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HBS Humbled by Lackluster Ranking

Wall Street Journal ranks HBS 14th based on corporate recruiter surveys

Harvard Business School may want to consider adding a case study in humility. Despite its four-year run as the top business school according to U.S. News and World Report, HBS ranked 14th for the second year in The Wall Street Journal.

The Journal/Harris Interactive ranking is based on surveys of corporate recruiters. Recruiters were asked to rank business schools based on 21 attributes, including MBA students’ communication skills, teamwork orientation, and personal integrity.

The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business nabbed the number one spot ahead of the Tuck School at Dartmouth, which had topped three of the Journals’s past six annual rankings. HBS placed eighth when the Journal first debuted its rankings in 2001.

According to the Journal, prestigious business schools like Harvard and Stanford did not rank in the top ten despite the schools’ academic prowess.

According to the Journal, “academic quality isn’t the primary concern of most survey respondents.”

“While recognizing the brainpower of their students and faculty, recruiters complain that they often find graduates of some of the most prestigious institutions more arrogant and less collegial than the MBAs they meet at other schools,” the article stated.

But many HBS students said they were shocked by the Journal’s assertion that they do not work well together.

“I never noted any deficiencies among interpersonal skills among people here,” said Keith A. Melker, a second year MBA student and president of the HBS Student Association. “I would think that is the strongest quality of people over here.”

James E. Aisner ’68, HBS spokesman, added that the school’s reliance on the case method—in which real-life examples of business problems form the basis of class discussions—requires student teamwork.

“I think a lot of these observations about arrogant students or an inability to work in teams are stereotypical at best, and at worst, untrue,” said Aisner.

According to the Journal, recruiters tended to give lower scores to career service offices at large elite schools.

HBS maintains strict guidelines for campus recruiters, and some students said that the limited access to students may have lowered recruiters’ rankings.

“HBS goes out of its way to protect its students, which I think in some respects is not very good for recruiters,” said Chistopher L. Grashoff, a second year MBA student. “They have to jump through a lot of hoops to recruit here.”

Despite its 14th placement nationally, HBS topped two separate lists—one for most practical curriculum and one for best school to find a potential CEO.

—Staff writer Madeline W. Lissner can be reached at mlissner@fas.harvard.edu.

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