Gender and geographical diversity in the editorial board of the Journal of International Business Studies
Prof. Isabel Metz, Melbourne Business School
© Copyright 2011-2017 Anne-Wil Harzing and Isabel Metz. All rights reserved.
First version, 10 July 2011 - Second version, 17 April 2017
A revised version of the 2011 version of this white paper was published in AIB Insights.
- Harzing, A.W.; Metz, I. (2011) Gender and geographical diversity in the editorial board of the Journal of International Business Studies, AIB Insights, vol. 11, no. 3, pp. 3-7.
This white paper shows that, over the years, the editorial board of the Journal of International Business Studies (JIBS) has steadily increased in terms of both geographic and gender diversity. We also show that editors have a very significant impact on the level of diversity of the editorial board. With nearly every newly appointed editor, both geographic and gender diversity increased. However, it appears that non-traditional editorial board membership needs to be actively monitored if it is not to slip back to traditionally low levels. We draw two general conclusions from our case study. First, diversity and increasing journal reputation can coincide. Second, instituting a rotating editorship might benefit geographic and gender diversity.
Keywords: editorial boards, gender diversity, geographic diversity, international business
Editorial board members of academic journals are often considered the gatekeepers of knowledge, because they have significant influence on what is published and, hence, what informs theory development, research and practice (e.g., Braun & Diospatonyi 2005; Raelin 2008). Therefore, editorial boards should be sufficiently diverse in their backgrounds to facilitate the publication of manuscripts with a wide range of research paradigms and methods (Özbilgin 2004; Feldman 2008).
A decade ago, we embarked on a large-scale study of gender and geographic diversity in editorial boards of Management journals (see Metz & Harzing, 2009, 2012; Harzing & Metz, 2012, 2013). This short paper looks in detail at the development of gender and geographic diversity over time for the International Business community’s flagship journal: Journal of International Business Studies (JIBS).
For our main research project we collected data for 57 journals for 1989, 1994, 1999, 2004, and 2009. Five-year gaps in the data collected were chosen to allow time for changes to occur, while generating enough data points over the 20 year period studied. For JIBS, we supplemented this analysis by collecting yearly data from 2000 onwards, initially until 2011, with an update in 2017 to include 2012-2017 data. The composition of editorial boards was taken from the first issue of the year in question and all editorial board (EB) members were coded for country and gender.
The country was determined based on the EB member’s current university affiliation. Obviously, this coding method does not always accurately reflect the nationality of the EB member in question, as many academics work in a country different from their country of origin. However, we assume that embeddedness in particular networks would be based as much on current location as on the academic’s country of origin. Moreover, without collecting detailed information on the actual career histories and networks of all editorial board members, it would be impossible to establish whether current or home country networks are stronger.
For this paper, we distinguish between non-US editorial board membership and non-Anglo editorial board membership. The first includes all editorial board members not affiliated with a US university. The second includes all editorial board members not affiliated with a US, Canadian, British, Irish, Australian or New Zealand university. Gender was determined based on the editorial board member’s given name wherever possible. If first/given names were gender neutral, we were always able to ascertain gender through an Internet search.
Size of the editorial board
Immediately apparent from Figure 1 is the rapidly increasing size of the JIBS editorial board. Between 1989 and 2006, the size of the editorial board has increased five-fold, from 30 to nearly 150 editorial board members. In particular, substantial increases took place in 1994, 1999, 2003 and 2005. In most cases, these coincided with a (recent) change in editorship. However, the board increased also by 40 members mid-way Arie Lewin’s term.
Figure 1: Increase in size of the JIBS editorial board over time
Since 2006, the size of the JIBS editorial board has hovered around 150. This substantial increase in EB size over the years mirrors the general trend in our overall sample of 57 journals, where the average size of the editorial board increased steadily over the years from 40 academics in 1989 to 64 in 2004, jumping to 87 in 2009. However, the size of the editorial board for JIBS was below average in 1989, but well above average in 2004 and 2009.
In 2009 JIBS had the 10th largest editorial board in our sample, placing it in the company of journals such as Strategic Management Journal, Academy of Management Journal, and Management Science. Most mainstream management journals seem to have large editorial boards, no doubt to cope with the large and increasing number of articles submitted to these journals. After more than a decade of hovering around 150, the EB size again increased very substantially to 200 with the most recent change of editorship.
