Does academic research help or hurt MBA programmes?
Academic research has not only positive long-term effects on recruiters’ and
applicants’ perceptions and on the schools’ education performance with current
students. Tuck School of Business professor explores relationship between
faculty research and overall MBA performance.
Since the 1960s, scientific academic research has played a prominent role in most
leading business schools. Over the past decade, however, critics have argued that
research is a distraction and may only serve the faculty’s interest at the ex-
pense of students and other business school constituents.
A study carried out by Tuck School of Business professor Peter Golder and co-
author, Debanjan Mitra, of the University of Florida, counter this widely-held
view in their article “Does Academic Research Help or Hurt MBA Programmes?” pub-
lished in the Journal of Marketing. They looked at the relationship between re-
search done by faculty members and overall MBA performance in 57 American business
schools over 18 years.
Findings demonstrate that academic research has positive long- and short-term ef-
fects on academics’ perceptions and long-term effects on recruiters’ and appli
cants’ perceptions and on the schools’ education performance with current students.
A persistent increase of three single-author articles per year can improve a
school’s ranking among academics by one place, a decline in its acceptance rate of
1 percent, and an increase in graduates’ average annual starting salary of more
While other researchers have focused on short-term correlational analysis when ex-
ploring this issue, Golder and Mitra looked at how student quality (as measured by
test scores, GPAs or salaries) and faculty quality (as reflected by teaching or
publications) were affected by faculty research. They also looked at the correla-
tion between research and the school’s place in rankings.
“The thing that surprised most people, including me, was that research seemed to
be having an increasingly important impact on recruiters’ perceptions,” said Gol-
der. “We weren’t so surprised that the impact is there, but the fact that it’s
been increasing. There are some easy ways to explain it: some of the rankings them
selves are more often including a research component – BusinessWeek has its inte-
llectual capital, the Financial Times has some research components.”
Based on their results, the researchers urge schools to lengthen the tenure of
their deans so as to provide incentives based on long-term performance and to acti-
vely promote faculty research to students, recruiters and reporters.
Video of Peter Golder talking about his research: