LIKE its survey of the region’s best universities, Asiaweek magazine has stopped its survey of the best Master of Business Administration (MBA) schools due to “editorial reasons.”

Unlike in the survey of best multi-disciplinary schools, the Philippines posted a better performance in the MBA schools’ survey. The Asian Institute of Management (AIM), University of the Philippines’ (UP) College of Business Administration and De La Salle University’s (DLSU) Graduate School of Business participated in this survey. The Ateneo Graduate School of Business was invited but did not participate. UST was excluded from the survey.

New Economy

Last year, Asiaweek introduced its MBA survey to assess Asian MBA programs and to see how emerging Asian economies are coping with global economic challenges.

In making its survey, Asiaweek rated MBA schools based on the demands of the New Economy. This factor, according to the magazine, altered the way Asian business schools think and teach as it included e-commerce in their teaching modules.

The magazine invited 82 schools to join but only 53 institutions participated. The magazine asked eight international schools and 130 Asian companies to rank the schools based on academic reputation, Best Full-Time, Best Part-Time, and Best Executive MBA categories.

The first MBA survey assessed these schools in terms of academic reputation (20 percent), and 30 other attributes, such as student selectivity, faculty resources, and linkages with corporations and government.

The Best Full-Time grade is based on students with a full load each term while attending on-campus classes. The Best Part-Time MBA is based on students enrolled in a part-time program taking partial load each term while attending on-campus classes during evenings and weekends. The Best Executive MBA is ranked based on working managers or CEOs’ who are taking time-off to attend classes tailored for them.

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AIM ranked first the in Best Executive MBA category and third in Best Full-Time criterion and in academic reputation. UP placed 10th in Best Part-Time MBA category, and 24th in Best Full-Time criterion and in academic reputation. DLSU was 24th in Best Part-Time MBA category and 29th in academic reputation.

Flawed too

Like the multi-disciplinary schools survey, the MBA survey is also flawed, said Prof. Gerardo Agulto, Jr., MBA program director of the College of Business Administration of UP Diliman. He explained a high premium is given to practicing faculty members.

“The graduate business education is graduate education. We are an academic institution. Any and every endeavor will have to adhere academic standards. And part of these is that we have a teaching staff that is fully academically qualified,” he explained.

Agulto stressed that one of the strengths of a reputable institution is its full-time faculty. Unlike the part-time faculty, who try to balance teaching and work, full-time faculty concentrates on their academic duties.

He also observed that the survey considered the salary received by a faculty member, but did not include benefits and other forms of compensation.

While the multi-disciplinary schools’ survey counted the research output of students and faculty as a criterion, the survey did not consider the research output of graduate business schools, Agulto added.

If this was included, it could add to the percentage points of participating schools, particularly those whose works had been published by a reputable academic journal.

Agulto said the survey assumed that students of these institutions are already globally competitive. However, it did not consider that some schools are incapable of providing their students such “world-class” training because of their scarce resources.

“We can produce people who will be (better) if we could bring them abroad. Pero kung hindi mo kayang gawin `yun, what is the best thing to do? Make them good in Manila, Davao, or Cebu (the country’s commercial capitals),” he explained.

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The survey also failed to consider the institution’s environment and its capacity to provide its students the knowledge and training they need, Agulto added.

Aside from these, the Asiaweek surveys did not distinguish the government-funded from the private-run institutions. Because of this, private schools readily have an edge in the survey’s financial resources criterion.

Re-engineering

The MBA survey made the participating institutions realize the need to upgrade and dovetail their program to the Asian markets’ present and future needs.

But it did not give much weight on e-commerce courses offered by advanced business schools since, according to Asiaweek, it is a new market concept not fully integrated in Asian schools’ curriculum.

Agulto said there is nothing really new about e-commerce except that it has been introduced as a new marketing strategy facilitated by advanced technology.

The UP-MBA program includes e-commerce in its special topics category and not as a regular course. The concept is treated as a marketing course that uses a medium other than conventional marketing.

Based on Asiaweek’s standard for MBA schools, both UST and UP agree that offering electives, accepting managers and CEO students, and improving facilities, can upgrade MBA programs. It will also help make the country at par with more stable Asian economies.

In an article published in Read.Me Files, the official newsletter of UST Graduate School (USTGS), Dean Dr. Lilian Sison said she aims to upgrade the University’s MBA program and make it world-class.

Using the criteria set by Asiaweek in assessing the region’s MBA schools, USTGS will re-engineer its MBA program by hiring practitioners who will integrate on-field expertise and academic theories in participative classroom discussions.

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Sison also hopes to revive team-teaching, a system where a faculty member will handle the MBA course and team-teach it with a business executive or a CEO.

A non-thesis MBA program is also being conceptualized to help business executives and entrepreneurs earn their master’s degree and to equip them with the scholastic qualification to teach.

Impressions

Meanwhile, academic officials welcomed the news that Asiaweek had discontinued its controversial surveys and took that as an admission that the surveys’ method was flawed.

The Asiaweek survey influenced and created impressions among Asian and Western schools and corporations, – impressions that might not stand on valid grounds, Agulto said.

“May epekto ang surveys. To what extent should we be influenced by impressions? The impressions that are brought about by the survey are of course impressions and before we make conclusions about them, `yan ba ang full and unadulterated truth?” Agulto said.

UST Rector Fr. Tamerlane Lana, O.P. said the magazine should conduct its survey periodically to give participating schools time to chart more realistically change.

True enough, Asiaweek later admitted that they halted the 2001 surveys since they observed that the institutions did not show any significant change over 12 months.

Although the yardsticks used were skewed in favor of high-profile institutions, the surveys still honored excellence, and cited areas of improvement to give participating schools room for their development.

Asiaweek held out the possibility it would resume the surveys.

“We are keeping our options open on revisiting Asia’s higher institutions of learning to see how they have transformed themselves since our last survey,” the magazine said. Ma. Lynda C. Corpuz

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