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International comparative evaluation of North-American and German research output in business and management.

Key Results

In contrast to other studies the results indicate that there is no significant gap between the overwhelming research output of North-American scholars and the performance of their German counterparts.

It should be noted, however, that the participation of German academics in the international competition, i.e. their publication intensity in world-wide established journals, still needs to be improved.

Theoretical Background

A critical variable for positioning an academic discipline in the international competitive arena is her contribution to the progress of knowledge. In the European context it is assumed that German research output in business administration is in the lead. On the other hand, it has been suggested that along with other disciplines German business administration has lost ground in the international, mostly U.S. driven competition (Wild 1981, p. 727 et seq., Ratzer 1984, p. 223 et seq., Daniel and Fisch 1986, p. 151 et seq.). Based on a complex system of determinants for this perceived phenomenon a number of hypotheses have been generated; they cover a wide spectrum from personal attributes ("sacred spark thesis") to the institutional conditions of academic work ("accumulative advantage framework") (Wanner, Lewis and Gregorio 1981, p. 238 et seq., Fox 1983, p. 285 et seq., Rau and Hummel 1988, p. 244).

In particular, the combination of institutional conditions seems to have led to a marked distance between the research output of U.S. and German-speaking schools with the latter limping behind. Ratzer (1984, p. 233 et seq.) argues that among the hard factors to be considered the force of structural conditions in German universities has brought about a situation hostile to research. There are more incentives to consulting, management training or writing textbooks than engaging in research (Ratzer 1984, p. 228 et seq.). Factors such as the elimination of certain elements of academic salaries, i.e. the number of students as a salary base and the harmonization of salaries for teaching and research, are viewed as causes for the negligence of research. As the research budgets of German universities are smaller than those in the U.S., German universities have a strategic disadvantage which naturally leads to a poorer research output. Also the establishment of democratic structures and participative decision-making in universities has led to an increase of the administrative burden on the faculty; thus other activities, particularly research, have had to be reduced.

In regards to the methodology, the characteristics feature of these types of international comparative studies is that most of them employ qualitative designs, often based on subjective assessments. Although the quantitative analysis of research productivity seems to have gained in importance only recently (cf. for instance Fisch and Daniel 1986, Daniel and Fisch 1988, Hufner, Hummel and Rau 1987, Backes-Gellner 1989, 1992, Hufner and Rau 1989, Macharzina, Wolf and Oesterle 1993), attempts to utilize such methodology for international comparisons are still the exception. The main reason for this seems to be a communication problem; inspite of the fact that there were early attempts at qualitative and quantitative evaluation in the field of social sciences within national contexts, results were not often communicated to the wider international community and, as a result, were not utilized in the development of more sophisticated instruments for the evaluation of research.

Following these early attempts, the improvement of research tools was largely influenced by studies looking at methodological problems related to the collection, analysis and evaluation or research achievements (Rau and Hummel 1988, p. 244). Increasing awareness of the existence of methodological problems seems to have been the major motive for gradually engaging in cross-national comparisons of research productivity in recent years. These attempts, however, were complicated by the difficulty of comparing the respective structures of the different national scientific systems. The situation seems to be improving in that at least there is now a broader belief that despite the imponderabilities embedded in international productivity comparisons it is necessary to undertake steps in this direction. With a view to the further internationalization in almost all sectors of life the increasing transparency of a national scientific system must logically be followed by an assessment of research in the international context based on hard facts.

A recent empirical study on the research efficiency of German and U.S. management departments (Backes-Gellner 1992), that was guided by this kind of comprehension, puts into perspective the assumption of an overall superiority of the U.S. research which has been supported by qualitative studies. Our own quantitative longitudinal study of the research output of business administration in the North-American sector compared to the German-speaking region reveals further insights which do away with the widely held opinion about the existence of a "research gap" between North-American and German business administration.

