Executive Education Sustainability

The ever-changing landscape of business education: Tale of two rankings4 min read

June 2, 2023 3 min read


The ever-changing landscape of business education: Tale of two rankings4 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutesReading Time: 3 minutes

Amidst this evolving landscape, the importance of business school rankings is being somewhat diluted. As schools become more diverse in their offerings, focusing on unique courses, tailored studies, and targeted specializations, they’re beginning to appeal to different types of students with varying career goals. This diversity brings about a refreshing change. Gone are the days when rankings featured the same cluster of schools at the top, reflecting a homogeneous outlook on business education. Today, the scenario is dramatically different. Rankings still hold value, but they are no longer the definitive guide to choosing a business school. Instead, they serve as one of many considerations for students seeking an education that aligns with their individual needs, aspirations, and values.

Recently, Financial Times (FT) released its executive education and global MBA rankings, offering contested insights into the current state of business education from their perspective.

Executive Education Rankings 2023

Financial Times assess 75 business schools for their executive education programs, both open and customized. The ranking criteria, contributing to 80% of the table weight, are based on clients’ ratings on a 10-point scale covering aspects such as preparation, programme design, teaching methods, faculty, skills acquired, follow-up, aims achieved, value for money, and future use. The remaining criteria, accounting for 20% of the table weight, are calculated using school-provided data on international clients, overseas programmes, growth, partner schools, and faculty diversity.

Executive Education Custom Ranking 2023

Notably, Duke Corporate Education clinched the top spot, followed by Insead, with the HEC Paris ranking third, which already does not represent the usual picture (where is Stanford, Harvard, and Wharton?). Here’s the full list of the top 10:

1. Duke Corporate Education
2. Insead
3. HEC Paris
4. Iese Business School
5. ESMT Berlin
6. University of Michigan: Ross
7. IMD — International Institute for Management Development
8. London Business School
9. SDA Bocconi School of Management
10. Essec Business School

Executive Education Open Ranking 2023

Here, the top list of the top school does not differ much from the ExecEd Custom ranking: Insead, Iese, and HEC Paris still are on the top of the ranking. Besides, we can also see here Harvard Business School and University of Oxford: Saïd. Here’s the full list of the top 10:

1. Iese Business School
2. HEC Paris
3. Esade Business School
4. Insead
5. University of Oxford: Saïd
6. London Business School
7. IMD — International Institute for Management Development
8. Fundação Dom Cabral
9. University of St Gallen
10. IE Business School

Global Perspective on MBA Ranking

Financial Times uses a combination of data from alumni surveys and school data to calculate its Global MBA ranking. The ranking features 100 of the world’s top full-time MBA programmes, with 142 schools participating in the ranking process for the 2023 edition.

For the 2023 ranking, the FT made changes including reducing the weighting of salary criteria, removing the ability to speak other languages as a ranking criterion, and adding new measures focusing on diversity, sustainability, and societal impact. The new criteria include a school’s carbon footprint and the inclusion of ethics, social, environmental issues and climate solutions in core course content.

In the Global MBA Ranking 2023 we see more U.S. business schools, that in the lists on executive education. Here, Columbia Business School rakes th first spot, while Insead is listed the second. Overall, here are the top-10 business schools included in FT’s ranking:

1. Columbia Business School
2. Insead
3. Iese Business School
4. Harvard Business School
5. Stanford Graduate School of Business
6. SDA Bocconi School of Management
7. University of California at Berkeley: Haas
8. Cornell University: Johnson
9. Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management
10. Yale School of Management

Why there business schools take different positions? A year ago, Columbia University opened its new campus in Manhattanvile, New York. At that time, Columbia expected to get a “green building certification”, as it contributes to the sustainable development, if you have not heard about it, you may be interested to look at our blog post (with photos) covering this topic.

The second schools in FT’s ranking on Global MBA (and also one of the top schools in ExecEd rankings) is Insead. It has become one of the first elite business schools to integrate sustainability into its core MBA curriculum extensively. Recognizing the growing demand for leaders who can make informed business decisions regarding sustainability-related risks and opportunities, Insead aims to develop responsible leaders who prioritize both financial performance and sustainable solutions to tackle global challenges. Now, the school offers over 75 elective courses on different aspects of sustainability and a new sustainability-focused capstone, where students act as executives facing a sustainability challenge.

Thus, probably the fact that the business education landscape becomes more and more diverse, and various institutions turn to such topics, as sustainability contributes to the discrepancies between various rankings. The diversity of courses, specialization options, teaching methodologies, and school cultures now available makes it challenging to capture all the opportunities in a single ranking.

The decline in public trust towards traditional rankings, due to issues like data manipulation, further complicates the picture. Some rankings have ceased their operations altogether, while others, like the Positive Impact Rating, have emerged with unique approaches, emphasizing sustainable development goals and eschewing the traditional numbered order in favor of tiered levels. This dynamic era of business education demands a more nuanced approach to choosing a business school.