The Entrepreneurship Enigma of Business School rankings

The Entrepreneurship Enigma of Business School rankings

You want to choose the right school for your MBA, so what do you do? you look at the rankings. They tell you just about everything, except how schools are doing on Entrepreneurship. I mean how they are really doing. So I suggest that the Rankers listen up and also start including this in the ranking, and here is why.

Enigma defined

Oxford defines enigma as: “A person or thing that is mysterious or difficult to understand”. An enigma is an absence of something, something missing, an absence of full understanding. In my opinion, the role of entrepreneurship is misunderstood in business school rankings. Right now it seems as though it is not valued at all.

Once I finished my MBA (at IESE Business School) I started receiving the survey for the MBA rankings. These rankings ask you all kinds of stuff, all the way from your studies to what you are doing after. However as a funded entrepreneur I never felt that these surveys were really capturing my profile nor those of other class mates that started businesses.


Rankings don’t list a lot of data on the entrepreneurial endeavors of its students. Forbes for example, lists job categories and has one called “other” but none for entrepreneurs. The Financial Times seems to show the most data on each school. They even list a survey of “aims achieved by taking the MBA”. Under this survey it lists a “started my company” option in their alumni profiles section. This is already helpful if you are looking for an entrepreneurial MBA program, but you need more information to make a good decision. None of the other rankings (Business Week, Economist and Forbes) show any data on entrepreneurial activity at all.


So why should entrepreneurship be part of the rankings?

Entrepreneurship is the engine of the economy. It is about creating jobs instead of destroying them. Successful entrepreneurs are among the most talented and well connected individuals out there. Successful entrepreneurs bring a lot to the Business School in terms of network, skills and even capital. But even more so, more and more aspiring MBAs are interested in creating companies. So they deserve to know which school is best for that.

So it’s important to know if the school has been successful in the past and if it produces entrepreneurs. Because if that’s what you want, then you want to go to the place that is the most “entrepreneur friendly”. Including entrepreneurship in the Business School rankings would also remove an important group of alumni from the “other” categories in the post-MBA jobs and give them a real identity.


Measuring entrepreneurship

Now that we’ve established that a) entrepreneurship is important to know about and b) it’s currently not included in the rankings, how do we rank schools? What could be measured as part of an overall Business School’s ranking position regarding entrepreneurship? Well I am no expert but here are some thoughts:

  • % of students that actually start a company during the MBA. This could be backed up by a scan of a legal doc or something: How many of the students actually start companies,
  • % of students working full time in their own business 1 year after graduation,
  • Capital raised by students: This shows if investors actually feel like the businesses started by students make sense,
  • Number of jobs created by student-funded companies,
  • Presence of an Angel investor network: Could be by capital invested or number of investments. Again this shows if investors swarm around the school or not,
  • Availability of school VC fund: This again shows that the school takes entrepreneurship seriously. It could be measured by the school fund size and number of investments,
  • Faculty support to student-entrepreneurs (can students receive credits for entrepreneurial projects?).


So now you know why I think entrepreneurship is the enigma of business school rankings, its relevance is not fully understood by those who make the rankings.

Do you agree that entrepreneurship should be ranked? How would you measure it?

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