Methodology: How to read the 2008 FT rankings

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This year marks the publication of the 10th 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, 55 schools participated in the open stream and 70 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.

The customised ranking is compiled using responses to two types of surveys; telephone interviews and an online survey completed by each participating school.

Business schools are asked for details of a number of top clients, who are invited to take part in a telephone interview about the school (primary interview). They can also give feedback about a second school they have used in the past 12 months (secondary interview).

The telephone interviews are conducted by a market research company, Objective Research. This year they were in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian and Mandarin.

Clients are asked to rate aspects of the programme on a 1 to 100-point scale: 1 is “poor”, 50 is “average” and 100 is “outstanding”.

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, 742 business school clients were interviewed and, of these, 41 also completed secondary interviews. Last year, 678 clients were interviewed.

The data gathered from the interviews 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 statistical 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 5,000 senior and general participants replied to the survey in 2008.

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 as follows: 55:45 if a school has participated for two years. If they have taken part every year 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.

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

Key to tables

Open-enrolment programmes

The first 10 criteria are based on feedback from course participants, the other six on a survey of the business schools. All criteria are presented in rank form, apart from women participants (%). The top school in each column is ranked number 1. Weights are in brackets.

Preparation (7.8) The provision of advanced information on programme content and the participant selection process

Course design (8.7) The flexibility of the course and appropriateness of class size, structure and design

Teaching materials (8.3) Contemporary and appropriate teaching materials and a suitable mix of academic rigour and practical relevance

Faculty (8.8) The quality of teaching and the extent to which teaching staff worked together to present a coherent programme

Quality of participants (8) The extent to which other participants were of the appropriate managerial/ academic level, the international mix and the interaction between participants

New skills & learning (8.8) The relevance of new skills to the workplace, the ease with of implementation and the extent that the course encouraged new ways of thinking

Follow-up (7.1) The level of follow-up offered and networking opportunities with other participants

Aims achieved (8.6) The degree to which expectations were met

Food & accommodation (6.5) The quality of food and accommodation

Facilities (7.4) The quality of teaching accommodation and IT and library facilities

Women participants % (2.0) The percentage of female participants

International participants (3.0) Amalgamates the percentage of participants from outside the business school’s base country and region (eg North America, Asia etc.)

Repeat business & growth (5.0) Amalgamates growth in income and percentage of repeat business

International location (3.0) Programmes run outside the business school’s base country and region

Partner schools (3.0) The quantity and quality of programmes taught in conjunction with other business schools

Faculty diversity (4.0) The mix of faculty by nationality and gender

Customised programmes

The first 11 criteria are based on feedback from executive education purchasers, the other five are based on a survey completed by each business school. All criteria are presented in rank form. The top school in each column is ranked number one. Weights in brackets.

Preparation (7.8) The level of interaction with the business school; the extent to which purchasers’ ideas were integrated into the programme; and the effectiveness of the school in integrating its latest research into the programme

Programme design (7.8) The flexibility of the course and the willingness of business schools to complement their own faculty with specialists and practitioners

Teaching methods & materials (7.3) Contemporary and appropriate teaching materials and a suitable mix of academic rigour and practical relevance

Faculty (7.7) The quality of the teaching and the extent to which staff worked together to present a coherent programme

New skills & learning (7.6) The relevance of new skills to the workplace, the ease with which they were implemented and the extent to which the course encouraged new ways of thinking

Follow-up (6.1) The level of follow-up offered after participants returned to their workplace

Aims achieved (7.9) The degree to which academic and business expectations were met and the feedback from individual participants

Food & accommodation (6) The quality of food and accommodation

Facilities (6.3) The quality of the teaching accommodation, IT and library facilities

Value for money (7.5) Purchaser’s rating, in terms of value for money, of the course design, teaching materials and food and accommodation

Future use (8.0) Purchasers were asked to rate the likelihood that they would use the same business school again and if they would use the same programme again

International clients (5.0) Amalgamates the percentage of clients headquartered outside the business school’s base country and region (e.g. North America, Europe, South America)

International participants (3.0) Custom programmes with participants from more than one country

Overseas programmes (4.0) Custom programmes that have been taught in more than one country

Partner schools (3.0) Custom programmes developed or taught in conjunction with other business schools

