Mayhem and Disbelief: Summing Up The Latest MBA Rankings By The Economist

People often obsess over rankings, ratings, reductive lists and ruinous attempts to simplify difficult topics.

As American economist Tyler Cowen caveats though, “As a simple rule of thumb, just imagine every time you’re telling a good vs. evil story, you’re basically lowering your IQ by ten points or more”.

So what to make of this most recent list of The Economist?

READ MORE: Three Australian MBA Programs Rank In The Economist’s Top 100

Firstly, some key points taken from some neat coverage from Poets&Quants article here (The Economist’s rankings list here) include the following “mind-boggles”:

  • US schools swept 9 of the top 10 slots
  • On a year-over-year basis, 57 MBA programs experienced a double-digit decline or gain (a large number of schools boycotted last year’s rankings due to the pandemic)
  • 9 MBA programs fell by 30 or more places, with 29 dropping 20 or more spots

Interestingly though, the article does suggest that the methodology of The Economist is worth considering as it does differ significantly from the rankings methodology of other leading organisations such as Financial Times (FT), Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) etc.

But more broadly, what to make of rankings?

  • If you only cared about rankings, would you not just immediately join a US program? Having said that, doesn’t the US have other … “challenges” … worth considering if you are to spend some years of your life in that part of the world? It’s brilliant for many reasons, but certainly less so for others. Choose wisely!
  • Rankings may be useful in a directional sense, but I don’t know that it’s worth obsessing over. I’ve no doubt brilliant people can be found in very many schools, not just those at Harvard.
  • As a prospective employer, do you really think that you would look at a CV and say “this person’s school ranked #25, and this person’s school ranked #34 so we should clearly select the person who went to the school ranked #25”?

Good luck, choose wisely and beware the rankings, at times, ridiculousness.

Paul Somers
Paul holds an Executive MBA from IE Brown, and has led the MQBS Postgraduate Careers Service’s innovative, entrepreneurial and engaged team since 2020. He has worked at several leading global organisations - both public and private value oriented - domestically and internationally.