IFSAM conversation letters

IFSAM Conversation Letter 2 – March 24, 2021

On the Second Webinar, February 24, 2021

of IFSAM Webinar Series on Management Research Evaluation

Following the first webinar on Jan 29 with representatives of different stakeholders in the field, the second webinar on Feb 24 gathered the views of representatives of the stakeholder group of university presidents and management school deans from around the world. We summarize next some of the key insights they each brought.

Idalene “Idie” Kesner (Indiana University, US – Kelley School of Business dean) argued that the identification of scholarly quality in scientific journals is still key in legitimating, protecting and supporting the reputation of business schools. Ranked lists of journals are an important metric to inform the evaluation processes made by school administrators and faculty members (university competitiveness, faculty members’ performance, individual career paths and compensation, etc.).


IFSAM 2nd webinar

Questions & Answers

1- How to effectively include books (research handbooks, edited books and textbooks), in addition to journal articles, in the selection, tenure and promotion processes?

2- How to effectively capture the multidimensionality of management research quality (scientific rigor & contribution and organizational/managerial/societal relevance) into a synthetic measure?

3- How to effectively promote (more) contextualized research in different parts of the world to enable the generation of contextualized knowledge which can be appropriate/relevant to each context, avoiding isomorphism (towards elite publications’ format and goals/content) and overproduction of studies using the same available datasets?

4- How to effectively stimulate interdisciplinary work for our field of management which is by definition a multidisciplinary field of inquiry?


IFSAM Conversation Letter 1 – February 15 2021

On the First Webinar, January 29, 2021

of IFSAM Webinar Series on Management Research Evaluation

The first IFSAM conversation letter (ICL) is devoted to the insights of our first webinar on Jan 29 2021 on management research evaluation worldwide: https://www.ifsam.org/blog/2021/01/29/first-webinar/

This first conversation is between one article kindly written by Andrew Jack and another by the co-chairs of the webinar, Patricia Genoe McLaren and Xavier Castañer. It was released prior to our next webinar in this series on February 24: https://www.ifsam.org/blog/2021/01/30/second-webinar/

An ICL will follow each webinar with the core insights of the session.

In December 2020, the Financial Times (FT) launched a survey to solicit feedback on the list of 50 journals it uses to determine the research rank of business schools (known as the FT50 journal list) and more broadly asking for input on different ways of measuring the quality and impact of management research from both individual academics and deans in management schools. This triggered an asymmetric response across the world, in particular, as regards to scholarly associations of management as well as the editors of their journals.

Academics around the world subsequently received emails from learned societies’ presidents and journal editors asking them to complete the survey, with some encouraging them to identify their journals as critical to the FT50 list.

The IFSAM executive committee was concerned with aspects of the survey, particularly with the section on identifying the valuable journals, and felt strongly that this procedure was asymmetrically reaching the field. The launching of the survey, and the various responses it generated, gave fresh impetus to the thorny issue of how best to judge the quality of management research and publications.

As part of its response to addressing the issue, IFSAM decided to organize a series of webinars dedicated to examining various aspect of the evaluation of management research, the first of which was held on January 29, 2021. Andrew Jack, the Global Education Editor for the Financial Times, was joined by a select group of presidents of scholarly associations of management, management journal editors, and research-focused academic administrators.


Xavier Castañer, President Elect, International Federation of Scholarly Associations of Management (IFSAM) – xavier.castaner@unil.ch

Patricia Genoe McLaren, President, Administrative Sciences Association of Canada – pmclaren@wlu.ca 


Xavier Castañer, President Elect, International Federation of Scholarly Associations of Management (IFSAM)

Patricia Genoe McLaren, President, Administrative Sciences Association of Canada


Herman Aguinis, Professor at George Washington U; President Elect, Academy of Management

Jerry Davis, Professor at U. of Michigan, former ASQ EiC; Founding Member, Responsible Research in Business and Management Network

Gerardine Doyle, Associate Director, UCD Business School; President, European Institute for Advanced Studies in Management

Henrich R. Greve, Editor in Chief, Administrative Science Quarterly, 2016-2020

Andrew Jack, Global Education Editor, Financial Times

Silke Machold, Dean of Research, University of Wolverhampton, UK

Zhen Tang, Associate Dean of Research, Business School, Hohai University, China

Alessandro Zattoni, Director of Management Department, Luiss University; President, International Corporate Governance Society; former co-editor of CGIR

When the Financial Times launched a questionnaire late last year on how it assesses academic research, it unleashed a fierce reaction.

Editors and the professional bodies behind some publications got in touch to plead the case for inclusion of their particular journals in the FT50 list, and circulated petitions via email, online and via social media to urge their contributors and supporters to lobby on their behalf.

Professors wrote in to express concerns about manipulation. One blog argued: “Journal mafias are rallying to make their journals remain and/or join the FT journal ranking. They’ve been sending unashamed e-mail messages to their affiliates asking to favourably answer an on-line survey.”

IFSAM itself announced a webinar with a statement saying it was “concerned” about the process, which it characterised as a “vote” on scientific and practitioner journals. It criticised an “apparently democratic procedure which is asymmetrically reaching the field”.

I was happy to engage in that discussion, as part of an extensive broader range of consultations that we have launched with business schools and those who interact with them – from students and recruiters, to external individuals and organisations that speak at, train with or seek the best thought leadership from academia.

The FT recognises and takes very seriously its relationship with business schools, and the rigour with which it attempts to assess them through both quantifiable measures such as our rankings and qualitatively through extensive wider reporting. We are mindful that the FT50 is widely used and has an influence in publishing, recruitment, promotion and funding.


Andrew Jack, Global Education Editor, Financial Times – respbus@ft.com