Masters in management: evolution is essential in uncertain times

From heatwave and drought to conflict and famine, the past few months have proved apocalyptic for communities around the world. Business schools are coming under pressure to respond, as we report in this latest survey of the Masters in Management (MiM) diploma.

Russia’s war against Ukraine — like China’s threats over Taiwan — has provided a sobering reminder that politics can still trump economics, and that globalisation has limits. The fighting and related supply shortages are sparking global concerns over food security and adding inflationary pressures, as well as the threat of recession.

These factors are intensifying longer term strains from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic as well as climate change, both of which have been driven in large part by human activity. Industrialisation, deforestation and migration have changed disease infection patterns and increased fossil fuel emissions.

These challenges create rising demand for new skills, approaches and values by those teaching, researching and studying management alike. Some business schools are reacting directly, with few more on the frontline than the Kyiv School of Economics, which continues to function under the threat of attack while mobilising wider international support for Ukraine’s humanitarian crisis.

Ukrainian grain en route to Ethiopia. Supply chains have been heavily disrupted by the war © Hugh Rutherford/WFP/Getty Images

Institutions elsewhere have welcomed Ukrainian students and scholars, or forged partnerships to help jointly teach those who have been displaced by the conflict. On other important topics, notably around sustainability and the search for purpose and societal impact sought by Generation Z, many more are introducing changes to recruitment, curriculum design and operations.

FT Masters in Management ranking 2022 — top 100

Italy’s Luiss University rises 23 places in the FT MiM 2022 table

Find out which schools are in our ranking of Masters in Management degrees. Learn how the table was compiled and read the rest of our coverage at ft.com/mim.

Andrew Hill writes that while opinions are polarised on the purpose of business and there are many limitations to the existing framework of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors, there is growing pressure on leaders to rethink their roles beyond simply profit maximisation. That includes resilience, at a time of fresh attention to mental health and wellbeing at work.

In this report, we describe efforts by business schools to minimise carbon emissions from travel and publish a call from one academic for teachers, businesses and society to be more inclusive for those with disabilities — for social justice and economic reasons alike.

We interview students, who describe the value of their courses to learn collaboration, foster networks, interact with a diverse group, gain international exposure and acquire a wide range of skills. Suitably equipped, they pursue careers in the private, non-profit and public sectors, whether in well-established organisations or, increasingly, in start-ups.

One student, a refugee raised in Kenya, attended business school in Europe and now runs the Ethiopian operations of an African start-up. His story reflects the growing appetite to attract and equip an ever more diverse and mobile intake for technological and digital skills including business analytics and artificial intelligence.

Despite the disruption, demand for the MiM is strong. But there are changes in the flows of where students come from and their motivations, sparking reflection by business schools and driving innovation in pedagogy, partnerships and the creation of specialist diplomas and joint degrees.

As always, the FT’s ranking of MiM courses must be placed in context. It provides a snapshot of 100 of the leading providers around the world, ranked according to data from alumni and faculty on factors ranging from value for money to financial outcomes, and diversity of participants to sustainability.

All of the programmes assessed are of high quality, but they deserve detailed analysis. Some of the institutions listed offer a range of other masters that are not ranked, and those that are scrutinised encompass a broad variety of offerings by location, cost, class size, duration, styles of learning and specialisms taught.

The aggregated scores in the table provide a starting point, but readers should also examine the individual datapoints for each school (which can all be extracted, re-ranked and downloaded online, at rankings.ft.com) to explore the factors that matter most to them. As we describe in an article on the secrets of successful admission, applicants should conduct their own research — not least by talking to alumni.

We continue to explore new datapoints and weightings to help maintain our rankings as relevant and useful as possible. We also welcome suggestions and insights to sustain them as both a valuable guide to, and a driver of, reform in business education.

Andrew Jack is the FT’s global education editor