This year sees the publication of the eighth annual Financial Times survey of global non-degree executive education programmes.

This ranks open and customised programmes, and presents a combined ranking for business schools which offer both types of course.

All open programmes in the rankings last between three days and two months and are open to employees from any interested companies.

Customised programmes are tailor-made for companies that want to offer specific training or development to a group of their employees.

In the open stream of the survey 51 schools participated and 66 in the customised stream.

To be eligible to participate in the survey, a school must have had income of at least $2m from the relevant programme type during 2005.

For both rankings, the weightings of the first section of the table are determined by the level of importance that the respondents attach to various aspects of course provision.

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 surveys.

If a school has participated in the rankings for the past three years, its data are combined and weighted as follows: 40 per cent for this year’s data, 33 per cent for last year’s data and 27 per cent for data from the 2004 rankings.

The customised ranking is compiled from responses to two types of survey: a corporate client questionnaire – compiled from telephone interviews of top purchasers for each school – and an online survey of statistical data that is completed by each participating business school.

The data from the client questionnaire are used to compile the first 11 criteria in the table which make up 80 per cent of the school’s final score.

At the start of the customised programme surveying process, each school was asked this year to provide contact details for its top 12 clients.

These clients were then surveyed about the school which had nominated them (primary interview) and, if applicable, about a second school from which they had also purchased customised programmes over the past 12 months (secondary interview).

The customised programme questionnaire defines three categories programme 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.

Different weights are also assigned to questionnaires depending upon the seniority of the person responsible for the purchasing decisions, the size of the company and the number of schools which the purchaser has used for the course.

The customised programme client questionnaire asks the programme purchaser to rate various aspects of the programme on a 10 point scale, where one is “poor”, five is “average” and 10 is “excellent”.

The telephone interviews were conducted by Objective Research in March and April 2006 in English, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese.

In total, 557 customised programme purchasers were interviewed. Of these 54 also completed secondary interviews.

The sample size is higher than last year, when 445 customised programme purchasers were interviewed, of whom 60 completed secondary interviews.

The final six criteria in the customised ranking table are compiled using statistical data collected from the business schools.

These account for 20 per cent of the school’s final score in the table.

The open programme ranking is also calculated using data gathered from two types of surveys – a questionnaire completed online by open enrolment programme participants and a survey of statistical data submitted online by each participating business school.

The participant responses are used to compile the first 10 criteria in the table and, as with the other 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 groups of participants: those who took part in senior management programmes and those who participated in general management programmes.

Respondents completed their questionnaires in English, French, Spanish and Italian.

This year, 4,275 course participants responded to the survey. In 2005 a total of 3,925 participants responded.

Data from senior management and general management course participants were collated and calculations for each of the two data sets were conducted separately.

The results were then combined and a 50-50 weighting was applied to the sets.

Statistical data from the business school are used to calculate the final six criteria, which make up 20 per cent of the final ranking.

For the final ranking in both the surveys, 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 for all criteria in the ranking.

The schools’ z-scores for each of the ranking’s criteria are then weighted (see table key). The sum of the weighted z-scores across all criteria determines a schools final position in the ranking.

Additional research by Wai Chan.

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

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