How to read the rankings

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This year marks the publication of the seventh annual Financial Times survey of international non-degree executive education programmes - a ranking of both open and custom programmes, as well as a combined ranking for business schools which run both types of courses.

The open programmes surveyed, courses open to all executives, last between three days and two months. Custom programmes are tailor made for companies that want to put their executives through specific training or development.

In the open survey 46 schools participated and 58 in the custom section of the survey. To be eligible to participate in each section of the survey, schools must have $2m worth of business in either open or custom programmes.

For both rankings, the weightings of the first section of the table are determined by the level of importance that the respondents attach to the various areas of the course and school. The weightings applied in the second section (the Business School Survey section) are decided by the Financial Times.

The ranking of the top schools, on the front page, is compiled from the average indexed score for schools ranked in both the open and the custom surveys.

If a school has taken part in the rankings for the past three years, its data are combined and weighted on a basis of 40 per cent for this year’s data, 33 per cent for last year’s data and 27 per cent for data from the 2003 rankings.

For the first time this year, schools that have participated for the past three years have been given a three year average rank.

The custom ranking is compiled from responses to two sets of questionnaires; the first is a client survey - compiled from telephone interviews of the top corporate purchasers - and the other is a survey of statistical data completed by the business schools. The data from the client questionnaire are used to compile the first 11 criteria in the table. These fields account for 80 per cent of the school’s final score.

At the start of the custom programmes surveying process, each school is asked to provide contact details for its top 10 clients.

They are telephoned and surveyed about the school which nominated them (primary interview) and, if applicable, about a second school from which they have also purchased customised programmes over the past 12 months (secondary interview).

Programmes are classified into three categories which are assigned different weights. These, in descending weight order, are:

■ Strategic: designed to determine and influence the strategy of the company.

■ Operational: delivered to general management on the operational aspects of the company.

■ Functional: relating to a specific function - for example, information technology, marketing, and so on.

We also assign higher weights depending upon the seniority of the person responsible for the purchasing decisions.

The client survey consists of questions which are rated on a one to 10 point scale, where one is “poor” and 10 is “excellent”. The telephone interviews were conducted by Objective Research in March and April 2005 in English, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese.

In total, 445 custom programme purchasers were interviewed. Of these 60 also completed secondary interviews. The sample size is higher than last year, when 400 custom programme purchasers were interviewed, of whom 58 completed secondary interviews.

The final six fields in the custom ranking table are compiled from data collected from the business schools survey. These account for 20 per cent of the school’s final score in the table.

The open programme ranking is also compiled from data gathered from two types of surveys - one questionnaire completed online by open enrolment programme participants and the other completed by the business school.

The participant responses are used to compile the first 10 criteria in the table and again, as with the custom table, the data gathered from course participants account for 80 per cent of the school’s final score.

Surveys for the open enrolment programme participants were distributed to two different groups of participants - those who took part in senior management programmes and those who studied on general management programmes. Respondents completed their questionnaires online and these surveys were available in English, French, Spanish and Italian.

Almost 4,000 (3,925) course participants responded to the survey.

Once the data were collated from the senior management and general management course participants, calculations for each of the two data sets were conducted separately and then the results from each stream combined, applying a 50/50 weighting.

The business school survey is used to calculate the final six criteria, which count for 20 per cent of the total weight.

For the final ranking in both the open and custom tables, all data points are converted to z-scores. Z-scores take into account the differences between each business school within the table and the distribution of scores between the highest and lowest scoring school in each of the table’s fields/criteria.

Each of the schools’ z-scores in each of the table’s fields are then weighted (see table key). The sum of the weighted z-scores across all criteria determines the final rank in the table.

Additional research by Ursula Milton

Market research for custom programmes by Objective Research, Eastbourne, UK. Database consultant Judith Pizer of Jeff Head Associates, Amersham, UK.

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