Monday, September 12, 2005

The Outlook B school rankings 2005

The Outlook-C Fore B school rankings are out. Should you believe the reams of data and tables that have been printed? Well, it's what has NOT been printed that has me more worried...

To begin with, here is their list of the top 10 institutes:

1) IIM A
2) IIM B
3) IIM C
4) MDI Gurgaon
5) S P Jain
6) IIFT New Delhi
7) NMIMS, Mumbai
8) XIM B
8) IMT Ghaziabad
9) ICFAI Hyderabad
10) IMI Delhi

Ranks 6-10 have benefitted hugely by the absence of several key institutes:
* XLRI, IIM Lucknow - absolutely glaring omissions
* FMS Delhi, JBIMS Mumbai - still top choices, very high brand value
* IIM Kozhikode, IIM Indore - the institutes any student would prefer over an ICFAI / IMI/ IMT!
* Symbiosis - SIBM, SCMHRD

That's 8 whole institutes which should have been ranked somewhere between 4-15 not accounted for at all. And by glossing over this fact the credibility of the survey gets severely dented.

Furthermore, the methodology section of the survey explains: Invitations were sent out to 950 b schools, of which 234 responded. However, "information on some institutes which did not participate directly was obtained from secondary sources available to us"

I'm guessing this means IIM A, B and C - as the IIMs had refused to participate in all B school surveys. Well then why not do the same for the other missing B schools??

The smart thing to do is include box which at least gives a qualitative opinion on "B schools which have opted out of rankings but remain popular with students". And perhaps assign a letter grade to these schools.

It appears to be a clash of egos - B school is miffed by last year's results, says "we won't participate". Magazine says "fine - hum bhi dekh lenge. We'll blank you out".

So even in the accompanying stories there is no mention of the institutes which opted out of the survey - as if they don't exist on the planet!

As for IIM A, B, C - again because they did not officially participate in the survey none of their initiatives are featured. At IIM A for example a new course called PGP X has been started - a 1 year course for executives with 8-15 years experience. This is the institute's response to ISB Hyderabad.

Oh, by the way ISB is completely missing too!

To B or not to B
Why do institutes opt out anyways? Well, there are parameters on which some are completely deficient. For example - full time faculty. The Symbiosis group of institutes for examples employs just about 5-6 full time faculty in SIBM, SCMHRD, SIIB - they have abt 20-30 visiting professors managing the rest of the coursework per term.

Neither does the faculty have any pressure to conduct research, publish papers, attend conferences or do consulting.

From the student's point of view the visiting vs full time debate does not really matter. As long as the institute's reputation and past performance generates good placements, their objective is met.

At this point it's important to understand the difference between a B school and a Management Institute.
A management institute imparts business education, but also seeks to add onto the body of knowledge that exists in the subject as a whole.
A b school on the other hand has a single point objective: teaching the subject of business management.

The trouble with the surveys is that it lumps both categories together. Not all b schools seek to be management institutes - they simply wish to churn out competent graduates. And these graduates join the B school in quest of enhanced job prospects ie placements.

A survey titled 'India's top B schools' must take this dichotomy into account. Maybe the survey should gave two parts:
a) For the students, who have a short term view: Will X or Y b school benefit me?
b) For the academics/ thinktanks who take a longer term view: Are we getting closer to making an impact in management thinking and practice on a national/ global scale?

All institutes may choose not to participate in the second bit because they don't see themselves stretching the boundaries of management thinking - or making global impact - anyways.

Yes, traditionally, management institutes have tended to also be the best B schools. But in the last decade the 'pure B school' model has also come up and needs to be evaluated simply for what it is.

'Sectoral schools'
Another bit that makes no sense to me is a separate table on 'Sectoral B schools' ie the ones which offer specialised courses not general management degrees. Here's the ranking of top sectoral schools:

3) DMS, IIT Delhi
6) IIFM Bhopal
7) NIAEM, Hyd
8) IHMR, Jaipur
9) Delhi School of Economics
10) DMS, NIT Trichy

One glaring omission is Shailesh J Mehta SOM, IIT Bombay. But besides that - why separate these schools from the mainstream? It's not like students decide "I will join only NITIE or IIT-D DMS". They give CAT, XAT etc and then see which is the 'best b school' in the prevailing pecking order they can get into.

At MICA for example only a small percentage would have applied only to MICA. Most MICAns were aiming for an IIM but didn't get in and decided MICA was a better option than say NMIMS.

