Beyond Grey Pinstripes Ranking: R.I.P.

October 04, 2012

Bloomberg Businessweek

Anyone eagerly awaiting next year’s ratings of business school sustainability offerings, the Aspen Institute’s Beyond Grey Pinstripes ranking, is going to be disappointed. After a number of top business schools declined to participate in the 2011 survey, the organization is getting out of the business school rankings business, at least for the foreseeable future.

In a letter sent to participating schools in March—which apparently has flown under the radar—the Aspen Institute said it was time to “shift gears and pursue new ways to influence business education.”

The Aspen Institute says the widely followed ranking has merely been “suspended” because the list, first published in 1999, could get resurrected, says Laurie Ginsberg, senior program manager of the institute’s Business & Society Program. “We’re committed to the space,” she says. “It’s one of our levers to align business with what’s good for society.”

The organization’s decision comes at a time when many schools offer courses on sustainability and corporate social responsibility—149 participated in the 2011 Beyond Grey Pinstripes ranking—and Aspen’s departure leaves a major void. Few surveys measure the social, environmental, and ethical impact of MBA programs, and none do it with the authority of the Beyond Grey Pinstripes ranking, which was based on a detailed review of each school’s curriculum and faculty research. Ginsberg concedes as much, but says those who want to know about MBA programs that are strong on sustainability can look at previous rankings and other features on the Aspen Institute’s website to find out about innovative initiatives.

Aspen’s pull-out leaves a further void: For some schools, it was one of few major rankings that gave them a shot at placing near the top. In September 2011, when the Stanford Graduate School of Business reclaimed its No. 1 spot, it ousted the Schulich School of Business at York University (No. 9 in Bloomberg Businessweek‘s 2010 ranking of international full-time MBA programs). But George Washington University, Portland State, and the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business all landed in the top 15—foreign territory for all on the B-school rankings of major media outlets.