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Mapping globally branded business schools: a strategic positioning analysis

Howard Thomas (Warwick Business School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK)
Xiaoying Li (Department of Management, Birkbeck College, London, UK)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 16 October 2009




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the strategic profiles and differences across globally leading business schools.


This paper used the concepts of strategic group identity and domain consensus to examine the differences across the business schools. Cluster analysis is applied to identify strategic groups among 82 global schools from the USA, Canada, Europe, Asia and Australia.


Ten strategic groups – essentially similar strategic “clusters” – are identified by the clustering analysis. The results demonstrate that the groups do have different resource and reputation profiles.

Research limitations/implications

Future research can improve the research base by collecting data on financial variables such as endowments, providing metrics by which a school's efficiency can be assessed, or collecting longitudinal data. Furthermore, a form of cognitive strategic mapping could be achieved through survey and interview mechanisms in order to highlight the perspectives of deans and senior managers of business schools.


This research contributes to the literature in two aspects. First, this research provides a clear mapping of the strategic “bands” across globally branded business schools. The results are highly timely in today's debate about the nature and future of business schools. Second, this research demonstrates that strategic group theory can be applied in the business school context.



Thomas, H. and Li, X. (2009), "Mapping globally branded business schools: a strategic positioning analysis", Management Decision, Vol. 47 No. 9, pp. 1420-1440.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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