In terms of geographic diversity Figure 2 shows that the proportion of non-US board members at JIBS has more than doubled over time, from just over 26.7% in 1989 to 48.3% in 2009 and 56.5% in 2017. In 2009, the last year for which we have comparative data, JIBS had a lower proportion of US editorial board membership than nearly all of the 38 US-based journals in our sample. Only International Studies of Management & Organization (ISMO), Journal of World Business (JWB) and Industrial Marketing Management (IMM) had lower proportions of US board membership.
ISMO has always had a very geographically diverse editorial board, probably reflecting the long-standing editor’s European heritage. JWB has substantially increased its geographic diversity since 1994 (when it had a 100% US board membership). We suspect that one of the main reasons for this increase at JWB is due to the decision made in 1999 by the new editor-in-chief to appoint associate editors not only for content areas, but also for geographic areas (Asia-Pacific and Europe). In the case of IMM, the large non-US board membership accompanied the substantial increase in the size of the editorial board between 2004 and 2009 (from 96 to 247).
Figure 2: Increase in geographic and gender diversity of the JIBS editorial board over time [black markers signifying a change of editorship].
What is even more interesting is the development over time with regard to Anglo (i.e., Canadian, British, Irish, Australian or New Zealand) versus non-Anglo non-US board members. In 1989, virtually all non-US board members came from Anglophone countries. There was only one non-Anglo board member (INSEAD Professor Yves Doz, who is a Harvard PhD graduate and worked at Harvard University for four years in the late 70s). Over time, the proportion of non-US Anglo board members (not shown in Figure 2) remained fairly stable, hovering around 20%, whilst (as shown in Figure 2) the growth in non-US board membership came mostly from non-Anglo countries.
The proportion of non-Anglo board members experienced a steep increase in 2003 to nearly 30%, though - as we will see below - a significant proportion of this increase was due to Anglo academics working at INSEAD. Unfortunately over the next four years the proportion of non-Anglo board members almost reverted back to pre-2003 levels. However, since 2008 there has been a slow, but steady increase. Only in 2013 and 2017 did the proportion of non-Anglo board members decline, but in 2017 it is still higher than at any stage in JIBS' history except for 2016.
In 2011, non-US AIB membership made up 61.1% of its membership, whereas this proportion was 69.4% in 2017. Hence, at 46.9% in 2011 and 56.5% in 2017, the JIBS editorial board was still not fully representative of the geographic diversity of the International Business community. However, the gap has certainly narrowed between 2011 and 2017.
A more fine grained analysis shows that non-US Anglo board members (i.e., Canadian, British, Irish, Australian or New Zealand academics) are - just like US board members - over-represented in the JIBS editorial board when compared to their AIB membership. Therefore, it appears that the major underrepresentation at JIBS is still amongst non-US non-Anglo members. However, many of the non-US AIB members might have joined recently and are likely to be employed at a junior level. Hence, it might take some time before these non-US non-Anglo AIB members qualify for editorial board membership.
The gender diversity of the JIBS’ editorial board has similarly increased over the years, reaching nearly 27% in 2011 and no less than 35% in 2017. It was already fairly high in 1989 (13.3%), when in fact JIBS’ proportion of female editorial board members was higher than the average for our journal set (9.4%). However, the 1989 proportion was based on only four female editorial board members. In 1994, with only 3.3% female editorial board membership, JIBS dipped well below our sample’s average for that year (13.7%). Since 1994, female editorial board membership increased again, most notably in 2002, 2003, and 2011 (see Figure 2).
Female membership for AIB is not known with accuracy. However, using 2011 and 2017 membership data kindly supplied by the AIB secretariat, we sampled 100 WAIB (Women in the Academy of International Business) members and 100 non-WAIB members. Based on the gender distribution in these groups, we would estimate the proportion of female AIB members to be around 25% in 2011 and 35% in 2017. Hence, the JIBS editorial board appears to be largely representative of the gender composition of AIB membership.
