"The great B-School ranking
- by S. Sathyan
We folks in B-Schools are highly excitable. Never is this
more in evidence than when the B-School ranking compiled by Outlook, Business
India et al are out. For those outside a B-School and wanting to be in at the
earliest, these rankings are a god-send that helps them in their decision-making
process. But for those who are in, these rankings are a mixed blessing. Let me
explain how things work in a B-school once the latest rankings are out and you
will know just why I call these rankings a mixed blessing.
As soon as the news is out that the rankings are out,
everybody who is somebody tries to get a copy of the magazine that has the
rankings. While B-Schools might not be oases of altruism in a desert of
selfishness, when it comes to these magazines, people are more than willing to
share their copies. And once a critical mass has gone through the rankings, the
real action begins.
The course of events after the initial silent perusal of the
magazine stage depends on whether the majority feel that the institute has been
wronged. Every B-School student has his own idea about where his school stands
in the pecking order. If the majority feels that his institute has been ranked
below what they consider to be their rightful place, then all hell breaks loose.
Of course, if the institute gets a better than expected ranking, happiness
reigns, but not eternally, as the next ranking could just as well deprive us of
our rightful place.
Suppose, we assume that the ranking has placed us below
expectations. So what you might ask? Especially, those of you outside the
B-Schools. All it means to us is that we might not apply to the B-School in
question, you say. But for us, insiders, it is not as easy as that. Inspite of
all that psychology we study as part of the curriculum, we are normal human
beings who need regular ego massage to keep our body and soul together. We, like
most others on this planet, look to the outside world for approval and
recognition. And these unfair rankings (at least as we perceive it) strike at
the very root of our ego satisfaction mechanisms.
So what do we do next? For one, we endlessly discuss the
ranking, the patent injustice meted out to our institute and the obvious
shortcomings of the methodology used in the ranking. In the mess, in the lecture
halls and in the library, this issue replaces quizzes, assignments and projects
as the hot topic. "What is happening to the world?" seems to be the common
refrain. Once all the obvious solutions to the mystery of the low ranking are
listed out, the creative junta begin to look for more implausible solutions.
Questioning the integrity of the magazine and/or the research agency is one
oft-used solution . We tend to look for any striking discrepancies in the
ranking( say a B-School that is known to be "not so good" from reliable sources
is ranked high), and since one or two of these are always present in most
rankings, we feel justified in our estimate of the perpetrators of the grossly
unfair crime (read low ranking).
By this time, condolence messages from friends, relatives and
well-wishers pour in and flood our mail boxes. This infuriates us further and we
mail back giving our views on the matter. Sometimes, we throw out dark hints to
make sure that everyone concerned understands that there is more to this than
meets the eye and also that there is dirty work afoot to tarnish the B-School's
One can remain angry for just so long. After that, calm and
peace descends. This is when we become rational, thinking beings again. The
animal in us that was aroused in the aftermath of the ranking goes back into the
deep recesses of the mind and we are human beings once again. Some soul
searching is done. The areas that need to be improved (We B-Schoolers never use
terms like weaknesses- avenues for improvement seems much more positive) are
dwelt upon in detail.
Slowly, the rankings fade out from our memory. We get back to
work. Faced with exams and project submissions that come and go with unfailing
regularity, we have no choice. The pace of B-school life gets back to normal.
Any stranger visiting the campus would most likely comment on the monotonous
routine that seems to engulf students here. Wait till the next rankings are out
is all I would say to him.