Playing the Ranking Game : Field formation and boundary-work in European management education

Detta är en avhandling från Uppsala : Företagsekonomiska institutionen

Sammanfattning: International ranking lists of business schools and MBA programmes have proliferated in the media in recent years. This thesis aims to understand the development of international rankings and the attention they enjoy in the community of European business schools. Furthermore, the study investigates the implications of rankings for the field of European management education. This study builds on text material, interviews, and a mail survey to European business school deans.The primary argument in this thesis is that rankings are arenas for boundary-work and the structuration of fields, and for the ongoing struggle to define and distribute symbolic capital in fields. Rankings are shown to be arenas for forming and re-forming a business school template, and creating and re-creating positions for members of the field. The template and the positions are used to create a stable sense of identity among business schools, and contribute to shaping field boundaries in terms of who is inside an elite group, and about which activities are considered legitimate for business schools. This study shows that the Financial Times rankings are used as arenas by European business schools to redraw boundaries for the field of management education. The proliferation of rankings implies an increase in the number of “judges” that claim the authority to evaluate performances of field members, which threatens the autonomy of the field.The study specifies the role of classifications in the continuous forming of organisational fields, and the identity-formation of individual organisations in the field. Classification systems such as rankings are thus important as arenas for debates, struggles, and boundary-work that contribute to the structuration of organisational fields. The study shows that the development of rankings both confirms and challenges pre-existing perceptions of the boundaries of the field, and contributes to the creation of a market for international management education.

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