Methodology and Data Base

As was pointed out above the concept of research productivity has been approached in the national context from the qualitative and quantitative angle (Barry 1990, p. 53 et seq.). The qualitative evaluation is based on the subjective perception or judgement of journals by fellow-academicians. The journals are compared using criteria such as status, image or prestige; based on this perception the quality of the contributions in a journal is assessed. This method suffers from the problem of a circular conclusion, because the prestige of a journal, as a rule, is the result of the quality of contributions published in it. Another approach that has been adopted is a quality-oriented, quantitative analysis related to individual authors. This method, which measures the frequency of an author's citations by other authors in a certain period, is similar to the functioning of the Social Sciences Citation Index. The more frequent the citations, the higher the assumption of the quality of the respective contribution of an author. Apart from the criticized weaknesses of this method which are related to citation cartels, the (self-)citation-chain effect and the tendency of loosing property-rights in knowledge (Vandermeulen 1972, p. 466, Stigler and Friedland 1979, p. 1 et seq., Pommerehne and Renggli 1986, p. 96, Hufner et al. 1987, p. 53), experience tells us that sometimes contributions of the highest quality take a rather long time until appropriate recognition occurs by way of citation as is shown by the example of R. Coase "The Nature of the Firm" (Coase 1937).

It's often argued that the deficiencies of the qualitative concepts could be overcome by computing the number of pages of an article (Lerbinger 1985, p. 848 et seq., Hufner and Rau 1989, p. 728 et seq.). The performance measure of using the length of a contribution, however, has also some weaknesses as a reliable indicator, particularly when comparing journals with different editorial policies and styles with respect to the recommended length of an article. Also, length does not automatically relate to quality. For those reasons this measure cannot be regarded as a reliable indicator and was therefore neglected in the present analysis.

Another quantitative method would rest on calculating the number of contributions of authors in academic journals over a certain period of time. This method has the advantage of numerical objectivity and helps to avoid subjective biases and individual deficits in perception. Moreover, the qualitative dimension is taken into account implicitly when assuming that the (anonymous) reviewing process of prestigious journals guarantees to a certain extent the quality of publications. In the present analysis this method is applied in order to measure the research output in business administration. The data were collected computing the contributions in six major business and management research outlets in the German and North-American regions over a period of ten years from 1982 to 1991.

For the German-speaking area (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) the journals include

* Betriebswirtschaftliche Forschung und Praxis (BFuP)

* Die Betriebswirtschaft (DBW)

* Die Unternehmung (DU)

* Journal fur Betriebswirtschaft (JfB)

* Zeitschrift fur Betriebswirtschaft (ZfB)

* Zeitschrift fur betriebswirtschaftliche Forschung (ZfbF).

There are other journals specializing in functional areas such as marketing, organization, personnel, management accounting or taxation, but only those in the German-speaking and North-American regions that focus on general business administration were included in this analysis.

The reason for not confining the study just to Germany as a nation-state is that the German-speaking (referred to as "German" hereafter) business scholars of the three countries use these journals for their publications, and are indeed organized in a cross-national professional association, the "Association of University Teacher in Business Administration".

The North-American sample comprises a representative cross-section of the leading journals which are comparable to the German journals in content. The sample includes

* Academy of Management Journal (AMJ)

* Academy of Management Review (AMR)

* Administrative Science Quarterly (ASQ)

* Journal of Business (JoB)

* Journal of Business Research (JBR)

* Sloan Management Review (SMR).

Each journal was independently analyzed with respect to the extent the publications of German scholars in business and management occurred in comparison to their North-American counterparts (full, associate and assistant professors). Employing author-related calculations, publications written by only one author were rated with one point, while those with two authors were rated with each person receiving 0.5 points, three authors 0.33 points respectively etc.; furthermore only regular articles were accepted as a base of the assignment. Comments, reviews, lexical contributions or notes were not taken into account.

