Tuesday, September 20, 2005

"B-School Surveys" Misguide....Period!!!

The B-School Ranking Season is here... and confusion galore!!!

If B-Schools claim that they teach the students how to make wise decisions amidst ambiguity and uncertainty, then the learning process certainly starts for the wannbe MBAs when they consider the numerous published B-School Rankings to chose where to apply.

So far in this season, only 3 publications have published their unique - and mutually contradictory - rankings.

However, last year 6-7 publications had ranked the B-Schools on their self-selcted criteria... so one can safely anticipate that more rankings will be getting published in the coming months... In fact, given the craze of media to rank everything, anything goes - more rankings, more critereia, more clarifications in small prints... and more confusion...

... I mean, there is no law which says that, say, Femina, Chandamama, or Janasatta - or for that matter, Banta Singh Santa Singh Foundation for Whatever- cannot rank B-schools, is there?.

What has made the process of ranking slightly tough for the publications this year is the decision by all IIMs not to participate in the ranking (I guess, the same for FMS Delhi, but am not sure)... and XLRI, Jamshedpur is participating on a selective basis.

But, the 3 rankings - by Business World, Outlook and AIMA-Business Standard - published so far are worth looking at:

A. Business Today (June 19, 2005)

A couple of years back, BT had decided that since verifying the information given by the B-Schools is virtually impossible, it is more convenient to evaluate the B-Schools as "Brands". This year too, the ranking is based on "Brand Loyalty + Price Premium", etc.

...er ...pardon this extremely stupid question: when you select a B-school to study in, is it really like buying a soap?)

Their 2-stage methodology is interesting:

Stage 1: How do you shortlist the 30 B-schools to be ranked?
Just ask

  • 101 MBA aspirants (out of more than 100,000 who sat for CAT, and more than 50,000 who appeared for XAT), and
  • 75 recruiters (sample: "a mix of managers from companies with revenue less than Rs 500 crore and more than 500 crore" - so precise!!!)

    Stage 2: And how do you arrive at the magical rankings?
    Interview another 108 current MBAs, 88 young executives and 77 functional heads

    Total Sample for survey: 449

    (they ranked almost 1000 B-schools in the country!!!)

    But Presto! - here are the rankings:

    1. IIM, Ahmedabad
    2. IIM, Bangalore
    3. FMS, Delhi
    4. IIM, Calcutta
    5. XLRI, Jamshedpur
    6. IIM, Lucknow
    7. IIFT, Delhi
    8. Symbiosis, Pune
    9. JBIMS, Mumbai
    10. NMIMS, Mumbai

    ... Which may look OK at a first glance, till you look at the details in the pages that follow. Some startling revelations from this study:

  • IIM, Bangalore does not feature in the Top-10 list of Recruiters' Choice.

  • A recruiter would rather go to KJ Somaiya or to Symbiosis or to IIFT (nothing against these institutions - they are good in their own ways) than to IIM Calcutta

  • An MBA aspirant, given a choice between ITM Ghaziabad and IIM, Calcutta, is likely to join the former

  • For that matter, an MBA aspirant is likely to select ITM Ghaziabad or Alliance or Amity over XLRI Jamshedpur (which does not even feature in the Top-10 of the Wannabe MBA's choice.

    Needless to say, such findings would shake one's faith in reality as one knows it!!

    B. Outlook (September 15th, 2005)

    This one looked like a more comprehensive and rigorous ranking - what with 6-7 well-defined parameters. Pretty honest also, since the magazine mentions that out of the invitations it sent to 950 B-Schools, only 234 responded. To clarify to the wannabe MBAs, as to why there were so many B-schools who refused to participate in the survey, page 62 clarifies:

    "The were all wrong: they didn't have a clue about how B-School rankings are done; many, who sat in their cosy, air-conditioned offices, were criticising it only because their particular institutes had been ranked low in some surveys; then there were those who were shell-shocked by their institute's ranking and opted out of most of surveys."