Faculty diversity (5.0) The mix of faculty by nationality and gender

A league of their own
Top 10s in selected customised enrolment categories
US schoolsEuropean schoolsValue for moneyProgramme design
1 Duke Corp. Education1 IMD1 Northwestern U: Kellogg1 Duke Corp. Education
2 Northwestern U.: Kellogg2 HEC Paris2 U. Wisconsin-Madison2 Northwestern U.: Kellogg
3 Harvard Bus. School3 Iese Bus. School3 Ipade3 Babson Exec. Education
4 Babson Exec. Education4 Ashridge4 Babson Exec. Education4 Columbia Bus. School
5 U. Chicago GSB5 Stockholm Sch. Economics5 U. Pennsylvania: Wharton5 Harvard Bus. School
6 U. Pennsylvania: Wharton6 SDA Bocconi6 UNC: KenanFlagler6 Thunderbird Sch. Glob. Mgt.
7 Thunderbird Sch. Glob. Mgt.7 Insead7 U. Chicago GSB7 HEC Paris
8 U. Wisconsin-Madison8 Cranfield Sch. of Mngmt8 Ibmec São Paulo8 U. Wisconsin-Madison
9 MIT: Sloan9 Esade Bus. School9 Harvard Bus. School9 U. Michigan: Ross
10 U. Michigan: Ross10 London Bus. School10 Emory U.: Goizueta10 IMD
New skills & learningFollow-upAims achievedFaculty
1 Duke Corp. Education1 Duke Corp. Education1 Duke Corp. Education1 Duke Corp. Education
2 Northwestern U: Kellogg2 Northwestern U: Kellogg2 Harvard Bus. School2 Babson Exec. Education
3 IMD3 U. Wisconsin-Madison3 IMD3 Harvard Bus. School
4 HEC Paris4 Edhec Bus. School4 Northwestern U: Kellogg4 Columbia Bus. School
5 Babson Exec. Education5 Essec Mngmt Education5 HEC Paris5 Thunderbird Sch. Glob. Mgt.
6 U. Michigan: Ross6 U. Texas, Austin: McCombs6 Columbia Bus. School6 Northwestern U.: Kellogg
7 U. Wisconsin-Madison7 SDA Bocconi7 Ipade7 IMD
8 Emory U: Goizueta8 HEC Paris8 Stockholm Sch. Economics8 U. Michigan: Ross
9 U. Chicago GSB9 Emory U: Goizueta9 ESCP-EAP Epn. Sch. Mngmt.9 Ipade
10 Ipade10 Esade Bus. School10 Babson Exec. Education10 HEC Paris


A league of their own
Top 10s in selected open enrolment categories
US schoolsEuropean schoolsQuality of participantsNew skills & learning
1 Harvard Bus. School1 IMD1 Harvard Bus. School1 Harvard Bus. School
2 U. Virginia: Darden2 IE Bus. School2 Stanford U. GSB2 UCLA: Anderson
3 Stanford U. GSB3 Iese Bus. School3 Columbia Bus. School3 Ipade
4 C. for Creative Ldrshp.4 London Bus. School4 U. Pennsylvania: Wharton4 U. Virginia: Darden
5 Columbia Bus. School5 Insead5 London Bus. School5 IE Bus. School
6 UCLA: Anderson6 SDA Bocconi6 IMD6 HEC Paris
7 U. Chicago GSB.7 Essec. Mngmt Education7 Insead7 Stanford U. GSB
8 U. Pennsylvania: Wharton8 HEC Paris8 MIT: Sloan8 Columbia Bus. School
9 Northwestern U.: Kellog9 ESCP-EAP Epn. Sch. Mngmt9 Northwestern U.: Kellog9 U. Chicago GSB
10 MIT: Sloan10 Cranfield Sch. Mngmt.10 U. Virginia: Darden10 Fundação Dom Cabral
Aims achievedFollow-upFoodAccommodation
1 Harvard Bus. School1 IE. Bus. School1 Stanford U. GSB1 IMD
2 Stanford U. GSB2 Queen’s Sch. of Business2 Northwestern U.: Kellogg2 Stanford U. GSB
3 U. of Virginia: Darden3 IESE Bus. School3 Harvard Bus. School3 U. Virginia: Darden
4 UCLA: Anderson4 Cranfield Sch. of Mngmt4 U. Virginia: Darden4 U. Chicago GSB
5 C. for Creative Ldrshp5 C. for Creative Ldrshp5 U. Wisconsin-Madison5 U. Wisconsin-Madison
6 IMD6 SDA Bocconi6 Duke U: Fuqua6 U. Pennsylvania: Wharton
7 U. Pennsylvania: Wharton7 Essec Mngmt Education7 Babson Exec. Education7 Babson Exec. Education
8 London Bus. School8 Ipade8 Columbia Bus. School8 C. for Creative Ldrshp
9 Columbia Bus. School9 Fundação Dom Cabral9 Queen’s Sch. of Business9 Fundação Dom Cabral
10 IE Bus. School10 Harvard Bus. School10 IMD10 Northwestern U.: Kellogg
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