What’s Really Wrong With U.S. Business Schools?

A research paper entitled “What’s Really Wrong with U.S. Business Schools” shines a light on what has become a growing dilemma for business school deans-the yearly scorecard that assigns numerical rankings to selected business programs. The paper describes a “dysfunctional competition for media rankings that leads schools to divert resources from investment in knowledge creation and other important areas to short-term strategy aimed at improving ranking position.”

The paper is written by Harry DeAngelo and Linda DeAngelo, business professors at the University of Southern California, and Jerold L. Zimmerman, business professor at the University of Rochester. It criticizes business schools for “failing to practice what they preach, particularly about the dangers of managing for the short term, but also about the importance of searching for […] substance over form in business practices.”

The writers point out that “Rankings mania also leads business schools to distort MBA curricula with ‘quick fix, look good’ changes that enhance program marketability at the expense of providing students with a rigorous, conceptual education that will serve them well over their entire careers. This myopic and frenzied rankings competition has generated proposals (e.g., Bennis and O’Toole, Harvard Business Review, 2005) that would further de-emphasize the scientific research that is the source of U.S. business schools’ global competitive advantage …”

The study precedes an upcoming AACSB International report that calls for the media to change the way it assigns rankings to business degree granting institutions. The AACSB document, to be released in September, calls the ranking methods used by BusinessWeek, Financial Times, U.S. News & World Report, and other media outlets flawed because of inconsistent and unverified data, which confuses rather than helps the consumer. [AACSB annotation]

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