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How we did it

Business Standard 

The Indian Best Business Schools Survey draws its reputation and credibility from the methodology adopted for arriving at the ratings.

business author and business strategist once said “too many surveys are marketing campaigns in disguise”. Every year a handful of “India’s Best B-Schools” surveys are conducted by magazines and by television channels, besides a host of online polls on the subject. What makes The Indian Best Business Schools Survey the best and most reliable assessment of B-Schools?

Simply put, its objectivity and sheer scope. The Best Indian Business School Survey published in the Indian magazine is one of the oldest and the most reputed Business Schools surveys in the country, involving voluntary participation from B-Schools across the country. It draws its reputation and credibility from the methodology adopted for arriving at the ratings, and the profile of the institutes participating in the survey. 

If one were to compare the Indian Management survey with some others in circulation, you will immediately see what works in our favour. First of all, it is not a perception study like the one done by Business Today, a leading business magazine. The methodology involves a combination of voluntary self-audit by the participating institutes and third party scrutiny.

Participating institutes audit themselves on six parameters: Intellectual capital, admissions & placements, infrastructure, industry interface, governance and scale of operations. These parameters have been framed and vetted by industry leaders, and found to be most appropriate in evaluating a B-School. Each of these can be measured objectively, cutting out the scope for misrepresentation of data. 

In other words, nothing is left to interpretation.

Second, our methodology keeps “self-styled” B-Schools out of its purview. The Indian Management survey covers only those institutes that are recognised by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), an industry body. The other requirement is that at least two batches of students should have graduated from the campus. Most other surveys send out questionnaires to a pre-selected set of business schools and not to schools that function under the aegis of the institution established for planning and co-ordinated development of technical education system in the country.

Third, consider the rigueur that has gone into the research design. The participating institutes fill up the audit forms and send it back to our research agency The forms are mandated to be sent back with supporting documents, which are carefully examined for authenticity. Data across the years are compared and there are personal visits by auditors from across a random list of institutes.

Post this multi-tier scrutiny, the data is analysed with appropriate weights provided to each parameter, to arrive at a percentile score. Depending on the distribution of the percentiles and the number of institutes participating in the corresponding year, a segmentation exercise is done to create performance classes. The B-School survey is published in terms of these classes with a list of institutes that fall under each class mentioned in an alphabetic order.

This year we have done two things to make it more user friendly and comprehensive. The publication of the survey results has been brought forward keeping in mind the needs of its core users — the industry and the aspiring student community. More importantly, the methodology in arriving at the ratings has been refreshed to make the survey more robust and inclusive.

Change in methodology
First, the audit module has been refreshed to take into account the changing dynamics of the market. Each parameter was relooked and evaluated for relevance in the current times. Only those parameters were retained which capture the essence of an institute’s performance and some new parameters added. All in all, the final audit form is shorter, crisper, and more objective, which minimises ambiguity in responses.

The other key changes are:

  • Revision in the flow of the questionnaire to make it easier to fill it up;
  • Change in the weighting structure to take into account the churn in the parameters;
  • Inclusion of the Mandatory Disclosure as a compulsory submission with the form, and any reason for the deviation from the Mandatory Disclosure needed to be explained.

While the self-audit method of arriving at institute classification is a fairly robust method, we felt a need to increase the scope of the data in arriving at the ratings. The methodology was therefore expanded to include the views of other stakeholders in the B-School universe.

Within the stakeholder universe, we believe, that the aspiring student community would have less direct knowledge of the performance of the institutes. The industry, given its interaction with their alma mater and in the recruitment process, was found to be more appropriate for participation in the survey.

Industry participation could be through two ways, direct and indirect. The direct method was to collect the viewpoint of the recruiting community of various organisations who participate in campus recruitments, namely the talent managers. The indirect method was to reach out to the B-School graduates working in various organisations, and seek their opinion of the institutes they had considered for their B-School education. The organisations chosen for this purpose cut across a variety of sectors, ownership patterns, lines of business and size of business. The industry respondents were primarily recent alumnus of a management institute, and were selected across various functions. This two-pronged approach ensured a more robust set of final scores. These organisations were identified and selected from 20 cities across the length and breadth of the country.

As part of the industry module, a total of 985 alumni and 105 HR managers were personally visited with a pre-designed form, where they rated five to six institutes on various parameters. The alumni segment were not allowed to rate their own alma mater, to remove any bias. The industry module captured the ratings of the institute on parameters such as Faculty Quality, Student Quality, Student Diversity, Infrastructure Quality, among others.

Data for the two modules were analysed individually to arrive at two sets of scores — Audit Score and Industry Score. These scores were then merged with appropriate weights, to arrive at a final Institute Score. Post this, Performance Classes were created, and depending on the Institute Score, the institutes were bucketed in the appropriate Performance Class.

The approach used for this survey, therefore, merges the best of both worlds — self audit by the institutes, and an external rating by the industry. In other words, it’s a 360-degree method, covering the subject from all angles and stakeholders.

Of course, there is no single right method for every situation, but there can be a right starting point. Presenting The Indian Management Best Business Schools Survey 2011. A ready reckoner for both aspiring B-School students and recruiters with valuable insights to turbo-charge your quest for excellence.

First Published: Thu, May 12 2011. 00:35 IST