Major changes in editorial board membership tend to take place only after a new editor is appointed. A steep increase in both non-US board membership and female editorial board membership is recorded in 1999, most likely dating from the appointment of Thomas Brewer as the new editor in 1997. However, over the duration of this editor’s tenure, both the proportion of non-US board members and the proportion of female editorial board members declined slightly again, as the very gradual increase in the size of the board mainly came from new male US board members. The modest increase of the editorial board in 2002, however, was nearly entirely composed of female US board members. In sum, whilst geographic diversity declined gradually, gender diversity increased from a low base.
With the appointment of Arie Lewin in 2003, another significant increase in non-US board membership occurred. In this particular year, the proportion of Anglo non-US board members declined, whilst the proportion of new non-Anglo non-US board members increased sharply. It must be said though that half of the increase of non-Anglo non-US board members consisted of INSEAD academics, which in many cases were academics with an Anglo background. Gender diversity also increased sharply in 2003. In fact, this year saw the largest proportional increase in female board membership in JIBS’ history with the number of female editorial board members increasing from 10 to 21.
However, we again see a steady decline in the proportion of non-US board members – and in particular of non-Anglo non-INSEAD board members – over the duration of the editor’s tenure. This was partly due to the increase of the EB size without a corresponding increase in the proportion of non-US board members. Over the years (2003-2007) the editorial board increased from 87 to 151 members. However, the number of non-US non-Anglo board members remained fairly stable and, hence, the increase came mainly from US and Anglo non-US board members. Gender diversity fared slightly better, but even in this regard there was a slight decline over the time of the editor’s tenure. It appears that non-traditional board membership needs to be actively monitored if it is not to slip back to traditionally low levels.
When Lorraine Eden was appointed mid 2007, non-US board membership (and in particular non-Anglo non-INSEAD board membership) experienced another steep increase. INSEAD board membership decreased from its peak of 7-8% in 2003-2005 to just over 1% in 2008. This year saw the largest increase in non-Anglo non-INSEAD board membership in JIBS’ history with the number of non-Anglo non-INSEAD board members increasing from 21 to 35. In terms of gender diversity, there was an increase in the proportion of female editorial board members (albeit only a small one). In contrast to the two previous editorial periods, geographic diversity did not decline during this editor’s tenure. However, gender diversity declined slightly because the small shrinking of the editorial board over this editor’s tenure was mostly made up of women.
Under the 2011 editorial team – John Cantwell and Mary Yoko Brannen – we again find a similar pattern: both geographic and gender diversity received a boost. In terms of geographic diversity, the increasing proportion of non-US board membership is particularly notable. Whereas during the prior editor's term, the number of non-Anglo and non-US Anglo board members was fairly equal, in 2011 the number of non-Anglo non-INSEAD board members (42) considerably exceeds the number of non-US Anglo board (27) members. Female editorial board membership reached historically high levels as well. Moreover, for the first time in JIBS’ history, it is now similar to the proportion of female AIB members. Most encouragingly, both geographic and gender diversity continued to increase during this editorial team's tenure, defying the trend found in previous editorships.
In 2017 Alain Vebeke's appointment coincided with a small decline in terms of geographic diversity, caused solely by a decline in non-Anglo board membership. However, it should be noted that this was accompanied by a fairly dramatic increase in the size of the editorial board. Moreover, Verbeke did appoint 10 new non-Anglo non-INSEAD board members, which - in absolute numbers - constituted the second largest increase in JIBS' history. Finally, in spite of this slight decline geographic diversity in 2017 is still higher than at any other year in JIBS' history except for 2016. In terms of gender diversity the new editorship continued the trend of steadily increasing female board membership since 2011.
So far, it is too early to tell whether the gradual decline in non-US board membership and/or female editorial board membership, evident after the three of the four previous changes in editorship, will recur. But even if it does, both the representation of non-US board and the representation of female editorial members have, overall, experienced a significant upward trend at JIBS.
Our brief paper has shown that over the years the JIBS editorial board has steadily increased its geographic and gender diversity. In terms of geographic diversity, the proportion of non-US editorial board members at JIBS has more than doubled over time. In 2009, JIBS already had a lower proportion of US editorial board membership than nearly all of the 38 US-based journals in our sample. The gender diversity of the JIBS’ editorial board has similarly increased over the years and from 2003 onwards, the proportion of female editorial board membership at JIBS has been above the average for our journal set.
