Michigan has retaken the top spot this year. But the winner's circle also includes two newcomers.
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[Quoted from Wall Street Journal]
The lead in The Wall Street Journal/Harris Interactive ranking of America's top National business schools seesawed again this year, with the University of Michigan reclaiming the No. 1 spot from Dartmouth College.
Michigan and Dartmouth are clearly the schools to beat, with Dartmouth having achieved a first-place finish in three of the Journal's six annual rankings and Michigan now having scored two wins. (The University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School is the only school that has succeeded in besting Dartmouth and Michigan.)
Our other two rankings produced some surprises, as two less prominent newcomers placed first in the Regional and International categories. Arizona's Thunderbird moves up from No. 4 last year in the ranking of regional U.S. schools, while ESADE in Barcelona, Spain, leads a group of European, North American and Central American schools in the International ranking.
Michigan owes its first-place showing in part to its emphasis on practical experience in its M.B.A. program. Recruiters say they prize Michigan graduates because they can connect theory with practice. As for Thunderbird and ESADE, they share an international focus and even happen to be partners through a dual-degree program of study at both schools.
A commitment to ethics and corporate social responsibility also distinguishes all three of the top-ranked schools -- from Michigan's student projects in developing countries to ESADE's "Christian humanism" tradition of management education to the oath of ethical conduct signed by Thunderbird graduates.
Looking Beyond Academics
The three rankings measure how appealing business schools are to the corporate recruiters who hire their M.B.A. graduates. What differentiates each ranking is the type of recruiters the schools attract. But the ratings of all 85 schools across the three rankings are based on how recruiters evaluated them on the same 21 attributes, as well as the recruiter's intention to return and hire a school's graduates over the next two years. In addition, the rankings include a "mass appeal" factor, which is the number of recruiters that the National and Regional schools attract. For the International ranking, the mass-appeal measure was changed this year so that schools can qualify for it only if they attract recruiters who place a large number of their graduates in jobs outside the U.S.
Harris Interactive conducted the online survey of 4,125 recruiters (up from 3,267 respondents in 2005) from Dec. 13, 2005, to March 16, 2006 -- with respondents rating only schools where they said they had recent recruiting experience. To qualify for any of the three rankings, a school had to receive at least 20 recruiter ratings.
The rankings aren't necessarily a reflection of the schools with the most celebrated academic reputations. Although the 21 attributes include the curriculum and faculty, academic quality isn't the primary concern of most survey respondents. Instead, they care most about the M.B.A. students' interpersonal and communication skills, teamwork orientation, personal ethics and integrity, analytical and problem-solving abilities, and work ethic.
That helps explain why some of the most renowned schools, such as Harvard and Stanford, don't rank as highly in the survey as their academic stature might suggest. While recognizing the brainpower of their students and faculty, recruiters complain that they often find graduates of some of the most prestigious institutions more arrogant and less collegial than the M.B.A.s they meet at other schools. Some of the large, elite schools also don't seem to enjoy as many close, personal relationships with recruiters as smaller M.B.A. programs do, and their career-service offices tend to receive lower scores for customer service.
Overall, the survey respondents appeared happier with the schools this year, giving generally higher ratings on the 21 attributes and indicating that they plan to continue recruiting at the same schools. More than half of the recruiters said they believe the quality of M.B.A. graduates is the same or better today compared with past years.
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