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 Frequently asked questions

  • How is the data collected?
    The surveys run online between October and April with questions and explanations provided in English (only). Local student organizations distribute the survey to bachelor and master students. They are prepared and supported by the PIR student coordinator. The local student organizations have access to their school specific dashboard, which they use to monitor the number of student responses. They need to reach a minimum of 100 responses.
  • How are the business schools rated?
    The students are asked to answer 20 questions measuring the positive societal impact of their school. They are distributed across three areas and seven dimensions. For all questions the same rating scale is used . It ranges from 1 ("I don't agree") to 10 ("I completely agree"). A 0 option ("I am not sure") is provided for every question, ensuring that students have the chance to opt out. The overall PIR scores of a school are calculated by using the means of all individual responses to a question, a dimension, or an area. In cases where a 0 option is chosen by a student, special precautions are taken to ensure data consistency.
  • How are the levels defined?
    The overall PIR score of the business school is used to position the school on one of five levels (quintiles). The levels are defined using a decreasing size of a level on the 10-point scale, to express an increasing challenge to reach higher levels. The end point for level 1 was chosen by using the lowest score achieved by a school. The characterizations of the different levels refer to the developmental stage of the business school.
  • Why is the PIR “perception based” rather than “fact based”?
    The PIR has been designed as perception based, using subjective assessments by students, not as facts based. Why do we use perceptions? Perceptions provide insights into qualitative assessments of reality as perceived by relevant actors By collecting perceptions of students about their own school, these perceptions can be seen as highly relevant for the school and for (actual and future) students. Perceptions define reality for the actors and guide their actions. For them perceptions are more relevant than “facts”. Moreover, perceptions reach beyond the present and provide foresight into the expected future, which is difficult to achieve through the collection of facts. Facts typically will not take into account different societal and cultural conditions and needs. The PIR deliberately provides an alternative perspective to traditional rankings which mostly rely on facts.
  • What are the methodological limitations?
    A limitation of the PIR survey lies in the high correlations between the survey questions in the seven dimensions, leading up to the three assessment areas. On the one hand, a high correlation confirms the solidity of the model and how tightly the questions cover the one thing we want to measure, namely the positive impact contribution of business schools. On the other hand, a high correlation between the PIR dimensions and areas suggests opportunities of removing redundancies among the questions. Data experts have reviewed the pros and cons and have adopted the position that the survey methodology was specifically designed to respond to the expectations of the expert panel that created the methodology and the multi-stakeholder panel that finally decided on its structure and elements. Its purpose is not only to assess the positive impact of business schools but also to provide them with practical guidance on how to report on their activities and what to do to improve its positive impact. Fewer questions leading to fewer dimensions may improve the stringency of the survey, but it would at the same time reduce the value of the results as a management tool for transforming business schools.
  • How can the survey be individualized?
    Two new features were integrated into the PIR survey in 2023 to individualize the survey, allowing schools to add up to 8 new questions to the core PIR survey. Schools now have the possibility to opt-in for “AACSB-compatible questions” and “School-specific questions”. The two optional add-ons cost €280 each or €480 if you choose to opt in for both as a package. See next section ("Additional features") for more details about each add on.
  • Why is the PIR structured as a rating and not as a ranking?
    A rating categorizes schools into different, but similar groups, while a ranking positions business schools in a highly differentiated league table. Rankings are being criticized increasingly for creating differences between schools which are often not practically meaningful. And they pit schools against each other, in a field where competition is less relevant than in business. Also, ranking management has become an important new discipline for business schools, diverting attention and resources away from other, often more important tasks. Cooperative and collective activities, however, should not be discouraged through rankings, but they should be supported. The PIR reduces the potential for competitiveness by grouping the schools in 5 different levels ("quintiles") according to their overall scores. In addition, the schools are listed alphabetically in these levels, not by position. Only the schools rated in the three highest levels are included in the report.
  • Why does the PIR classify schools on an absolute scale and not on a relative scale?
    Most rankings define their scales in a relative way, by using the best performing school for the upper end of the scale and the poorest performing school for the lower end. Then all other schools are positioned between these two ends. This way the performance is measured relative to the other participating schools. When the field of participating schools changes the scale changes as well. And, more importantly, it measures the performance of the schools relative to the existing level of impact. The PIR, however, measures and classifies business schools on an absolute scale, which is independent of the schools participating in the rating. And it measures their performance against a required level of impact, as expressed by the expectations of their students. It thereby highlights the potential for improvement, even for leading schools.
  • Why do students rate the schools?
