Where are global leaders educated?

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 10/10/2007 03:28:00 PM
Where are global leaders educated? The good folks over at the Boston College Center of International Higher Education have investigated this very question. Unsurprisingly, a large number of those working in international organizations have a background in Western higher education. One of the common criticisms of international organizations is that there is precious little divergence in points of view among different individuals working in these organizations. The rather homogeneous backgrounds of these individuals may explain why to some extent:

The increasing global influence of international organizations creates some curiosity about the educational backgrounds of top officials in leading international organizations. This article explores which universities are regarded or preferred as world-class universities by recruiters in the leading international organizations. Data were obtained from the Year Book of International Organizations (2005—2006) and Who's Who in International Organizations (2006), which include 15,354 leading organizations ranging from United Nations agencies to virtually every type of international organization. As such, the educational backgrounds of 2,563 high-ranking officials were identified—encompassing secretaries-general, directors-general, deputy and assistant directors-general, and department heads. Included in this sample were top officials holding one or more of the higher education degrees (i.e., bachelor's, master's, and doctoral).

The majority of these global leaders were trained at Western universities. Of the 2,563 high-ranking officials, 88.5 percent of them earned at least one higher education degree at Western universities. In particular, almost half of these alma maters are located in two English-speaking countries: the United States, 27.4 percent, and the United Kingdom, 18.8 percent. These national figures to some extent reflect the percentage of global elite universities located in these two nations, as suggested by the rankings of the Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) and Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU). For example, the 2005 THES ranking reveals that 26.5 percent of the top 200 universities were located in the United States, which is consistent with the percentage of the top officials educated in the United States (27.4% of the top 2,563 officials). Also, 16 percent of the top 200 universities were located in the United Kingdom according to the 2005 SJTU data—similar to the percentage of the top officials educated in the United Kingdom (18.8%). The prestigious universities in those two countries served as the major source for top officials. A striking 11.7 percent of the 2,563 officials were cultivated by only four universities: Harvard (4%), Oxford (3.4%), Cambridge (2.5%), and Yale (1.8%).

Another distinctive feature was that 41 percent of top officials turned out to be educated in western European countries other than in the United Kingdom. The institutions where 29.5 percent of top officials were educated were located in four European countries: France (11.5%), Belgium (8.8%), Germany (4.9%), and the Netherlands (4.3%). These top officials were educated in 19 cities in countries where several well-known universities are clustered—for example, Paris (e.g., Paris I to Paris XIII, and École Normale Supérieure) and Brussels (e.g., Université Libre de Bruxelles and Université Catholique de Louvain).