faculty: a) qualifications, b) research, c) teaching, and d) overall quality
- Placement: a) alumni network, b) career services, c) corporate/community relations.
- Reputation: a) perceptions of programme quality
- Student learning and outcomes: a) personal competency development, b) student career consequences, c) economic outcomes, and d) learning outcomes
- Institutional resources: a) facilities, b) financial resources, c) investment in faculty, d) tuition and fees, and e) student support services.
- Programme/institution climate: a) diversity and b) educational environment
- Programme student composition: a) the overall makeup and quality of students
- Strategic focus: a) the quality of the articulated institutional mission and strategic plan.
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