    The PIR is based on an assessment done by (undergraduate and graduate) students who assess their own school, a place which they know very well, and which is close to their hearts and minds. Students are "a", if not "the" main stakeholders of business schools. Their evaluations are highly relevant for the school. The collection of data is organized through student associations at their own school. They take responsibility for assessing the positive impact of their own schools and get access to the data collected through an online dashboard. The PIR thereby serves also as a tool for empowering students to engage in using and communicating the data at their schools and beyond.
  • How do students rate their school?
    Student associations are responsible for the coordination and communication of the PIR survey in their school. They engage with fellow students to anonymously complete the survey. The business school leadership commits in writing to support the students, if necessary, but respect the integrity of the student voice at their school. Each student association is provided with a unique PIR dashboard and link to their survey, which includes 20 questions related to the three areas and seven dimensions of the PIR. In each of the dimensions, students are asked to assess their school's current state to create a positive impact. Two more open-ended questions ask students what their schools should start and stop doing in support of its commitment to providing management education that results in a positive impact for the world.
  • How is positive impact measured?
    The PIR is based on a clear conceptual model of the Positive Impact of business schools as originally developed by the 50+20 vision. It looks at the whole school in all of its key areas and dimensions. The model distinguishes between 3 areas and 7 dimensions and is operationalized through 20 questions: Area 1: Energizing - comprised of the 2 dimensions Governance and Culture. It enables and energizes business schools to effectively go for - and eventually create - positive impact. Area 2: Educating - comprised of the 3 dimensions Programs, Learning Methods, and Student Support. It refers to a core function of business school impact: preparing students to become responsible future leaders in business and society. Area 3: Engaging - comprised of the 2 dimensions Institution as a Role Model and Public Engagement. It refers to the need for business schools to earn the trust by students and society but also to engage as respected public citizens.
  • What changes have been implemented in the survey?
    The survey experts met to review the survey based on our First Edition results in 2020 as well as feedback from participating schools and students. Two changes in the area of "Educating" resulted from this. First, one question in the "Learning Methods" dimension was slightly rephrased to improve understanding. Second, the "Student Engagement" dimension was entirely reconsidered. Since the PIR survey assesses the performance of a business school, rather than the performance of its students, we changed this dimension to "Student Support", hence measuring the activities of the school, rather than the engagement of its students. There are now three new questions to assess the school's ability to support and encourage students in their societal engagement activities. There have been no changes in the questions for the last three editions of the survey.
  • What is required from the schools to participate in the PIR?
    For participation in the PIR the school administration has to formally sign-up. They have to pay a participation fee of €1,600 and ensure a committed student association for independent coordination of the data collection. They have to agree to follow the PIR principles and respect the integrity of the student voice. The PIR is formally organized as an independent not-for-profit association under Swiss law. The fee is used exclusively to cover the costs of operating the PIR. Also, the PIR Association aims to be as inclusive as possible of schools from all countries, including developing economies.
  • How long does the fee guarantee participation in the PIR?
    The participation fee is charged per annual PIR edition. For example, if a school signs up in 2023 for the PIR 2024 edition, the participation fee will count for the entire period of the 2024 edition, up until it’s results and annual report are published, which is usually in June of the edition’s year, i.e. in June 2024.
  • When should a school sign up for the PIR?
    Business Schools wishing to participate in the PIR 2024 rating can register anytime as of now. When registering, schools can opt in to add AACSB-compatible or school-specific questions to their individual survey if they so desire.
  • How long will the PIR survey remain open?
    The data collection is purposefully long to enable schools in different systems to participate and will be available from September 2023 to March 2024.
  • When will a school receive its PIR results?
    After the data collection period ends in March, the PIR starts verifying and analyzing process, as well as compiling the annual PIR Report. Usually, that takes about two months. The final results are shared with the schools under embargo latest one week before the official announcement of the results and the annual PIR Report launch in June.
  • What happens if a school gets rated low by the students?
    The PIR welcomes all business schools around the world to take part in its annual rating. As it may take a bit of courage to let students assess one’s school, the principle of not featuring Level 1 and Level 2 schools in the report, provides a welcome safe space for first-time participating schools. There is no risk of being shamed or blamed. Schools can always inquire about any specific questions or concerns they may have. And there is a great upside for schools letting their students assess the positive impact, as they will learn a lot from their experiences and insights.
  • How many business schools participate in the rating?
    71 schools located in 25 countries participated in 2023, of which 69 schools are published. In 2021, 46 schools located in 21 countries were rated. In 2020, 45 schools in five continents and 21 countries were rated. The number of student participants in 2023 was well above 12'000. The average number of participating students per school has been at about 180 in the past three years.
  • Where do the schools come from?
    The largest number of participating schools is from Western Europe, North America, Southern Europe and from Asia. The participation of schools from Central/South America and from Africa could still be improved.
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