Highly cited academics in Business & Management over the years

Analysis of the top-50 most highly cited academics in Business & Management and its increasing level of diversity over the years

© Copyright 2023 Anne-Wil Harzing. All rights reserved. First version, 14 Nov 2023

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 and this post on Positive Leadership.

Scopus 2% most cited academics ranking

That said, I doubt any academic is entirely free of "academic vanity"; I certainly am not. So, when back in 2020 friends pointed out to me that I was highly ranked in a citation ranking based on Scopus data, I couldn't help myself looking. You can find the original article here (full reference below). Since then, the ranking has been updated three times. I have written up blogposts on the 2020, 2021, and 2022 rankings, but decided to turn the 2023 write-up into a white paper to make it easier to access.

In contrast to other citation rankings such as Clarivate's Essential Science Indicators - which is based on raw citation counts only - this ranking has 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 discipline were included in this ranking. In total, more than 200,000 academics were included across the various disciplines.

The ranking also removed self-citations, which varied quite dramatically across the author-set; mine were 4.2% - well below the average of 13.3% - but for some authors they were above 80%. There were about 6,000 academics for whom more than a third of their citations were self-citations. 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. (2023), “October 2023 data-update for "Updated science-wide author databases of standardized citation indicators"”, Elsevier Data Repository, V6, doi: 10.17632/btchxktzyw.6

Creating a Business & Management ranking

Typical citation rates are hugely field-dependent. Hence, the authors included both disciplines and sub-disciplines in their spreadsheets. I used these to create a ranking for my own sub-discipline: Business & Management. To do so, I selected all academics that had published 70+% of their work in the broader discipline of Economics & Business and had Business & Management as their first sub-discipline. This left me with a total of 691 academics ranked in Business & Management. These academics were all within the top 2% most cited in Economics & Business. The full list can be downloaded here.

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 academics in the top-50 are in the late stages of their career. Many are in their seventies or eighties and 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?).

Predictably this list of nearly 700 highly cited academics was dominated by those affiliated with Anglophone North American institutions. A full 62% were affiliated with either a US (56%) or a Canadian (6%) institution. However, in total 30 countries were represented, with substantial representation from two other English-speaking countries: UK (14%), Australia (3%).

Five European countries had ten or more academics represented on the list: Germany (2%), the Netherlands (2%), Italy (1.7%), Denmark (1.5%), and Sweden (1.5%). Only one Asian country (Singapore, 1.5%) had ten academics on the list, though most of these originated from Western countries. More than 80% of the top 2% most cited academics are affiliated with universities in countries with English as their native language. It is clear that Business & Management is still an Anglophone discipline.

Top-50 worldwide in Business & Management 

Above, I have listed the top-50 most highly cited scholars worldwide in Business & Management. Obviously, rankings are sensitive to assumptions, in this case the proportion of someone's work that needs to be published in Economics & Business (70+%) and their primary sub-discipline being Business & Management. 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 one or more significant articles in Business & Management are not included. 

On average academics in this group have published 158 papers in Scopus-listed outlets, with a range from 41 to over 500. The average number of single-authored papers is much lower (30) and varies even more widely, from a low of 3 to a high of more than 100. Excluding self-citations, the average total number of Scopus citations ranged from just over 9,000 to well over 80,000, for an average of around 23,500 citations. At just below 5,000, the average number of citations to single-authored papers is substantially lower and ranges from a low of 57 to a high of more than 33,000.

This ranking uses a wide range of metrics (see below for details). It therefore allows academics with different publication and citation profiles to rise to the top of the ranking. For instance, Business & Management academics with a secondary sub-discipline of Social Psychology tend to publish a larger number of co-authored papers; generally, less than 10% of their work is single-authored. More generally, the proportion of citations to single-authored work varies from less than 1% (Philip Podsakoff, Michael Hitt, and Mike Wright) to over 50% (David Teece, Karl Weick, Jay Barney, and Robert Grant).

Personally, I was very pleased to remain listed in the top-50, ranking at #45 this year. In the past 3-5 years, I have consciously slowed down my own academic publishing ventures in order to focus on blogging, career guides, and mentoring junior academics. Hence, I fully expect to drop out of the top-50 next year.

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, eight (incl. myself) are affiliated with UK institutions, two each work in Germany or the Netherlands and one each work in Sweden, Denmark, and Italy (though originating from the UK). 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). 

Nine of the top-50 academics are female; only four of these are affiliated with non-US universities. Interestingly, three of these academics are 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 over-represented in the top-50 academics in Business & Management.

Has diversity increased over the years?

As an academic with a strong research and practice interest in diversity in academia, I was curious whether diversity had increased over the years. Hence, I split the group of 691 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 (2021-2023). This removed 98 academics; it also applied to five academics who were in the above top-50 (Feldman, Winter, Weick, Kogut, and Ghoshal). This resulted in the following four groups.

  1. 1954-1980: 83 academics, 13 of which appeared in the overall top-50
  2. 1980-1989: 165 academics, 15 of which appeared in the overall top-50
  3. 1990-1999: 246 academics, 16 of which appeared in the overall top-50
  4. 2000-2010: 99 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. That said, quite a few of these academics may have stopped publishing; three quarters of the academics who were removed as no longer research-active were in the first two groups. Moreover, as I explain below, Scopus coverage might not be entirely 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, diversity has quite significantly! 

The results of my cohort analysis were quite remarkable. Below you can find the top-25 for each of the four cohorts. As is evident, diversity has indeed increased significantly over the years.

In nearly 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 five female and five non-North American academics in the top-10 for the youngest cohort, with three female academics in the top-5!

Note: The scholar initially 7th-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% 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 16% came from outside North America, this increased to 32% in the second group, 36% in the third group, and 64% 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 many of the non-North American scholars came from other English-speaking countries, in the youngest group of scholars we find a very wide variety of countries included. Granted, English-speaking countries are still well represented. Although the UK features only once (with a Finnish scholar), Australia has three scholars on the list. 

However, a much wider variety of countries is now included. Germany has four scholars on the list, the Netherlands and Italy are represented with two scholars each. The remaining scholars in the 2000-2010 top-25 come from an eclectic mix of non-English speaking countries: Finland, Hong Kong, Japan and Brazil. The world of Business & Management has become truly international!

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. Whilst inaccuracies are unfortunate for individual academics, they cannot be avoided. All data sources have some level of inaccuracy.

With more than 200,000 academics included in the list, some inaccuracies are bound to be present. Individual scholars can avoid this by checking and if necessary, correcting their 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 15-30 minutes a year.

In addition, 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 most 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. 

Find the resources on my website useful?

I cover all the expenses of operating my website privately. If you enjoyed this post and want to support me in maintaining my website, consider buying a copy of one of my books (see below) or supporting the Publish or Perish software.

Aug 2022:

Nov 2022:

Feb 2023:

May 2023:

August 2023:


Related video

Related blog posts