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May 11, 2009 2:16 am

Methodology: How to read the 2009 FT rankings

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This year marks the publication of the 11th annual Financial Times survey of non-degree executive education programmes.

The survey includes three business school rankings: of schools which offer open enrolment programmes, those offering customised programmes, and a combined table featuring schools ranked for both.

Open programmes are open to employees from any company or organisation. Those included here last for at least three days.

Customised programmes are tailor-made for organisations that want to offer specific training to employees.

This year, 60 schools participated in the open stream and 78 in the customised stream. To be eligible, a school must have had income of at least $2m from the programme type during the previous year.

For the customised ranking, business schools are asked for details of a number of top clients, who are invited to complete an online survey (primary survey). They can also give feedback about a second school they have used in the past 12 months (secondary survey).

This ranking is compiled using data from two sets of surveys; one is completed by the clients and the other by the business schools.

Surveys are distributed in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Mandarin.

Clients are asked to rate aspects of the programme on a 1 to 10-point scale: 1 is “poor” and 10 is “excellent”.

Furthermore, the Financial Times defines three categories of customised programme, which are assigned different weightings. In descending order these are:

• Strategic: designed to determine and influence the strategy of the company;

• General: delivered to management on operational aspects of the company;

• Functional: relating to a specific function – for example, marketing.

Different weightings are also assigned to questionnaires according to the seniority of the person responsible for specifying the programme, the size of the company, and the number of business schools the client has used for customised programmes.

In total, 838 business school clients completed the survey. The data gathered are used to assess the first 11 criteria on the table. These make up 80 per cent of the school’s final score. The other five criteria in the customised ranking are compiled using the statistical data supplied by the business schools.

The open enrolment ranking is also calculated using data gathered from two types of surveys: an online questionnaire completed by programme participants and a survey of data supplied by participating schools.

Online questionnaires are distributed in English, French, Spanish and Italian to two groups of participants: those who took part in senior management programmes, and those who participated in general-level management programmes.

More than 5,600 senior and general participants replied to the survey in 2009.

After the online questionnaire closes, data gathered from the senior and general level participants are collated. Calculations for the two data sets are completed separately and the results are then combined using a 50/50 weighting.

These results are used to compile the first 10 criteria of the open ranking and account for 80 per cent of the school’s final score. The data from the business school are used to calculate the other six criteria.

For both rankings, calculations for the first section of the table include data (collected from participants or clients) from previous years, where applicable. The weightings are 55:45 if a school has participated for two years. If they have taken part for three years, the weighting is: 40:33:27.

To create the final rankings, results from the various calculations are converted into Z-scores. These take into account the differences between each business school and the distribution of scores between the highest and lowest scorers.

The schools’ Z-scores for each of the criteria are then weighted.

The weightings for the first section of the table are determined by the level of importance that respondents attach to each criterion. The weightings applied in the second section (statistical data collected from the schools) are decided by the Financial Times.

The sum of the weighted Z-scores determines a school’s overall position. The ranking is calculated on the basis of the average Z-score for schools that appear in both rankings.

Additional research by Database Consultant Judith Pizer of Jeff Head Associates, Amersham, UK.

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