    Notable among these B-Schools, who
    (1) had no "clue about how B-School rankings are done", and
    (2) "were shell-shocked by their institute's ranking"
    were the IIMs, XLRI (and I guess, FMS, Delhi), who refused to participate in the ranking survey

    Nevertheless, for some myterious reasons (or not so mysterious either - I mean, how do you justify the validity of your objective B-School Rankings, if they don't feature the IIMs in the top-10), the magazine did rank IIM A/B/C... Based on "secondary data"...

    So here goes... Have your pick:

    1. IIM, Ahmedabad*
    2. IIM, Bangalore*
    3. IIM, Calcutta*

    4. MDI, Gurgaon
    5. SP Jain Instt, Mumbai
    6. IIFT, New Delhi
    7. NMIMS, Mumbai
    8. XIM, Bhubneshwar
    9. ICFAI, Hyderabad
    10. IMI, Delhi
    (* did not participate in the survey - ranking based on "secondary data")

    Ok, if MDI did not feature in the top-10 of the earlier BT survey, or if the FMS Delhi or XLRI Jamshedpur does not feature in this list... Well, your luck!... Take your pick!!!

    C. AIMA-Business Standard (BS, September 15, 2005)

    Ah.... Finally a "politically correct" survey!

    This one does not "rank" but "grades" the B-Schools - and publishes them in "alphabetical" order (don't know how many people read the fine print that the following are the Top 10 A+ B-Schools, and are not ranked from 1-to-10

  • Bhavan's SP Jain Instt, Mumbai
  • DMS, IIT Delhi
  • IIFT, New Delhi
  • IMT, Ghaziabad
  • IRMA, Anand
  • MDI, Gurgaon
  • NITIE, Mumbai
  • University Business School, Chandigarh
  • XIM, Bhubaneswar
  • XLRI, Jamshedpur

    OK, OK!!!... we will ignore the fact that "SP Jain Instt of...." is actually - and technically - "Bharti Vidya Bhavan's SP Jain Instt..."... . Frankly, I did not know this... and therefore will naturally lead the pack of A+s

    Just a slight of hand (or pen), one will say... :)

    Postscript: Since the issue/dynamics of "Why Rank/ Be Ranked/ Rely on Ranks" has alrady been covered in an earlier posting - The Maya of B-School Salary - I have skipped that...


    Anonymous said...

    Interesting and ruthless.. I think this piece should be circulated a bit more widely to ensure that rankings like these are given the treatment they deserve.

    Rankings do have a legitimate need for people trying to make a choice though. Not the type which come out which are more of a attempt to sell advertising space and copies.
    More so in case where the product is hard to put in concrete parameters. Hence rankings on music albums, books, etc.
    Maybe the problem is the fact that B-schools are big black boxes with little interactions with its constituency of prospectives and firms. Maybe they need to work on their interface better, so people do not need these rankings for making a choice.

    I find it interesting that the same sort of rabid yellow journalism does not seems to happen for engineering colleges. They too have a few big pay packets, huge demand and low supply conditions. Could it be the fact that engg fees are better regulated as compared to MBA fees?


    Ordeenary said...

    And in the AIMA ranking, which was published in Business Standard, you should have noted that the B-School names were under an heading which read 'Country'. A real lousy job of copy-pasting. The author should have joined some MBA program to learn that.
    As if this was npot enough, the editor had the audacity of writing an editorial based on this ranking. I could not muster the courage to read the editorial piece. Looks like he has interests that go beyond sharing of facts and figures.
    I request you to write an article in a News paper on these rankings. I think many papers will be happy to publish that.


    Anonymous said...

    I know that ICFAI bribes Cosmode(ranking authority that submits data to business world) to get a favorable ranking. Infact they forge students signatures for electives that were never offered. This is true for all branches in ICFAI. Also there are apprehension about the degrees the faculty members have in ICFAI.

    Anonymous said...

