John Byrne of Poets & Quants reports Wednesday that Bloomberg Businessweek has revised its rankings of top MBA programs due to a calculation error that it is trying to keep quiet.
Byrne writes, “The magazine quietly revised its rankings online a month ago with little fanfare or notice. At the top of its corrected table, in small hard-to-read type is this rather vague, less-than-clear statement: ‘(Corrects to revise 2012 overall rankings, Ranking index and 2012 Intellectual Capital rankings following errors in the calculation of the Intellectual Capital score.)’
“Even BusinessWeek’s updated methodology does not acknowledge the mistake. Instead, the magazine simply crosses out part of the description of the methodology (see below).
“Even worse, the magazine had to admit that it had changed its methodology for ranking the intellectual capital produced by business schools without official notice or even a mention in an accompanying story describing the way it tabulates the results of academic research.
“In an email obtained by Poets&Quants, Bloomberg BusinessWeek Assistant Managing Editor Janet Paskin informed the schools last month that ‘we have discovered that some errors were made in calculating one element of the 2012 ranking, the intellectual capital score, which accounts for 10 percent of each school’s total score.’
“Paskin went on to describe the problem in more detail that the magazine has still failed to disclose to its readers. ‘In a recent review of last year’s intellectual capital rankings,’ she wrote, ‘we discovered errors in how we collected and tallied faculty research. We also realized that we had failed to update our stated methodology to reflect our current practice: Faculty are no longer awarded points for reviews of books they have authored, and the time period surveyed spans four years, not five.’ In response to a question on how the errors occurred, Paskin said in an email that ‘inn a few instances, changes in faculty names were missed; some articles were published online but not in print, and vice versa, and were missed.’
“The screwup by BusinessWeek resulted in some especially dramatic changes in the intellectual capital ranking given to some schools. Yale University’s School of Management, for example, zoomed up eight places to 9th from an inaccurate ranking of 17th. The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business plunged to 11th from fifth. Harvard Business School dropped 10 places to 19th from ninth. Rice University’s Jones School climbed to 21st from 27th. And Notre Dame moved up six places to 31st from 37th.
“All told, BusinessWeek admitted that ‘miscalculated intellectual capital scores’ were made by BusinessWeek for 40 American business schools and 10 international schools – a fact that was buried deep inside the email sent to the schools. The detail regarding the significant drops in intellectual capital rank was in the eighth paragraph of the ten-paragraph email written by Paskin. In journalism school, they call that ‘burying the lead.'”
Read more here. Byrne once oversaw BusinessWeek’s business school rankings.