Female editorial board membership is now very similar to the (estimated) proportion of female AIB members. However, in spite of the increase of non-US editorial board members, AIB members from non-Anglo countries are still underrepresented on the JIBS editorial board. This might be caused by a pipe-line effect. We believe that many of the non-Anglo members may have joined recently and are at a relatively junior level. Typically, junior academics in non-Anglo countries are more aware than their senior colleagues of the need to connect to international academic networks to be known in their field. Hence, it might take some time before these AIB members are invited to be editorial board members. It is clear though that non-Anglo editorial board membership has increased more rapidly in recent years.
We also showed that editors influence the level of diversity of the editorial board, a finding discussed in much more detail in our most recent publication (Metz, Harzing & Zyphur, 2016). With every newly appointed editor, both geographic and gender diversity increased. Initially, non-US editorial board membership was mainly drawn from Anglophone countries (i.e., Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia or New Zealand) or institutions (i.e., INSEAD). However, under two of the three most recent editorial teams non-Anglo board membership increased dramatically.
Finally, our analysis showed that although all editors increased the diversity of the editorial board at the start of their terms, non-traditional (i.e., non-US and female) editorial board membership often regressed at a later stage during their tenures. It appears that non-traditional editorial board membership needs to be actively monitored if it is not to slip back to traditionally low levels.
Based on our examination of the JIBS editorial board membership over the last 29 years, we draw several broad conclusions and make recommendations. First, in contrast to what Stremersch & Verhoef (2005) find for top Marketing journals, the JIBS case shows that an emphasis on diversity in editorial boards - and as a result diversity in terms of authors - can coincide with achieving high impact. JIBS has consistently increased its relative standing in the field of business and management. Although we are fully cognizant of the many drawbacks of the journal impact factor measure (see Harzing, 2010), it does provide some comparative information on the extent to which the average article in a journal is cited. In 2001, JIBS was ranked 19th in Management and 21st in Business, whilst in 2015 - the latest available year - its position had risen to 18th in Management and 12th in Business. It would have ranked higher in the Management category in 2015 if it wasn't for the presence of several review journals and Psychology journals, both of which traditionally have substantially higher journal impact factors than regular Management journals. Hence, at the same that the JIBS editorial board became more diverse, the relative standing of the journal also increased. Whilst we do not wish to imply causality, it is clear that diversity and high standing can go hand in hand.
Second, from our JIBS case study it is evident that the appointment of each new editor provides an impetus to increasing both geographic and gender diversity in the editorial board. Our large-scale study also shows that journals with rotating editorship, in general, have more diverse editorial boards than boards with non-rotating editors. In fact, this influence of a new editor on editorial board diversity is especially evident for gender diversity, with journals that have the same editor since inception usually showing the worst records in terms of gender diversity.
Hence, these findings support the case for limiting the length of an editor’s term on the basis that new editors might bring with them new experiences and perspectives that result in positive change. The increasingly high burden on editors through constantly rising submission rates, and the resultant negative impact an editorship might have on their research output (Aguinis, de Bruin, Cunningham, Hall, Culpepper & Gottfredson, 2010), suggests that limiting the length of the editor’s term might be beneficial for the editor’s own professional and personal wellbeing.
In conclusion, the geographical and gender diversity of editorial boards can increase (and has increased) over time, but this increase needs to be continually managed. Specifically, it is important to regularly monitor the geographic and gender diversity of the boards of scholarly journals to raise awareness and achieve sustained positive change.
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Copyright © 2020 Anne-Wil Harzing. All rights reserved. Page last modified on Tue 26 May 2020 13:53
Anne-Wil Harzing is Professor of International Management at Middlesex University, London and visiting professor of International Management at Tilburg University. She is a Fellow of the Academy of International Business, a select group of distinguished AIB members who are recognized for their outstanding contributions to the scholarly development of the field of international business. In addition to her academic duties, she also maintains the Journal Quality List and is the driving force behind the popular Publish or Perish software program.