    Yeah I agree the very foundation of ICFAI is on lies and deceit. Students pay over 5 lacs just to get a mediocre treatment in jobs.

    Anonymous said...

    I'll be anonymous because I write for the first mentioned of the magazines. While I agree that the BT survey flaw - main flaw - is that our sample size is way too small, and small city-centric surveys do tend to get skewed - if you draw your smaple from B-grade DU/MU colleges those respondents know they have no hope in hell of going to IIM. Secondly, the recruiters surveyed very often can't afford IIM and are very honest about it. There are problems in our survey and we recognise that, however keep in mind that surveys are a continously upgraded process. As for the 'Branding' bit - let me explain a bit further - once you get into bits where you compare things like 'papers released' or 'infrastructure' which seem very nice but are in fact very vague and have (and are) constantly fudged. Perception audits can tend to get very skewed and I do know that TNS-Sofres-Mode is working to improve their mathematical processes. Going by the same logic - do I believe the India Today College Ranking - Nope. But thats up to each one of us.
    However, lets not even talk about Cosmode - imagine the person running an agency which ranks B-Schools has an association with one? I'll leave it to you to find out who.

    Sonia Chawla said...
    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
    Sonia Chawla said...

    This is a question that came up often at the mid night conversation at bishu. Zealous students defending our institute -how is that college above ours and things like that, the debates were heated .

    But on a more serious note, for someone making as serious a career decision as a MBA and struck between the 2/3 institutes which seem at par and yet may change the pedestral from where he will start his corporate life, information of any kind is a prized community and hence is easily lapped.

    That we choose not to participate in one survey or the other does not make us holier than thou.

    If these rankings/methods are not correct than any one/an association of the top b-schools needs to take the onus of coming out with info/ranking which is factual, correct, believable and reaches the desired audiences

    Afterall no information is not a substitute for little information/judgement. And the way business schools zealously guard their 'traditions' they can't cry foul when some one estimates/assumes the stuff they are not willing to share.

    Not generalizing but maybe some of these ranking try to make use of whatever info they can get - 'A real life case of making decisions from incomplete and imprecise information. And all said and done, they do serve a purpose.

    ( I based my business school prefernces on the basis of what I read on coolavenues about last years recruitments & salaries etc. Being in a business school for two years I am wiser now)

    srini said...

    While I agree that the surveys are skewed This raises few basic questions
    1.Who is going to organize this or make sure that the job done by these kind of people is spurious or worthy??
    2.While the people who know about this articles keep their voices down and never follow what will happen to those people who beleives it and and follow it??

    Anonymous said...

    Excuse me guys !!! I am a student of IBS ahmedabad.I got an offer from ICICI Bank with a package of 6.01 ( Assistant Manager 2 grade).So the basis of ICFAI is not on lies and deceit.Those are all baseless allegations.There are guys from our campus who bagged a salary of 7.5 lakhs ( DE shaw).So before pointing fingers at ICFAI just visit the campuses and see the placement details.The average salary offered by "so called premier" institutes is in the range of 5-7 lakhs.Moreover Icfai Ahmedabad had achieved almost 100% campusing in just a few days this year.


    Anonymous said...


    VISIT www.icfaifightsback.blogspot.com

    Smits said...

    Guys .... can somebody give a panaromic view of rankings given to the said colleges.

    IIMs / SP Jain are known to all what about the colleges such as Welingkar, Somaiya, ...

    Would like to raise a query: Can somebody guide in ranking when people choose part time / full time courses. How much impact does it create when students come out of these B Schools,& how much response do they get from recruiters.

    There were some queries left unresolved when surfed through net. Pls help

    MOINAK said...



    DreamCatcher said...

    author of this article..really surprising u dont knw whether its ITM ghaziabad or IMT ghaziabad

    Madhukar said...

    thanks for pointing out the typo.

    ..though it is equally surprising that this was the only surprising thing worth commenting you found in the article ;0)

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