American institutions continue to dominate lists of the top MBAs, with Chicago’s Booth School of Business coming first in the latest round-up.

Eight of the top 10 in The Economist’s 2019 ranking were located in the US, with France’s HEC Paris Business School in third and Spain’s IESE Business School at number 10, the only European entries. Big names Harvard, Kellogg and Wharton rounded out the top five.

While taking a Master of Business Administration qualification at one of these prestigious institutions has long been a pathway to profitable employment – more than 90% of attendees on the top 20 courses had a job within three months – what students and businesses want is changing, according to The Economist.

Image: The Economist

Students, it said, are now looking for a focus on more than just the bottom line, wanting classes to reflect corporate purpose and values as well as their impact on society. Meanwhile, employers are looking beyond simple management skills and want to see the curricula incorporate tech-savvy classes on coding, analytics and data.

The changing nature of the top business qualifications reflect a broader shift in the world of work as educational institutions, business leaders and politicians look to the future. The World Economic Forum's Future of Jobs Report explores how demand is increasing for different competencies, with the need for “human” skills such as critical thinking and creativity growing, as technology reshapes the workplace and eliminates some types of role.

Preparing workers for the Fourth Industrial Revolution is among policymakers’ top concerns and one of the pillars of the Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report looks at how prepared workforces are. Switzerland comes top, with Germany, Finland and Denmark also scoring highly.

What do we mean by ‘competitiveness’?

What is economic competitiveness? The World Economic Forum, which has been measuring countries' competitiveness since 1979, defines it as: “the set of institutions, policies and factors that determine the level of productivity of a country." Other definitions exist, but all generally include the word “productivity”.


The Global Competitiveness Report is a tool to help governments, the private sector, and civil society work together to boost productivity and generate prosperity. Comparative analysis between countries allows leaders to gauge areas that need strengthening and build a coordinated response. It also helps identify best practices around the world.

The Global Competitive Index forms the basis of the report. It measures performance according to 114 indicators that influence a nation’s productivity. The latest edition covered 141 economies, accounting for over 98% of the world’s GDP.

Countries’ scores are based primarily on quantitative findings from internationally recognized agencies such as the International Monetary Fund and World Health Organization, with the addition of qualitative assessments from economic and social specialists and senior corporate executives.

What will also be interesting is how technology reshapes education and training, along with the MBA programmes. With online education evolving at a rapid pace, it may no longer be necessary to take a 21-month residential course, prompting the question: which MBA institution is most prepared for the future?