Yes, some of these schools like the IITs and NITIE take only engineers. But then all IIMs comprise (at least) 70% engineers anyways.

The Way ahead
The fact that these rankings produce a lot of hoo-ha every year has been tackled head on by Outlook in a 3 page article titled 'The Bitter Truth'. The magazine's assertions:
- The rankings are not subjective but objective
- They are transparent - detailed scores are posted at their website
- There is no linkage between the ads you see in the issue and the ranking of B schools (a claim which many still refuse to accept :)
- And lastly, that B school rankings do 'make a difference'.

For example, several Mumbai based institutes which earlied managed fine with visiting faculty are recruiting permanent staff because that improves their rankings. An example provided is that of SIES - its faculty strength has shot up from 8 to 30.

In an era of outsourcing one does not know if this is necessarily the best management practice. You can't attract the best in the business because teaching pays less (and practitioners can add a different kind of value to the classroom!). So the emphasis on 'full time faculty' needs to be debated at some point...

Global debate
The impact of B school rankings on business education is currently the subject of hot debate even in the US. Businessweek magazine reports: In a soon-to-be published article, "What's Really Wrong With U.S. Business Schools," husband and wife USC B-school profs Harry and Linda DeAngelo and the University of Rochester's Jerold Zimmerman lay the blame for B-schools' woes squarely at the doorstep of media rankings -- like those produced by BusinessWeek -- and the B-school deans who pander to them.

The authors maintain that U.S. business schools are in thrall to the rankings, so much so that they're abandoning the "rigorous, conceptual framework" that students need in favor of "quick fixes" to improve their place in the rankings, but do little to help students.

"We're advertising ourselves to the world as experts in managerial techniques, and we're managing our business schools 180 degrees away from what we're teaching -- we're managing for the short term," DeAngelo said in an interview.

The authors maintain that the rankings do a poor job of examining complex academic institutions, and that they lack the kind of statistical precision needed to accurately rank individual schools, arguments that BusinessWeek disputes.

So what's his fix? They suggest increasing the importance of faculty research in the rankings, surveying alumni who graduated between 10 years and 15 years earlier on the long-term impact of their education, and replacing the rankings with letter grades shared by groups of schools deemed to be roughly equal in stature.

In the Indian context I wonder whether any of these would really work... Surveying students who graduated 10-15 years earlier for example would disqualify a huge no of schools which have started only in the last decade! And ratings or letter grades is a good idea but would not sell many copies of these magazines.

Research vs practice
Not all agree with the need to become more research based. "The point DeAngelo is missing is that a business school is a professional school," USC's Warren Bennis said in an interview. "It creates knowledge not just for the [academic] priesthood, but for the wide general public. The work of a businessman is to be a generalist -- to deal with messy data, ambiguities, and uncertainties."

Ted Snyder, the dean of the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business agrees with the Outlook assertion that surveys provide deans with important intelligence about their programs that they can use to make much-needed changes to keep their programs relevant. "Rankings are part of the competitive terrain. Ranks are feedback. Rankings are not our identity."

The article concludes with the question: The media B-school rankings are the tail that wags the dog. Who's to blame for the problems of B-schools today - the tail or the dog?

That's a question we too have to answer here in India. But honestly the least mags can do is avoid statements like this one by Outlook: The IIM citadel may be under threat. New schools have a lesson or two to teach.

Yeah right. And I'm not saying that's ridiculous just because IIM A is my alma mater. You can make 'trend statements' if your surveys are published once every 5 years. Nothing really changes on a year to year basis.

Yes, it does get boring for the magazine and its editors to tom-tom the 'IIMs' year after year but if that's reality - we'll live with the boredom.


  1. The mags give a picture as though they have nothing to do with the institutes. Somtime back ICFAI was reated as top-5, and I just showed it to my brother to evoke all the laughter. My own insti (IIMI) was rated at 5 in one ranking and 21 in another in the same year. Downright ridiculous!

    And yes, that title 'other B-schools break IIM citadel' catches the attention, but they havent mentioned a single thinig that those schools do and IIMs dont. Guess they have to be more factual before coming up with dreamy statements.

  2. My understanding is that ISB has opted out of all B-school ranking as a their course structure, duration is unique in the Indian context.

    If IIM A, B and C had been blacked out, the rankings would have lost its credibility. Outlook can't afford to do that. School, College abd B-School rankings are big money spinners for these magazines and such rankings will continue to exist till such time the School / College / B-school advertisers patronize the magazines.

