A4 Article in conference proceedings
Shaking the status quo: Business School accreditation and positional competition.

List of Authors: Kimmo Alajoutsijärvi, Kerttu Kettunen, Sauli Sohlo
Publication year: 2015


One of the common notions of the contemporary management education literature is that business schools operate in highly competitive, globalized higher education markets. While the quality of any education is difficult to evaluate in advance, business schools need to capitalize on signaling the quality through status and reputation which can be enhanced through accreditations and high ranking placements. The purpose of accreditations and rankings is to indicate the prospective students, employees, and partners that the school is not only good but better than their closest rivals. This captures the positional nature of competition between business schools: A school’s position in any ranking table influences directly the relative positions available to other, competing schools. This paper examines the role of international accreditations as a means for positional competition in the local, relatively closed and hierarchically fixed business school context in Finland. In our longitudinal analysis of the accreditation process of North Finland-based Oulu Business School, we illustrate a lower-ranked business school’s effort to shake the established national pecking order among business schools through recognition from an international accreditation agency. We argue that facilitated by the international accreditations, Finland’s higher education sector is experiencing a fundamental transformation from what was inherently a non-ranking society to a ranking society.

Last updated on 2019-15-08 at 12:38