Let me invite you to travel in your mind to the year 2030. Imagine that you are one of the Senior Editors of MOR and have been asked by the Editor-in-Chief to write a short retrospective on the previous 15 years. Delighted to take on this task, you compose an editorial along these lines:
Dear MOR readers and contributors:
Thomson Reuters has just released its journal impact factor ranking for 2029. For the past five years, we have ranked in the top 15 out of 220 management journals, and last year, for the first time, we ranked fifth. This is a large improvement from 15 years ago, when we ranked at no. 33 out of 192 management journals. Even more positively, a recent poll by the Academy of Management, whose non-US membership has now exceeded 80% from a little over 50% in 2015, revealed that MOR has been found to be one of the top five journals that Academy of Management (AOM) members consistently read. In the qualitative section of the AOM survey, respondents offered comments such as:
‘If you want to get a deep understanding of key management problems that transforming economies face, then MOR is by far your best source’.
‘I was never much interested in Africa, but after reading the article in MOR that documented a genuinely new organizational form in Kenya, I was inspired to partner with a scholar at University of Nairobi to develop potentially new theoretical insights by comparing alliance governance practices in Kenya and in Brazil’.
‘Many of the top management scholars first try to get their work published in MOR. The journal has developed a reputation for publishing the freshest ideas. I think this is in large part because in MOR management scholars have more consistently partnered with scholars from non-obvious fields, such as urban planning, public policy, public administration, cultural anthropology, environmental engineering, and development studies, which proved particularly useful to understand Chinese management challenges’.
‘I follow MOR closely since there is always a good chance that I will come across an article that later turns out to be real blockbuster. This allows me to build on these creative articles before everyone else does’.
These statements are compelling evidence that MOR has developed a strong reputation beyond the narrow Thomson Reuters impact factor score, which fluctuates more from year to year at MOR than at other journals because of MOR’s long-standing strategy of cultivating blockbuster papers, rather than a continual series of incremental papers.
It would be foolish for us to think that MOR’s success is simply due to having recruited more brilliant editors than those at other journals. Clearly, elements of luck are involved in why MOR has become so influential that have little to do with the skills of past editorial teams. MOR benefited greatly from the general trend in which the countries regarded as transforming economies in 2015 (e.g., China, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Brazil, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Egypt) increased their share of the world economy much more rapidly than was predicted that year.
But we can also credit explicit strategies for MOR’s success: first, Arie Lewin’s (2014) push to broaden MOR from a China-focused journal to one focused on all transforming economies; second, a systematic push to motivate authors to write and submit papers that had the potential to push scholarship in a new direction; third, the development of an ethos that motivated editors and reviewers to go the extra mile to nurture creative papers even before they were submitted to the journal.
Looking to the future, our greatest challenge will be maintaining these strategies and not losing our cool when the impact factor drops for a year or two before another set of blockbuster papers raises it again. Today, let us celebrate what MOR has achieved over the past 15 years. Thanks are due to all the authors and editors who made this possible.
Now let us return to the here and now and discuss more explicitly some of the strategies that we have already put in place to increase the chances that MOR will become the home of blockbuster papers. Building on the themes of this imaginary 2030 editorial, I now want to articulate additional strategies that we should implement to attract more blockbuster papers.
Arie Lewin, Martin Kenney and Johann Peter Murmann edited a new book on China’s Innovation Challenge: Overcoming the Middle-Income Trap.
New March 2016: Download Fronter Matter and Introductory Chapter
The book will also feature contributions from Justin Yifu Lin, Gordon Redding, Michael Witt, Keun Lee, Douglas Fuller, John Child, Simon Collison, Yves Doz, Keeley Wilson, Silvia Massini, Keren Caspin-Wagner, Eliza Chilimoniuk-Przezdziecka, Weidong Xia, Mary Ann Von Glinow, Yingxia Li, Zhi-Xue Zhang and Weiguo Zhong, Chi-Yue Chiu, Shyhnan Liou, and Letty Y-Y. Kwan, and Rosalie Tung.
Join discussion and get updates on the book by following its Facebook Page.
A lot of Chinese researchers simply want to imitate how top American journals in formulating theories without boundary conditions. This sounds like doing good science but more often its leads to superficial analyses that do not explain what is happening in China. I was asked to write a commentary on an article by Child and Marinova (2014) in Management and Organization Review and this gave me a chance to reflect more broadly on choosing the appropriate level of abstraction in social science Research. The article is now published.
Reflections on Choosing the Appropriate Level of Abstraction in Social Science Research. 关于在社会科学研究中选择适当的抽象水平的反思
Abstract: Although researchers often do it subconsciously, every explanation involves choosing a level of abstraction at which the argument proceeds. The dominant North American style of research in Organization Theory, Strategy, and International Business encourages researchers to frame their explanations at the highest level of abstraction where country-level contextual factors are suppressed or ignored. Yet to provide powerful explanations for recent developments in China, researchers are drawn to a greater level of context specificity. This tension is evident in the Child and Marinova (2014) paper. One way to reduce the tension is to identify general causal mechanisms that combine in different ways to produce different results depending on context. This research strategy is more effective than seeking invariant, general patterns of development across all times and places.
Keywords: choosing level of abstraction;philosophy of social science;research design;research on industries;research on firms 选择抽象的水平;社会科学的哲学;研究设计;行业研究;企业研究