Top-50 academics in Business & Management worldwide: new 2022 ranking

Discusses the new October 2022 individual ranking based on Scopus citations, listing the top 2% most cited academics in each field

In spite of my frequent research on rankings (To rank or not to rank) over the years, I am not a big fan of rankings, even less so of rankings of individual academics. These rankings only ever capture a fraction of what is important in academic jobs, typically focusing on publications and/or citations only. They also reinforce the idea that scientific research is all about individual excellence (see here on the myth of the "lone genius").

In recent years, my work has therefore focused on supporting early career researchers at Middlesex University and beyond (see Supporting Early Career Researchers). This is a role that I consider infinitely more "impactful" than any research I can do myself, alone or with others. You can also read more about my views on this in Leading with Kindness.

A new Scopus citation ranking

That said, I don't think there is any academic who is completely free of "academic vanity"; I am certainly not. So when friends pointed out to me in 2020 that I was highly ranked in a citation ranking based on Scopus data, I couldn't help myself looking.

In contrast to other citation rankings such as Clarivate's Essential Science Indicators - which is based on raw citation counts only - this ranking had created a score based on a combination of metrics: raw citations, h-index, individual h-index, citations to single-authored papers, citations to first-authored papers, and citations to last-authored papers. Only the top-2% of all academics in each field were included in this ranking. In total, some 196,000 academics were included.

The ranking also removed self-citations, which varied quite dramatically across the author-set; mine were 4.27% - well below the average of 13.44% - but for some authors they were above 90%. If you want to play with the data yourself, all spreadsheets can be freely downloaded here. If you do use the data in an official publication, please cite the data-set as follows.

  • Ioannidis, John P.A. (2022), “September 2022 data-update for "Updated science-wide author databases of standardized citation indicators"”, Mendeley Data, V4, doi: 10.17632/btchxktzyw.42022 

Limitations of Scopus data

This ranking is based on Scopus author profiles. This means that if an academic's author profile is polluted or incomplete, their ranking might be incorrect. For instance, my original ranking showed the wrong affiliation for two academics (Teece and Chesbrough) as their Scopus author profile had the incorrect affiliation. Whilst inaccuracies are unfortunate for individual academics, they cannot be avoided.

All data sources have some level of inaccuracy. With nearly 200,000 academics included in the list some inaccuracies are bound to be present. You can avoid this by checking and if necessary correcting your own author profile here. As academics we all need to ensure that our various researcher profiles (e.g. Web of Science, Scopus, Google Scholar) are accurate. This should not take more than 15 minutes a year.

More seriously, Scopus does not have complete coverage of publications before 1996. Although Scopus has continued to add pre-1996 publications over the years, coverage varies by discipline, publisher, and journal. As nearly all of the academics in the top-50 started publishing before 1996, some of their pre-1996 publications might not yet appear in Scopus. This might well involve some of their seminal works. 

Creating a 2022 ranking in Business & Management

As typical citation rates are hugely field-dependent, the authors had included disciplines and sub-disciplines in their spreadsheets. I used these to create a ranking for my own discipline: Business & Management. To do so, I first selected all academics within the main discipline of Economics & Business that had Business & Management as their first sub-discipline.

I then removed any academics that had published less than 70% of their work in Economics & Business. Most of the academics removed in this process were either in Social Psychology or in Operations Research/Statistics. These are both fields that are closely related to Economics & Business, but not generally seen as being core to the discipline. This left me with a total of 667 academics ranked in Business & Management.

Please note that this ranking looked at the academics' entire career, not just the last 10 years (as in the Clarivate Essential Science Indicators). As a result, most of the academics in the top-50 are in the later stages of their career, with many of them being emeritus or emerita professors. Sadly, a number of the academics in this list have passed away, including two of the UK scholars in the top-50, Mike Wright and Sumantra Ghoshal (see also: Writing laudations or obituaries?).

Top-50 worldwide in Business & Management

Above, I have listed the top-50 most highly cited scholars worldwide in Business & Management. Compared with last year (see last year's ranking here) about half of the academics stayed in the same place, or changed just one or two places. This was especially true for the top-20 which saw very few changes. I was pleased to see that I had improved my own position from #50 in 2020 and #44 last year to #39 this year.

Nine academics dropped out of the ranking as less than 70% of their work was now published in Economics & Business. Three academics passed that threshold this year and were newly ranked, including Michael Porter at #2. Last year, only 64% of his work was classified in Economics & Business, whereas this year it was 70%. Two Marketing scholars (Thomas Hult and Arch Woodside) are now included as their primary discipline changed from Marketing to Business & Management. Four academics were newly listed as their citations had increased enought to place them in the top-50 (Andrew van de Ven, Herman Aguinis, Ans Kolk, and Donald Siegel).

