"That's the one thing I don't think anyone expected," says
Kurovsky, a former newspaperman who worked at Stanford when the
first surveys appeared. "They came out of nowhere, and no one
expected them to completely change the industry the way they
In fact, the "demigod-like character" of business-school rankings
forces all schools to change according to the rankings' measurement
criteria, says Dennis Gioia, who teaches at Penn State's Smeal
College of Business and has studied the surveys and their effects
extensively. "The quest to do well in the rankings now dominates
business school thought and action," Gioia writes in a research
report published in the Journal Academy of Management
Learning and Education.
Gioia's research shows that business school resources - money and
fundraising - have shifted toward MBAs and away from undergraduate
and PhD programs, because the magazine rankings typically zero in
on the MBA programs rather than the schools' other offerings.
Often, the best instructors are taken out of undergraduate
classrooms and reassigned solely to MBA programs. Researchers are
given short shrift. Money and staff once used to develop new
courses and improve facilities are committed to PR departments,
image consultants, and pretty brochures.
Meanwhile, because the surveys weigh schools according to how they
prepare students for jobs, business schools run the risk of
becoming glorified vocational schools. Some teachers are told not
to give low grades because student evaluations of their profs might
suffer - and the schools' rankings along with them. Some schools
emphasize internships, co-op programs, and "cookbook" vocational
skills. They even fawn over recruiters - some offer concierge
services, special meals, and valet parking to the corporate reps
who interview on campus.