More European schools than ever feature in the top 10 of the 2012 ranking, hinting at a shift in the transatlantic balance. The International Institute for Management Development, better known as IMD, in Lausanne, Switzerland, heads the table of 65 business schools offering open-enrolment programmes. It is up three places from 2011.

Open enrolment programmes are typically short, intensive executive leadership development courses. The FT ranking is based on 16 criteria, 10 of which are compiled from a survey of the participants, and six from a survey of the schools.

IMD dethrones Spain’s Iese Business School, which drops to fourth place, while US institutions Harvard Business School, second, and Thunderbird School of Global Management complete the top three. The University of Chicago in the US and Insead in France also performed very well in 2012, jumping 10 and eight places respectively to enter the top 10 in sixth and 10th positions

IMD has ranked consistently near the top in the last five years. This year it has beaten its previous best placing of second in 2009 thanks to the high scores given by the participants. Notably, the school tops the ranking for the quality of participants, the level of follow-up offered to participants after they have returned to work and the quality of the facilities. Martin Kaufmann, a general manager at Aveda Corporation, who attended a course in March 2011, commented that “the participant engagement and interaction were very high, and faculty and participants were of the highest calibre, all in a very effective, personal and pleasant setting”.

The rise of Europe's elite schools

While IMD scores well on the other criteria in the survey – it is among the top 10 in each of these – it is clear from responses to the FT that participants value highly IMD’s focus on empathy and the emotional intelligence aspect of leadership. “The focus was on emotions and personal development more than on business cases. I learned a lot about myself,” says one participant

IMD is the second European school after Iese to reach the top spot and the fourth new number one school in four years, showing how competitive open-enrolment executive education is.

The top spot used to be the preserve of US schools. Apart from Harvard, which was ranked top seven times, US schools tend to score lower for international participants, the number of programmes run outside their country or regions and the quantity of programmes taught in conjunction with other business schools. Nonetheless, US schools remain very successful, with 11 ranked among the top 25.

Get alerts on Business education when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2022. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window) CommentsJump to comments section

Follow the topics in this article