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Positive Impact Rating 2023: Best Business Schools For Social Impact Revealed

The annual Positive Impact Rating Report surveys current students to find out which are the best business schools for social impact around the world. Find out the winners in this year's report

Wed Jun 14 2023

The annual Positive Impact Rating (PIR) Report of global business schools released today, highlighting the schools students feel are having the most positive impact on the world and society. 

Providing each school with a score out 10 and placing them within five levels of impact—all 69 participating schools were rated level three or higher—the PIR asks current b-school students to assess their school’s social impact. 

Schools from 25 countries in five continents took part. Seven achieved a rating that earned a spot in level five while 39 schools were rated level four and 23 level three. 

Assessments of each school were conducted via on-campus surveys comprising 20 questions covering criteria ranging from governance and culture, to learning methods, student support, and public engagement. Data collection was organized by student associations across the globe. 

“It is great to see how students actively take part in transforming their business schools. They are key stakeholders of our future and their voice is of crucial importance for curriculum change,” said Carolin Lemke, PIR Supervisory Board member and vice president of oikos International, a global student association. 

READ: 10 Social Impact Companies You Could Apply To After Graduation


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Best business schools for social impact 

Seven institutions were rated ‘Pioneering Schools’ by their students when it came to social impact. Earning a place in level five, they held an average impact score of 9.2, significantly higher than the average across all participating schools of 7.7. 

Six of these b-schools were in Asia. HKUST Business School is based in Hong Kong, while Goa Institute of Management, IIM Bangalore, SP Jain Institute of Management & research, Woxsen University School of Business, and XLRI Xavir School of Management are all based in India. 

The final school to achieve a level five rating was CENTRUM PUCP Business School in Peru. It and HKUST both rose from level four in 2022’s PIR report. 

Schools listed in level four were regarded as ‘Transforming Schools’. With 39 schools in total, the majority of level four schools were based in Europe (21), while a further 10 were located in North America. The remaining Transforming Schools were from Africa (three) Central America (two), Asia (two), and Australia (one). 

Notable European schools in level four included the UK’s Imperial College Business School, ESADE Business School in Spain, Grenoble Ecole de Management in France, Belgium’s Antwerp Management School, and Aalto University School of Business in Finland. 

Representatives of the US in level four included: Fordham University Gabelli School of Business, Drexel University LeBow College of Business, and Colorado State University College of Business. 

Also included were IIM Indore in India, China’s XJTLU International Business School, and IPADE Business School in Mexico. 

Finally, 23 schools were included in level three, earning the title of ‘Progressing Schools’ after achieving an average score of 6.8. Again, the overwhelming majority were based in Europe, while three US-based schools made the list along with two schools from Asia. 

Among the progressors were the likes of EDHEC Business School in France, HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management in Germany, Italy’s Luiss Business School, BI Norwegian Business School in Norway, and Maastricht University School of Business and Economics in the Netherlands. 

Check out the full list of the best business schools for social impact

B-schools in developing economies having greater social impact 

The results showed that business schools in developed economies such as the US and Europe tend to have a lower social impact than those in developing economies such as India.

Overall, the report concluded that among 20 schools in developing economies the average impact score was 8.2, while among the 49 schools in developed economies, the average score was 7.4.

“One of the most promising insights from the PIR is that schools from the developing economies are performing significantly better than the schools from developed economies,” said Urs Jäger, professor at INCAE Business School in Costa-Rica and Member of the PIR Advisory Board

“It is promising, as this result might strengthen the discussion on business schools in the global South and their contribution to sustainable development,” he added. 

Students' expectations of schools revealed 

Alongside rating their schools, students taking part in PIR surveys provided feedback detailing what they felt business schools should be doing to improve their social impact. 

Constructive feedback included: including mandatory sustainability teaching in curricula, integrating business and societal stakeholders in the learning process, innovating learning methods, and ensuring faculty are open-minded and committed to the topic of social impact. 

Students also revealed practices they felt schools should avoid. This included downplaying diversity and fairness, greenwashing, and engaging in unethical business partnerships. 

Students also said they wanted schools to get rid of waste on campus, and to provide more support for them over issues including their health. 

Thomas Dyllick, director of the Institute for Business Sustainability, Switzerland, PIR founder and member of the PIR Supervisory Board, said the report provided a new way for candidates to choose where they attend business school, beyond traditional rankings. 

“While future students now have an alternative source to select their business school, schools refer to the PIR primarily to measure and communicate their transformational progress. The voice of the student has become a true source of value,” he said. 

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