The International Institute for Management Development (IMD) has done it again. The Lausanne, Switzerland-based school held on to its 2012 lead for the top executive education program in The Financial Times’ 2013 rankings published earlier this week.
IESE Business School in Spain jumped two spots to claim second, while Harvard Business School fell two rungs to fourth, despite topping every school for the quality of teaching and for placing second in “aims achieved” by program participants.
The Thunderbird School of Global Management held steady and kept its third-place ranking. The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business rounded out the top five by moving up one place from sixth last year.
The Financial Times’ list rates the top 70 providers of non-degree business programs for executive-level professionals. Participating schools must have raked in at least $2 million in revenue last year to even be considered. The ranking puts the most weight on a participant survey, where attendees use a 10-point scale to evaluate everything from the quality of teaching to the probability of future use.
At least 20 percent of a program’s participants must answer the survey for the school to make the list. The results comprise 80% of the ranking – school data is used to determine the remaining 20%.
How credible is this ranking? Any survey that puts Thunderbird ahead of such highly regarded business schools, such as Harvard, Stanford, Wharton and Chicago Booth justifiably raises eyebrows. After all, most participants would cherish a program certificate on their resume from Harvard or Wharton much more than one from Thunderbird, despite the school’s superior showing in the FT ranking.
And because surveys of participants are very much based on how a school measured up to expectations, the ranking is largely a reflection of how a group of graduates felt expectations were met or exceeded by their school. It’s not a stretch to believe that Thunderbird participants had expectations that were not quite as high as those as Harvard or Wharton.
Whatever one thinks of the authority of this ranking, it does yield some interesting data. Which schools serve up the best food to their executive education participants? According to the FT, it’s the Stanford Graduate School of Business, followed by Chicago Booth, Wharton, the University of Virginia’s Darden School, and No. 5 Harvard. So much for superior European cuisine.
And when it came to facilities, IMD took top honors for the best learning environment, just ahead of some very surprising winners including No. 2 Washington University’s Olin School, No. 3 Darden, No. 4 European School of Management and Technology, and No. 5 IESE Business School in Spain.
More substantively, depending on your point of view, the best teaching faculty in executive education after Harvard is No. 2 INSEAD, followed by No. 3. Chicago Booth, No. 4 IMD, and No. 5 University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. Darden, generally known as having the best teaching faculty in MBA education, was sixth, according to the FT survey data. And when it came to judging the caliber of one’s classmates, survey respondents were most pleased with the quality of their fellow students at Stanford, Harvard, IMD, INSEAD and Wharton.
To see the list of the world's top providers of executive education, according to the FT, check out PoetsandQuantsforExecs.com: