Aspen Institute

Top B-schools opt out of ethics rankings

October 5, 2011: 10:43 AM ET

Five of the top 10 U.S. business schools have declined to participate in this year's Aspen Institute ranking of MBA programs' environmental and ethical impact. What gives?

By John A. Byrne, contributor

Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business was among several top business schools that opted out of the Aspen Institute's ranking.

(Poets&Quants) -- For Pat Palmiotto, a top administrator at the Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business, the decision not to cooperate with the Aspen Institute's Beyond Grey Pinstripes project was an agonizing one. But, in the end, she decided Aspen's biennial ranking that attempts to measure the "social, environmental and ethical impacts" of MBA programs just wasn't worth the trouble.

Palmiotto, executive director of Tuck's Allwin Initiative for Corporate Citizenship, wasn't alone. MIT Sloan and Duke's Fuqua School of Business also dropped out this year. They joined the Harvard Business School and Chicago Booth as non-participants in the survey, which was released Sept. 21.

In all, five of the top 10 U.S. business schools declined to participate, along with a large number of major business school players that include UCLA, Indiana, Minnesota, Purdue, Southern Methodist University, Brigham Young University, the University of Washington, Michigan State, and the University of Rochester.

Judith Samuelson, executive director of the Aspen's Business and Society Program, says the group is not concerned about the number of schools that have refused to participate in its survey. "We have 150 schools that do participate," says Samuelson. "For them, it's also a lot of work. They believe it's worth doing and many schools will tell you it has been instrumental in driving change in their business schools."

It's not clear how substantially different the Aspen ranking would look if all those schools were in it. Nonetheless, Stanford's Graduate School of Business came out on top this year, followed by York University's Schulich School of Business in Canada, IE University in Spain, Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business, and Yale's School of Management.

Five U.S. schools rounded out the top 10 in the Aspen survey, which ranks 100 global schools in all: Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management came in at No. 6, University of Michigan's Ross School of Business at No. 7, Cornell University's Johnson Graduate School of Management at No. 8, the University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School at No. 9, and UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business at No. 10.

A case of MBA rankings fatigue

For most schools that opt out, it comes down to two basic objections. For one, some B-school deans don't believe the ranking accurately reflects a school's commitment to social and environmental issues. That's largely because the ranking fails to take into account a school's extracurricular activities, institutes and centers, joint degrees and specializations in the environment, sustainability, ethics, or social issues. Aspen gathers this information but doesn't factor it into the rankings. More

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