Academic journal article Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship

Who Is Talking to Whom? the Network of Intellectual Influence in Management Research

Academic journal article Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship

Who Is Talking to Whom? the Network of Intellectual Influence in Management Research

Article excerpt

Executive Summary

Expanding recent interest in management journals, we addressed the question of "who is talking to whom" by modeling the social network of management scholars using citation patterns between 23 management journals over a five-year period. Using cluster analysis, we found that there are a number of distinct sub-networks of journals, where the exchange of knowledge is greater within than across groups. These sub-networks appear to be determined by thematic, methodological, geographic and practical-orientation differences. Understanding those networks should enable those using management journals to focus and hopefully simplify their reading efforts.


Although scholarly management journals have been around for well over half a century, interest in those journals recently has increased in part because of their role in academic personnel matters and in part because of their role in management education. As the management field has developed and particularly since the Ford and Carnegie reports (Gordon & Howell, 1959; Pierson, 1959), management has matured as an academic field, bringing with it a proliferation of journals. As the field became more scholarly and focused on basic research, new criticisms emerged noting its lack of relevance to the "real world" (Porter & McKibben, 1988). As the debate over basic versus applied research continues (e.g. McKelvey, 2006; Van de Ven & Johnson, 2006; Walsh, Tushman, Kimberly, Starbuck, & Ashford, 2007), the field has developed journals that seem to serve different target audiences. The increased specialization and fragmentation of journals raises interesting questions about the role of journals as a conduit for the development of management research, their influence on the flows of knowledge within the field of management, and their utility to those striving to keep up-to-date with developments within the field of management..

Historically the interest in journals has been predominantly on ranking or rating journals as publication outlets (Coe & Weinstock, 1984; Extejt & Smith, 1990; Hotard, Tanner, & Manakyan, 1996; Saladin, 1985; Sharplin & Mabry, 1985; Van Fleet, Mc Williams, & Siegel, 2000; Weinstock & Coe, 1969), but more recently has expanded to a variety of other issues. Journals have been studied to trace the development of a field (Franke, Edlund, & Oster, 1990). Historical publication patterns of leading journals have been studied (Mowday, 1997; Van Fleet, 2006). Journals have been studied as producers of knowledge using classic economic production functions (McWilliams, Siegel, &Van Fleet, 2005). Citation analysis has been conducted of management journals to and from those in social science or other business disciplines (Bedeian, 2005; Biehl, Kim, & Wade, 2006; Lockert & McWilliams, 2005). Reviewing processes have been discussed (Agarwal, Echambadi, Franco, & Sarkar, 2006; Baruch, Sullivan, & Schepmyer, 2006; Miller, 2006; Tsang & Frey, 2007) and the "scholarly ability" or scientific achievements of editorial-board members have been analyzed (Bedeian, Van Fleet, & Hyman, 2009). An additional way to shed light on how management has developed as an academic field of inquiry is to examine citation patterns across major management journals to answer the question, "Who is talking to whom?"

Answering the question "Who is talking to whom?" in the field of management research is both interesting and important, because knowledge is transferred across and between networks comprised of scholars who contribute to academic journals, read them, and learn from them, i.e. by "talking" to each other as well as by practitioners who also read and learn from those journals. The intended purpose of publications in academic journals is to impart knowledge to others, including colleagues, students and practitioners. Therefore, as business schools proliferate and new journals are introduced, we would expect more opportunity for individual scholars to reach broader markets. …

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