The influence of media rankings on US full-time MBA programs and their stakeholders

Stephanie J Finney


This study explores the impact of media rankings on US higher education institutions and their stakeholders within the context of full-time MBA programs. The first of a two-part documentary analysis examined the marketing materials of 58 ranked full-time MBA programs and found that rankings ?��Ǩ��mattered?��Ǩ�Ѣ enough to the majority to dedicate a space on their websites to their ranking results. Results were creatively presented so as to seem as highly ranked as possible, particularly by lower ranked programs, which may indicate that they are more influenced by rankings than their more highly ranked counterparts. The second part of the study, which analyzed the ranking websites of BusinessWeek, Financial Times and US News & World Report, found that while each claimed to offer a list of the 'best' business schools, they instead each measured different fragments of the educational experience. Indicators related to employment and customer service were universally prioritized over those related to teaching, learning, and diversity. Based on these findings, decisions based upon rankings could be made using inadequate or unrepresentative information. Findings also indicated that a self-perpetuating cycle was at work within the construction of rankings, solidifying their ability to influence and homogenize general conceptions of what constitutes a quality educational experience while normalizing their own procedures. As a result, without a largely collective effort on the part of institutions to pressure for changes in construction, media rankings are likely to continue to be a force of influence upon HEIs and their stakeholders.

Full Text: PDF

Editor-in-Chief: Prof Norbert Pachler
UCL Institute of Education, University College London
ISSN 1746-9082

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