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What would rankings look like if the main organisations eliminated or reduced the weight of the salary measure? Laurent Ortmans, Quality Assurance and Ranking Manager at ESMT Berlin and a former statistician behind the FT rankings, shared his views at the recent 2019 EFMD Master Programmes Conference.

When someone criticizes the weight given to salary data in business school rankings, they often have in mind the Financial Times rankings. In the FT Global MBA rankings, salary and salary increase account for 40% of the ranking weight.

“Almost every respondent consulted […] point to an overemphasis on salary data in the major rankings”, wrote David Pitt-Watson and Dr Ellen Quigley in their Business School Rankings for the 21st Century report, published in January 2019 under the aegis of United Nations Global Compact.

Their first recommendation was to “eliminate entirely, or reduce the weight off, the salary differential measure”.

However, their report does not include an impact assessment. What would rankings look like if the main organizations followed this advice? Would they remain “viable”?

David Pitt-Watson and Dr Ellen Quigley’s report coincided with a review launched by the FT of its MBA ranking methodology.

The five case scenarios below look at the increasing impact of reducing salary weights up to eliminating them completely, by country or group of countries, in the FT MBA ranking 2019, assuming everything else remains equal. Disclaimer: This is based on my own analyses/estimates, and not on the actual data.

Although the top US schools (Booth, Columbia, Harvard, Sloan, Wharton) remain in the top 10, and Stanford number 1 under most scenarios, reduction to the salary weight disadvantage mostly US and Indian schools while further reduction to the salary increase weight also disadvantages Chinese schools.

The further these two weights are reduced, the more marked the breakdown by country becomes and the bigger the impact. The analysis is limited to ranked schools only, and not the whole 150 that took part in this ranking. In the most extreme scenarios, many schools in the current list would drop out of the top 100.

1 Comment

  1. Piet Naude on January 21, 2020 at 01:37

    The question is not the reduction of the salary component, but a re-think of what we wish the rankings table tell us.
    In a time of climate crisis and growing income inequality, think of the following as examples:
    *the measured and externally audited reduction in greenhouse emissions augmented by clean solar/water/wind power-generation to give a total “green power count” – take year n as starting benchmark for a school and then measure n+1 to get the “greenhouse reduction figure”
    *Proportion of graduates who – based on a means test – study with full-time bursaries or partial funding from the School’s own resources to measure commitment to access, expressed in a proportion of all participating students in specific cohort. Again year n as starting point and then n+1 measures differential proportion to get to “access enhancement score” (not valid for no-fee schools)