In most cases the ADCOM simply does its best to rank the candidates.
Then the top N get admission letters, and of those the top n (n<=N) get admission + funding.
Ranking may also be used to further divide the funded applicants (top n1 get fellowship offers, next n2 get TA's, rest get only tuition waivers, etc).
Of course they know that only a fraction (estimated from experience) of offers in any category will be accepted. They consider that in determining
In principle, it is reasonable to consider program strength in specific fields and even subfields.
The main problems of doing so are two:
(1) the candidate may just have a "leaning" toward some field(s) -- not really a well-defined research idea --, and this may change as s/he becomes aware of new material during the 1st/2nd year of the PhD
(2) Even if the candidate has a strong field preference and some concrete ideas, s/he still need to *predict*
In PRACTICAL terms, getting into a top management PhD program, and into a top Econ program is minimally different. The student enrolled at the management PhD program can take courses offered by the econ department, attend the seminars, have members of the econ department in his committee, etc. (vice-versa for the econ Phd students).
The only practical difference are the required courses... Management PhD students normally do not have to take macroeconomics, BUT MAY do so. Econometrics/statistics
The GRE, it is the ONLY item in the typical applicant's profile that has an OBJECTIVE value. Everything else depends on where the applicant has done his work. An A earned at a lesser known school (LKS) will NOT be viewed as equivalent to an A from an Ivy school, even if the LKS is in the US (and it shouldn't). A LOR sent by a top researcher will not be viewed the same as one sent by an unknown faculty member of a LKS (nor should it). Research experience is great, but it depends on the place where