Interview with Jordi Díaz: “Our participants are in an environment that is more akin to that of a management board than to a university”
Why is everyone so interested in rankings these days?
To begin with, because the market asks for them. They provide information that is more and more decisive when it comes to choosing between one product/service and another. For example, in the training field they are a determining factor when it comes to discriminating among the wide range of programmes on offer in the market. It is hard to bring together all the information needed for this screening and that’s why rankings are a very useful tool – because they do do this for us. Today there are rankings for everything. And it’s logical, because in today’s hyperconnected age, in this very globalised environment, we want top-rate products and services regardless of where they are geographically. But I would add that appearing in the rankings –or being absent– actually positions you or de-positions you in your sector. Consequently, the strategy of all organisations today must take the relevant rankings into account.
What specific challenges do ranking pose for business schools?
The most important one is that they usually compare different schools and programmes based on a single criterion. In this atmosphere of “ranking fever”, we can observe that more and more rankings are mixing academic data with non-academic data. That’s why I always say that the most important thing isn’t the position you achieve, but the prestige and rigour of the ranking you are going to take part in. Based on this criterion, ten years ago EADA decided to participate in the rankings of the Financial Times and The Economist. Only schools who have obtained the accreditations of EQUIS (awarded by the EFMD) and AACSB (awarded by the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business) can take part in these rankings. This in itself is a filter that guarantees a certain level of quality and confirms our reputation and seriousness as an institution.
What is evaluated by the Financial Times and The Economist rankings?
Both rankings appraise academic institutions and their programmes based on participant satisfaction, career progression, quality, the presence of women, internationalisation and the percentage of faculty holding doctorate degrees. But these factors need to be analysed in context along with other factors that influence an institution’s rankings. For example, the salary that participants aspire to once they have completed a programme: we can’t compare the high salaries of executives in Asian countries with those paid here in Spain or in Latin American countries. It is also important to consider the importance that rankings tend to give academic research, as opposed to applied research. At EADA, we emphasise applied research because we believe it has a more positive impact on our students’ learning, a philosophy that may not reflect positively in the rankings.
What about EADA’s focus on leadership and managerial skills in general that address the new demands of the market.
Definitely. For example, at EADA the rankings do little to highlight what we believe is one of the strongest aspects of our programmes: the strong focus on leadership and managerial skills that addresses the demands of today’s global market. From day one, our “learning by doing” methodology makes participants leaders of their own development. This, combined with specific managerial skills modules that take place at the Collbató Residential Training Campus create an environment that is more akin to a management board than a university. There are just 30 students in a class, and small group work is focused on making strategic decisions with classmates from all over the world with diverse academic backgrounds. In the classroom, students constantly put theory into practice because that’s what companies will demand of them after graduation.
Would you agree that Barcelona –along with Paris and London– continues to be one of the most attractive cities for international students looking for a master or an MBA?
At EADA, we see Barcelona’s reputation as a definite positive. We are pleased to share the city with two other top-ranked, accredited business schools (ESADE and IESE), as together, we can attract top international talent. Rather than regarding these institutions as competition, we recognise an opportunity for collaboration and a joint goal to reinforce the privileged position of Barcelona.