Research shows the success of a bacterial community depends on its shape.
The 1998 "Best B-Schools" issue of Business Week (October 9) rated the Sloan School of Management's MBA program #1 in technology but gave the school an overall ranking of 15, down from #9 in 1996.
Sloan was third in median salary of graduates behind Harvard and Stanford, and tied for third with Carnegie Mellon in average job offers per graduate.
The ranking, according to Business Week, surveyed MBA program "customers" -- alumni/ae and recruiters. The class of 1998 was asked to complete a seven-page, mostly multiple choice survey with one page for comments. The results were combined with surveys of alumni/ae from previous years.
One factor contributing to the drop in overall rating was the frustration of recruiters not being able to hire Sloan students, who, according to Business Week, "spurned them for more entrepreneurial jobs." That movement, admitted Business Week, could have had an impact on ratings by typical corporate recruiters.
"I see this as a positive, not a negative," said Richard Schmalensee, interim dean at Sloan. "Sloan's fastest-growing and largest management track is product and venture development, and more Sloan students are moving into emerging industries and new firms. I am pleased that students are able to do so as well as follow more traditional paths."
However, the overall ranking, Professor Schmalensee said, is disappointing. "We believe it does not adequately reflect the quality of our students, faculty, staff, programs and alumni/ae. In addition, I believe that our alumni/ae ratings reflect the fact that recent classes have borne the lion's share of discomfort resulting from the tremendous growth and change at Sloan in the past several years," he said.
Most of the written comments from students, posted on the Business Week B-School web site, were positive. Said Professor Schmalensee: "It would be hard to write better advertising copy."
Sloan administration is using the survey to identify areas for improvement. "We should learn from this report," he said. "It suggests areas in which we can clearly improve, and making those improvements will be a priority for us."
The school is reevaulating the MBA core curriculum based on student-raised issues, and is working with MIT to develop plans for new and improved facilities.
Stanford dropped two spots in the ratings to #9, also due in part to more students taking jobs at startups. Harvard Business School was #5 and Wharton was #1 for the third time in a row.
The ranking is conducted every two years. Full results and stories are on the Business Week web site.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 21, 1998.