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Researching the best

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  • As well as teaching, business schools build reputations on research
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By Peter Walker for CNN
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Why is a university good? Because it is good at teaching? Well, there is a lot more to it than that, particularly one aspect sometimes neglected when students assess potential institutions -- research.

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Examing the results: Research -- of a different kind -- is vital for business schools

The importance of research, especially at business schools, cannot be overstated. Why? Because, in the simplest terms, top quality faculty research equals a top quality faculty. And that is good news for any potential student.

There is also more to it. For example, the presence of a truly outstanding academic figure producing world-beating research and original thinking at a business school acts as a beacon, a sign that this is an institution for the best students and staff to aspire to.

Thus, the fact that the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business can boast among its faculty C.K. Prahalad, the guru of corporate strategy who was voted last year the world's most influential business thinker -- beating Bill Gates and Alan Greenspan -- brings it enormous recognition.

So, away from the obvious presence of a billboard name like Prahalad, how can a potential students assess a school's research excellence?

This is where a specialized set of rankings produced by the School of Management at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) comes in.

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Newly updated, the league tables attempt to rank the top 100 business schools in the U.S., and also worldwide. They use data gathered from 24 leading business journals based in every major business discipline, assigning one point to a school for a sole-authored article by a faculty member and a fraction of that for each joint author.

Schools are ranked by their final score, although the absolute number of articles in which their faculty had a part is also listed. The latest rankings take in articles from 2003 to 2007, while there is data going back to 1990.

The top-ranked school is no surprise -- the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, which recently topped the Financial Times global MBA table for 2008. Other leading US schools, among them Harvard, Columbia and the University of Chicago's Graduate School of Business, fill the rest of the top 10 with the first non-U.S. entry at 13, French/Singaporean school Insead.

Fact Box

FT MBA Rankings
1. Wharton, U.S.
2. London Business School, UK
3. Columbia, U.S.
4. Stanford GSB, U.S.
5. Harvard, U.S.
6. Insead, France/Singapore
7. MIT: Sloan, U.S.
8. IE Business School, Spain
9. University of Chicago GSB, U.S.
10. University of Cambridge: Judge, UK
Source: Financial Times 2008

Overall there are 22 schools outside the United States listed. In a sign of the increasing global reach of top schools, there are actually more top 100 institutions wholly or partly based in Asia -- eight -- than in Europe, with six.

The rankings give a useful benchmark for faculty and administrators to compare their school against others, said Dr Hasan Pirkul, dean of the UTD's School of Management.

"Research is an integral part of higher education, and I believe our colleagues appreciate the fact that we have developed a comprehensive database to track research in all areas of business," he said.

Pirkul has a personal reason to be pleased with this year's new table -- the data sees his own institution climbing 14 places on the worldwide ranking to 21st.

"What this study shows about our school is that we're a strong competitor in research," he said. "That makes it easier to recruit new, young faculty who know that research is important. It also translates into excellence in the classroom since a strong research faculty, by definition, is keeping up with cutting-edge knowledge in their fields." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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