  3. B-school rankings are a sham. And as someone from the media once said - the rankings bring up varying results as a lot of students can claim to be in a Top-10 B-school.

  4. Thankfully they haven't placed IIPM in the top 10, else that sick institute would have claimed to be better than 3 IIMs, XLRI and FMS etc.

  5. seriously, if 8 big instis have decided to give the survey a miss,they should have atleast informed the readers about those instis....
    in the article Therefore II'M...their 'study' shows that cos. like MUL and L&T do not to go to IIMs ..the truth is they do go to the IIMs and recruit ppl, only if they are able to get them...such kind of errors shows the amount of hard work going in to these studies...
    yesterday, BW came out with an ad in TOI,soliciting ads from b-schools, proclaiming the importance of a b-school ad in a issue with rankings

    anyway, the season has just begin :D

  6. i've seen guys from iim-c/l they are not worth bragging about. Especially the recent bacthes. I do agree the ones in 80s and 90s had the ability to make it big be it corporate or outside but now the present clan has no ethics, no knowledge..but still run madly behind money and leave their present job in a span of 6 months or even less than that. When they sat for their campus placements were they sleeping ? Who is gonna buy their stupid arugment that this is not what they expected from this company etc. They should have done a proper study before taking up the offer. Then too half the junta goes for the pay-package. I heard at least compaines like HLL have learned their lesson by taking students from IIMs and have soon changed their strategy!! People from 2nd rung b-schools are much better..they are well grounded, level-headed and not on cloud nine coz of the brand name . Sooner or later companies realize who is better.

  7. Just a few observations
    1. Number of B-schools Ads in the issue - 29 . Amount/ least 3 Lakhs
    2. Secondary Information cannot determine parameters down to the second decimal. Every single parameter is calculated to the second decimal. Well, that means C-fore has mastered the art of quantifying subjective parameters like faculty, industry interface down to the second decimal.!!!!
    3. If the IIMs have announced they will not take part, and it is not a perception survey, I think the magazine is liable to be taken to court
    4. Number of Institutes that have been featured for guest articles - 1
    5. In the GREAT DEBATE whether B-school Rankings are not true, where is the opposing point of view ??. Maybe I should check up my understanding of the meaning of the word "Debate".

  8. really insightful post... bt these days the rankings started appearing skewed and i myself have very less interest in these.. if the quality of an institute it the same, then why some institutes dont even appear in some rankings while appear on top in some other. i mean such a huge difference shudnt happen right.

  9. just to update u ashi, HLL recruit ONLY from A,B,C,L,Xl,NITIE,FMS,SPJ(i m not sure abt I and K) :)

  10. ratings !!!! ... india today india's engineering college rankings ...
    IIT kharagpur best infrastructure in 2003
    ..ranked 13 for infrastructure in 2004
    during 2003-2004 IIT kgo added one 800 room hostel and two new research centers ...
    i am wondering how come infrastructure can change so much in one year???

  11. Hey will you please guide me if as to which is better PM in XISS, ranchi(Xaviers institute of social sciences) or ITM Navi Mumbai(finance or marketing )( Institute of Technology and Management, Navi Mumbai). I seriously do need a help. My id is

  12. Meaningless trash those C-Fore surveys and the Business magazine surveys and their rankings, it has no theory behind it no crediblity and no use of logististics whatsoever. The article written here is well done.
    My guess is that these publishers call up the Institute and ask them where they want to be ranked and accordingly charge them an "consultantion fee" and then do whatever they can with word play to explain all the science behing the ranking and how objective it is.
    Realistically speaking to get a better idea on what to expext from a B-school ask the last year's batch and that is about it, most of the students do their summer internship decent enough and that pretty much sets them up for the placement later on, the branding of the institute here doesn't play that big a part.
    Once agian there are Institutes which just ride on the past years performance and claim to be better just by default, don't go by any of this. Check the place out, if you like it enough apply there and get the academics sorted out.
    Don't go by name or anything.
    Placements do make a huge difference when you eneter a B-School but this is an area where your personal efforts can yield a better job and career than the wait and get placed plan.

  13. A catchy cover saying MBA Ranking or T-School Ranking for year blah blah... and articles full of useless crap. I wonder if at all they go out and talk to people, or whole process takes place in their offices itself? Totally misleading ranking... Specially MDI above XL and L... ARE THEY KIDDING?

  14. hi dis is rohit m doing my degree in biotechnology but i want to pursue my pg in manegment studies,my mind is completly mess up so can any one plz let me know about icfai hyd,iipm delhi,iimm pune,mit pune.

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