Obviously, this illustrates that rankings are sensitive to assumptions, in this case the proportion of someone's work that needs to be published in Economics & Business and their primary disciplinary classification. We have to draw the line somewhere. If we didn't, the Business & Management list would include many academics with a main disciplinary focus elsewhere. So don't be surprised if some academics that have published significant articles in Business & Management are not included.

Geographical and gender diversity

As is immediately evident, most highly-cited researchers (35 out of the top-50) are affiliated with North American institutions. Of the remaining fifteen, ten (incl. myself) were affiliated with UK institutions, two work in the Netherlands and one each work in Sweden, Italy (though originating from the UK), and Denmark. The top of the Business & Management field is clearly dominated by Anglophone scholars. Part of this is no doubt a reflection of the dominance of the English language (see also: English as a Lingua Franca in Academia). 

Six of the top-50 academics are female; three of these are affiliated with non-US universities. Interestingly, these three academics are all Dutch and/or affiliated with a Dutch university. Even though Dutch universities do not have a particularly good record in terms of female professorships (see Why are there so few female Economics professors?), their female academics do appear to be overrepresented in the top-50 academics in Business & Management.

Has diversity increased over the years?

My original LinkedIn post resulted in quite a lot of engagement, including comments about the lack of gender and international diversity. This is unsurprising as many of the academics in this ranking started their careers at a time when the top of academia was very homogeneously North-American and male. I suggested that we might well see diversity increasing over the years. However, as researchers we can actually tests our hypotheses!

Hence, prompted by Sjoerd Beugelsdijk who had created a list of “young academics”, i.e., those who had started publishing this century, I split the group of 667 Business & Management academics into four career cohorts, based on when academics started publishing. To make the rankings more future-oriented, I excluded academics who are no longer research-active by removing those who had not published in the last three years (2020-2022). This removed 91 academics; it also applied to four academics who were in the above top-50 (Kogut, Feldman, Winter, and Ghoshal).

  1. 1954-1980: 79 academics, 14 of which appeared in the overall top-50
  2. 1980-1989: 156 academics, 14 of which appeared in the overall top-50
  3. 1990-1999: 256 academics, 17 of which appeared in the overall top-50
  4. 2000-2010: 85 academics, 1 of which appeared in the overall top-50

The first two groups are smaller than anticipated. One would normally expect older academics to have more citations and thus to be better represented in the top 2% most cited scholars. However, as I explained above, Scopus coverage might not be complete for these academics. The smaller fourth cohort indicates that most younger academics have not yet had enough time to build a research profile strong enough to feature in the top 2% most cited academics.

Yes it has quite significantly! 

The results were quite remarkable. Below you can find the top-25 for each of the four periods. Incidentally, Sjoerd – whose email prompted this study – ranked at #29, just out of the top-25, for the youngest group 😊.

As is evident, diversity has indeed increased significantly over the years. In each subsequent cohort, the proportion of female academics and international academics increased. Moreover, both female academics and non-North American academics now appear higher up in the rankings. This culminates in 5 female and 6 non-North American academics in the top-10 for the youngest cohort!

Note 11 Nov: A German academic informed me that the scholar who was initially 5th-ranked in the youngest cohort - Ulrich Lichtenthaler - has had 16 of his publications retracted for data irregularities. I therefore do not consider it appropriate to include him in the ranking and have added the 26th ranked scholar to the list instead.

Gender and international diversity in detail

The proportion of female scholars in the top-25 has grown from 4% and 8% in the early days, to 28% and 32% in the last two periods. I do not have current data for the proportion of senior female academics – those most likely to be ranked as highly-cited academics – in Business & Management. However, I suspect it is not much above 30%, and much lower in some countries. Hence, for the last two "generations", the gender distribution in the top-25 might well be representative of the wider population of academics.

The level of international diversity has increased even more significantly. Whereas for the oldest group of scholars only 20% came from outside North America, this increased to 32% in the second and third group and a staggering 72% in the youngest group of scholars. North American scholars are clearly in a minority among the most cited young academics.

Moreover, whereas for the three oldest group of scholars most of the non-North American scholars came from the UK, in the youngest group of scholars we find a wide variety of countries included. English-speaking countries are still well represented. Although the UK features only once (with a Finnish scholar), Australia has four scholars on the list. 

However, a much wider variety of countries is now included. Germany has three scholars on the list, the Netherlands and Hong Kong two scholars each. The remaining are an eclectic mix of three Western European countries (France, Italy, and Norway), Romania, the United Arab Emirates, and Brazil. The world of Business & Management has become truly international!

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