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‘Numbers cannot capture personal experience’

Rankings are ‘crude instruments’ for nuanced choice, says Stanford B-school dean. Harvard ‘doesn’t focus’ on them. HT Education sought the reactions of the world’s top two premier B-schools’ to...

education Updated: Feb 06, 2013 14:44 IST
Ayesha Banerjee

The Financial Times 2013 global MBA rankings, out recently, had Harvard Business School (HBS) at the top slot after eight years, pushing down its arch rival, the Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB).

While placements, alumni recommendations, salaries etc are taken into account while working out the rankings, HT Education sought the reactions of the world’s top two premier B-schools’ to the numbers game.

“We find them (rankings) to be a crude instrument for a highly nuanced choice,” says GSB dean Garth Saloner. “We have yet to find a single, ordinal number that captures the intensely personal experience of an individual’s educational journey. This is contrary to the premise of most rankings, each of which measures a slightly different set of aspects of a complex and dynamic experience,” Saloner adds.

“We don’t focus on rankings,” says Brian Kenny, chief marketing and communication officer, HBS. Though rankings can serve a purpose as a reference point for prospective MBA applicants, Kenny says he “hopes they are just one of many guideposts used by students to determine where they will apply.” To make a truly informed decision, he advises, there is nothing as powerful as visiting a school, walking the campus and meeting with students, staff and faculty.

For Saloner, each school has a different culture and character. It is up to the student to find one that is best for them, based on how well a school’s offerings and characteristics match their needs. “When students find the programme that’s the right fit – often by visiting that university, engaging with its alumni, and learning about its resources and programmes – the choice becomes clear,” he adds.