Alternative Business School Rankings

This is awesome: The Aspen Institute has released a survey of MBA programs, going beyond test scores and ranking them according to “how well schools are preparing their students for the environmental, social and ethical complexities of modern-day business.” [Full disclosure: A friend of mine worked on the report].

The rankings reward programs which are not only academically rigorous, but which impart upon their students values, ethics and a sense of social responsibility. Some of the findings:

• The percentage of schools surveyed that require students to take a course dedicated to business and society issues has increased dramatically over time, but at a slowing rate: 34% in 2001; 45% in 2003; 54% in 2005; 63% in 2007; 69% in 2009.
• Since 2007, the number of elective courses offered per school that contain some degree of social, environmental or ethical content has increased by 12%, from approximately 16.6 to 18.6 electives.
• The proportion of schools offering general social, environmental or ethical content in required core courses has increased in many business disciplines–Accounting, Economics, Finance, Management, Marketing, Operations Management–since the last survey in 2007.
• However, the percentage of schools requiring content in a core course on how mainstream business can act as an engine for social or environmental change remains low, at 30%.
• Approximately 7% of faculty at the surveyed business schools published scholarly articles in peer-reviewed, business journals that address social, environmental or ethical issues. The titles and abstracts of the 1,211 articles are available at

It’s a pretty cool report, and definitely worth checking out.

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3 comments for “Alternative Business School Rankings

  1. Bitter Scribe
    October 23, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    I hope at least some of the ethics stuff sticks.

  2. October 24, 2009 at 11:59 am

    When I was studying economics in college I had a number of professors who, despite my protestations, insisted that economics was a purely descriptive field rather than a prescriptive or normative one.

    This is, of course, demonstrably false but economists cling to this idea rather than being taken to task for the ills of the world.

    Business students have no such shield. One cannot make an argument that corporations are solely in the industry of describing the world around them. I’m troubled that these numbers are so low but not at all surprised.

  3. libdevil
    October 24, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    The purely descriptive thing is self-delusion, or outright lying. What they really mean is that when asked about a policy, they’ll hide behind weaselish constructions like, “Well, if you raise taxes, millions will die in poverty and filth. If you cut taxes, everybody will get a pony!” Note that the weaselish right-wing economist didn’t say that the policymaker _should_ cut taxes. She merely described what would happen in each scenario – totally non-judgmentally. An economist on the other side of the debate will look at the exact same scenario, and describe different conclusions, “Well, if you raise taxes, we’ll be able to buy everybody a pony! If you cut taxes, service cuts will mean millions will die in poverty and filth.” Again, the weaselish left-wing economist will say he’s just describing the possible outcomes, it’s up to the policymaker to choose between millions of deaths and lots of free ponies.

    The more honest ones reach a conclusion and actually make a recommendation or argument.

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