I agree with Paul Danos that rankings are both controversial and important. Perhaps, however, they are too important to rely so much on media organisations which are there not only to ‘educate, entertain and inform’ - but also to sell newsprint and advertising space.
Many rankings contain useful information for prospective candidates but how many of these see further than the numerical list from 1 to 100? Even if they did so, there is insufficient information in most rankings for a serious candidate to make an informed choice. Given that many schools can be separated by just a few points, perhaps banding, such as that now adopted by the US National Research Council in their forthcoming assessment of Doctoral programmes would be more useful.
An honest broker would have to ask a couple of supplementary questions to the enquiry ‘Which is the best business school for me?’ Schools which specialise in developing entrepreneurs or taking many candidates from the public or not for profit sectors lose out considerably in most rankings. Additionally, most rankings are seen as business school rankings and they are not, they are attempts to rank programmes or, in the case of the MBA, parts of programmes (Full Time, Executive and Distance).
Having experience as Dean in both US and UK schools, I can testify to the fact that the differences between the management education styles in these two countries is not reflected in rankings currently, neither is the rich diversity of styles within Europe or the USA. More information in this area, evident in recent commentary by the Financial Times, would prove more useful to prospective candidates than a strict numerical rank.
There are so many rankings now that, apart from the resource needed to participate, how can perspective candidates sort the wheat from the chaff? Currently, none of these rankings are endorsed by bodies such as EFMD, AACSB, AMBA or GMAC. Perhaps by working more closely with these organisations, more credible, consistent and methodologically sound information could be produced.