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ABIS GlobalNewsBusiness School Rankings for the 21st Century

Business School Rankings for the 21st Century

Friday, January 25, 2019


A new report on business school rankings was recently published under the aegis of the UN Global Compact and with the support of Aviva Investors gives an overview of the current state of the business school rankings and suggests possible changes to help align business school education with the needs of the 21st century.

Business school rankings are produced by organisations such as the Financial Times, the Economist, US News, Business Week, and Forbes. These rankings strongly influence business schools, which in turn influence their students: the next generation of decision-makers. However, these rankings have been critiqued for overemphasising graduate salaries, penalising business schools who educate graduates who work for non-profits, and not properly taking into account sustainability, ethics, or teaching quality.

The report, Business School Rankings for the 21st Century, suggests 20 actions to improve evaluation and ranking and encourage “a race to the top” in business education. Possible actions include:

  • Eliminate entirely, or reduce the weight of, the salary differential measure
  • Incorporate criteria that measure environmental, social, and/or SDG-linked factors within core curricula, research output, hiring, and special research clusters
  • Award credit to schools that train students who work for low-paying but societally valuable organisations after graduation

The report draws on consultations with business schools, progressive businesses, rankings publications, accreditation agencies, and relevant civil society organisations. Contributors include AABS (African Association of Business Schools); ABIS (the Academy of Business in Society); AMBA (Association of MBAs); Aon; the Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism; CSER (Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, University of Cambridge); EFMD (European Foundation for Management Development); GMAC (Graduate Management Admissions Council); GRLI (Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative); Oikos International; and the UN PRME (Principles for Responsible Management Education).

We would like to share with you some quotations from authors and contributors on the topic:

David Pitt-Watson (co-author): “There is an old management adage that 'you get what you measure'. Business schools’ performance needs to be measured. But there is a real concern that the current measures we use need to be rethought if our schools are to truly develop future leaders. This report aims to catalyse and support that process.”

Dr Ellen Quigley (co-author): “In this century, graduates of business schools will oversee fundamental societal changes, including the rapid decarbonisation of the economy. Our hope is that business schools will step into their role as the educators of leaders equipped to address climate change, inequality, poverty, and the other UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

Lise Kingo, CEO & Executive Director of the UN Global Compact: “Significant progress has been made towards integrating the Sustainable Development Goals into business and management education. But to achieve the Global Goals by 2030, we need an even more rapid transformation in our institutions so that the business leaders of tomorrow are equipped with the skills and values needed to mainstream corporate sustainability.”

Andrew Jack, Global Education Editor, Financial Times: “Rankings are very important to the FT as part of our editorial commitment to business school students and faculty. We welcome debate around their calculation, have already modified ours to include factors such as social responsibility, and are  open to new ideas on ways to improve them further. This report is a good step in that direction.”

Ivo Matser, CEO, ABIS: “At the London roundtable we discussed the importance of rankings and how to incorporate sustainability into their methodologies. Most academic ABIS members already included sustainability in their management programs because of their vision of responsibility in business education. With positive pressure on the part of rankings publications, we hope that other business schools will follow suit."

Download the report here



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