Best of the Net

These business-school sites can help you think big.

Steal any great ideas lately? What you need is quick access to the best business thinking from leading universities. What you need, that is, are a few great B-school Webzines.

To find them, we decided to visit Web sites run by the top 50 U.S. business schools. Our goal: to haul in the brightest, most sparkling insights that real-life entrepreneurs could put into practice.

Unfortunately, only a few schools have figured out how to use the Web to reach the business world. We found four sites we especially liked. Knowledge@Wharton, an E-zine published by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, is a trailblazer and as good an example of Web branding as you'll find anywhere. In fact, its only rival is HBS Working Knowledge, produced by Harvard Business School (our second choice). Most other B-school sites recycle articles from their schools' print magazines. Of those, two stand out: Stanford University's Stanford Business and University of Chicago's Capital Ideas.

To judge the four selected sites in depth, we assembled a choice panel of CEOs. All are graduates of top universities. Two head E-learning companies, and the third runs an IT-consulting and -services company.

Our judges liked Knowledge@Wharton best. Launched in 1999, the zine aims to share Wharton's "intellectual capital." The site, organized into 14 topic areas, is as broad as its audience: about 130,000 registered users in some 180 countries. "Their topics are of general interest, the level to which they are pitched is appropriate for senior executives or CEOs, and the search engine is genuinely helpful," says panelist George B. Weathersby, CEO of Quisic, an E-learning company in Los Angeles.

HBS Working Knowledge was also created in 1999. Judge Alex Brigham, cofounder and CEO of Corpedia Education, an E-learning company in Phoenix, called the site a good resource for ad hoc information. But judge Shaku Atre, CEO of Atre Associates, in New York City, questioned the value of its book reviews, saying they read like commercials.

Stanford Business left our judges a lot less impressed. Still, Brigham pointed out that Stanford is an incubator of entrepreneurial activity, and he called Stanford's research papers "of great interest."

Finally, University of Chicago's Capital Ideas is a quarterly print journal that goes online with no changes. While our CEOs had plenty of praise for the B-school, its faculty, and the caliber of the articles on the site, they also said that the site was the least likely of the four to appeal to entrepreneurs. Why? Too academic, they said, and also too dry, too limited in subject matter, and too brief, with only four articles an issue.

Jane Salodof MacNeil is a freelance writer in Groveland, Mass.

Copyright © 2002 Jane Salodof MacNeil

An Entrepreneur's Guide to B-School E-zines
Site What it's good for Don't waste your time if What our CEOs had to say What you should know

Timely, topical, and insightful business writing. Plenty of useful information taken from academic research. You want hard-core theory. This site is not for academic purists. Atre liked the articles on finance and investment, and Weathersby praised the coverage of copyright protection and international trade. If you like the format, it's worth knowing that Knowledge@
( http://knowledge
) is a clone of this E-zine.
Working Knowledge,
Interviews with top professors and industry leaders on entrepreneurial issues; news of Harvard B-school events. You want pure academic research. Brigham praised the site; Atre called it her favorite. But Weathersby suspected it would interest only Harvard M.B.A.'s. A redesign is planned to boost the site's interactivity.
Stanford Business,
Learning about the Stanford B-school. You need quick access to useful information; there's no index. Atre found "gems" but not enough real-world coverage. Brigham liked the case studies. An overhaul of the site is planned; the goal is to create an easy-to-use portal.
Capital Ideas,
Summaries of research in economics and finance, conducted by some of the country's top business professors. You're looking for E-commerce, benefits-plan, and technology insights that you can put into practice today. Though our CEOs found two useful articles (out of a total of four), all said that the site had little relevance for entrepreneurs. If you're interested in venture capital, read the article "Six Degrees of Separation."

The Whole New Business Catalog

Please e-mail your comments to