The annual media ritual has started. Like earlier years, Business Today (July 16, 2006) has come out with the annual B-School Survey Ranking...
It is called "perception survey" based on ACNielsen ORG-MARG BEI (Brand Equity Index) model.
In 2003, when BT had decided to do away with facts and rely on perceptions - and had adapted this methodology, it had explained:
"It is based on ACNielsen's trademarked Brand Equity Model, and it involves a perceptual survey of (list of dimensions)etc.... By not depending on questionable factual information, and focusing exclusively on subjective information, the BT survey ends up being most objective of them all."
(Yes, you read it correctly)
This year, the survey results come with a "word of caution". The survey, to quote, is
"based on the perceptions of B-school stakeholders, comprising recruiters, functional heads, MBA wannabes, MBA students and young executives... the survey works like an exit poll - the B-school ranks reveal how our 526 respondents voted on each of the 30 schools. Unfortunately, that also means some high-decibel B-School advertisers end up garnering higher salience, while some others (better schools, but not as aggressive advertisers) rank lower on popular perception..."
One surely appreciates this candidness, and the appeal to reader's rational caution.... Reminds one of the statutary warning on the cigarette packets.
This warning about the validity of results is even more appreciated, since the shortlisted Top 30 "Best" B-Schools of India also include at least two "high decibel" advertisers:
... Which perhaps also reflects how the survey was conducted:
The section describing the methodology of the survey highlights that this year's survey is "more ambitious than the ones before" - which is good news (someone had commented on my last year's post that the ranking is an evolving process and one should bear)
So how ambitious?
To quote, in the same paragaph: "While our previous survey polled 449 respondents... across eight cities, this year's tapped into a larger universe of 526 respondents in 11 cities."
That's great!! - an increase of 77 respondants!!
...to assess the "perceptions" about (quoting from the same issue of the magazine):
The break-up of the sample is as below:
[Please note that the HR recruiters represented "a mix of managers from companies with annual revenues less than Rs 500 crore and more than Rs 500 crore"... I am sure this must be meaning something significant, but, frankly, "what?" escapes my comprehension]
...This will remain one of the unsolved mysteries of sampling techniques - i.e.,the perception these chosen 526 is supposed to reflect the views of a population consisting of:
About how the survey was conducted, the magazine describes:
"In the first phase, we shortlisted the 30 B-schools that were to be ranked. How? By asking MBA wannabes and recruiters to list the B-schools they would consider applying to (in the case of former) and recruiting from (for the latter)."
Hmm... er... Uh??
Isn't there some circular logic here? - Or am I missing something?
I mean, aren't these surveys meant to help the "MBA wannabes" to make a rational choice? And maybe even the "recruiters" to decide on the B-Schools to source from?
But this survey asks them to list the B-Schools they would "consider applying to" or "recruiting from", so that it can tell them which B-Schools they should "consider applying to" or "recruiting from" !!!
...I guess, there is a time one should maintain a stoic calm, give up one's attempts to make sense out of glossy charts and bar-diagram... and feel grateful that in any decent B-School, such a survey will get an 'F' grade.
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