27% Of MBA Applicants Are Status Seekers: GMAC Survey


What particular factor motivates people to go in for an MBA? Is it simply a question of demographics–gender, age or nationalities? To answer these questions, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) undertook the first-ever candidate segmentation survey that threw up some rather surprising results.

The global GME (General Management Education) candidate segmentation study was undertaken in partnership with IPSOS, a well-known market research firm, to help drive industry growth through insights on the motivations of the broader GME candidate pipeline. The study identified seven global segments that have distinct differences on what motivates them to pursue GME, including the desire to be a role model, provide for one’s children, develop skills and impact society.

The Survey found that marketing based on motivations resonates more with customers than that based on demographics alone. It provides a way to connect on an emotional level and inspires action. Motivational segmentations are also universal, avoid cultural bias, and remain stable over time.

According to the survey that covered 5900 candidates from the general population in the age group 20-45, 27% were status seekers who felt that a Management degree would give them the status and respect that they craved. The global strivers came next at 14% comprising those who wanted to explore a world of opportunities. Career revitalizers and skill upgraders formed 13% each followed by impactful innovators at 12% and socio-economic climbers at 11%.

The people surveyed were from 15 countries who had applied to GME within the last 2 years. The top 5 motivations for pursuing a management degree were for improving management skills, quicker career advancement, improving specific skills, having a more fulfilling/satisfying career and improving leadership skills.

The top 5 criteria for selecting schools, based on entire survey population, were high quality instructors faculty, good reputation for its programs, excellent academic reputation, having a specific program that meets the applicant’s needs and high ranking.

The status seekers were, the survey found, more likely to live in North America. They felt that the MBA degree was not as highly regarded as it used to be, that the GMAT (General Management Aptitude Test) was too difficult, that they needed to stick to the same routine on a daily basis and considered themselves to be a failure if they don’t advance in career or get promotions.

The global strivers, however, felt that they would be willing to pay whatever it took them to get into one of the top ranked schools and that admission exams were an effective way to determine which student should be accepted into an MBA or a business related master’s degree program. They were more likely to be aged between 20-24, be employed in the computer/IT industry and apply to schools on a different continent.

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The balanced careerists are likely to live in Europe, have work experience of 10+ years with current employer and be in the public service sector. They would rather go to a lower ranked school it meant having a better chance of success. They also tended to value work-life balance and felt it was never too late to return to school.

Most of the career revitalisers are more likely to live in China. Their motivation could be that they wanted to apply for a job, but lacked required skills and/or a degree. An issue at work like being denied promotions or negative review could have also prompted them to apply for an MBA program. They would be in the 35-45 age group, living in an urban setting and pursue a degree not taught in English.

The socio-economic climbers are more likely to live in North/Central America or Europe. Their top 5 motivations are to earn more money, provide stability in career, have a more fulfilling/satisfying career, improve socio-economic status and give children a better future.

The skill upgraders are likely to be employed in the computer/IT industry who do not mind going to a lower ranked school if it meant better chance of success. The impactful innovators are more likely to live in Asia or Africa, be self-employed and have only an undergraduate degree.(Image Source:google.com)


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