Top-50 academics in Business & Management worldwide: new 2021 ranking

Discusses a new individual ranking based on Scopus citations as well as some concrete suggestions for changing performance appraisal

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 why the myth of the "lone genius" is dangerous).

Recently, I have argued that our academic performance appraisal systems need to change to incorporate what academics do to support their (junior) colleagues. You can watch the entire YouTube video here. 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 last year that I was highly ranked in a citation ranking based on Scopus data (see last year's ranking here), 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 186,000 academics were included.

The ranking also removed self-citations, which varied quite dramatically across the author-set; mine were 4.45% - well below the average of 13.49% - 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.

  • Baas, Jeroen; Boyack, Kevin; Ioannidis, John P.A. (2021), “August 2021 data-update for "Updated science-wide author databases of standardized citation indicators"”, Mendeley Data, V3, doi: 10.17632/btchxktzyw.3

Creating a 2021 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 689 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. There are relatively few changes since last year. Half of the academics stayed in the same place, or changed just one place, with another quarter changing two places. Six academics dropped out of the ranking as less than 70% of their work was now published in Economics & Business. Two academics passed that threshold this year and were newly ranked.

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 to count as a scholar in this field. 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.

I was very pleased to see that I had improved my own position from #50 last year to #44 this year. It is particularly poignant for me to be ranked between Sumantra Ghoshal, who greatly influenced my PhD topic (see Writing laudations or obituaries?), and Peter Buckley, who influenced my early career by publishing my PhD manuscript in his Horizons in International Business series (see Managing the Multinationals: An international study of control mechanisms).

Increasing diversity over the years

As is immediately evident, most highly-cited researchers (31 out of the top-50) are affiliated with US institutions. This number has declined from last year as four of the six new entrants (Peter Buckley, Nick Bontis, Henrich Greve, and Yehuda Baruch) are affiliated with non-US universities.

Of the remaining nineteen, nine (incl. myself) were affiliated with UK institutions, four worked in Canada and one each worked in Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Singapore and Sweden. 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).

Eight of the top-50 academics are female; three of these are affiliated with non-US universities. I was particularly pleased to see that - when compared with last year's top-50 - all three academics that rose more than 5 places were female non-US academics: Sabine Sonntag (from #39 to #31), Evangelia Demerouti (from #43 to #32) and myself (from #50 to #44).

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