The German sample accounts for 2,229 articles and the North-American sample for 2,172. German professors of business and management received 943.86 points in total, i.e. 42% of all contributions. The remaining share breaks down into publications by research assistants (38%) and contributions by solicited practitioners (20%). North-American professors of business and management received a total of 1,641 points which translates into a share of professorial contributions of about 76% of all publications analyzed. Obviously, both U.S. -- and we suspect to an even larger extent -- German academic journals seem to follow editorial policies which aim at supplementing theoretical knowledge and empirical evidence by practical experience.

Results and Discussion

Internal Dispersion of the Samples

As far back as the 17th century information is available that proves quite a dispersion of individual productivity amongst scientists belonging to one discipline (Rau and Hummel 1988, p. 244); those dispersions were analyzed and recognized as stable structures. Based on these structures certain "laws" were deduced by way of mathematical representation. These laws -- for example by Lotka (1926) or Price (1976) -- suggest that only a fraction of all scientists produce the major part of scientific output. According to Price, the square root of the number of all scientists analyzed should correspond approximately to the number of extremely productive scholars. This "elite" would then be responsible for about 50% of all scientific products (Price 1976, p. 299). It is noteworthy, that in the present analysis this expected distribution could not be corroborated among the North-American and German samples. In both samples, only a tendency towards the formation of academic elites was proved in that 20% of the German business scholars contributed more than 50% of all publications, while the North-American sample shows a slightly lower concentration with 24% of the authors contributing 50% of all publications. Looking at the relative concentration in Figure 1, the North-American sample, compared to the German one, shows a higher degree of equal dispersion of research productivity.

This factor indicates that German business research obviously is influenced to a higher degree by elites than is the case in North-America. However, the level at which the specific formation of elites takes place, cannot be clarified by means of relative concentrations. For this purpose it is necessary to calculate the research output of every single scholar.

Author-related Comparison of Productivity

Within the national context almost no problems exist in ranking scholars by their publication frequency. Similar contextual conditions guarantee the essential requirement of comparability and thereby a strong evidence of the results of the analysis. International comparisons under different conditions, however, do allow only for cautious statements.

With respect to the present analysis this means that a ranking of North-American scholars, depending on the frequency of publications in the U.S.-American journals, only lends to a numerical evaluation of the research performance in a specific segment of the publication market. A direct and absolute comparison using these values with the corresponding ones of the German sample, however, would not even allow for approximations, let alone firm conclusions.

This is because the German data comprise the total population of the German publication market for business and management research based on the six journals, whereas the six U.S.-journals only plot a representative sample of the entire publication market for this kind of research. Moreover, because the difference in the sizes of the two samples with respect to the total number of scholars, it is necessary to adjust the results per single author using a correction factor; this takes into account the lower publication chances of North-American scholars compared to their German counterparts. In order to determine this factor, a two-stage procedure is chosen.

As a first step the total number of scholars in the North-American and German sectors has to be determined. Exact figures for the latter are readily available; Gaugler and Koppert (1990) indicate 549 professors of business or management respectively held positions in the German-speaking universities in 1989. An average numerical representation over the period of the investigation of 10 years was not considered because it was not possible to determine the corresponding value for North-America. Indeed the difficulty in calculating the supply and demand side of the North-American publication market in business research causes some problems for the comparative evaluation of the cross-national data sets.

According to the Digest of Educational Statistics the corresponding figure for the U.S. scholars is 25,530 professors (full, associate and assistant) in 1987 (last available data). This figure, of course, related to all 657 business schools. For the present purpose, it seems appropriate to focus only on the 250 accredited business schools. Estimating an average number of 50 professors per business school, the approximate total is 12,500; by adding an estimated number of 800 Canadian professors (membership of ASAC as a base) to this figure the North-American total comes to 13,300 professors.
Table 1. Ranking of the North-American Super-stars

Rank Author Appearances Adjusted

1 Hambrick Donald C. 8.00 24.07
2 Jones Gareth R. 7.00 21.06
3 Harrigan Kathryn Rudie 6.00 18.05
4 Provan Keith G. 5.50 16.55
5 Eisenhardt Kathleen M. 5.33 16.04
5 Fredrickson James W. 5.33 16.04
5 Mitchell Terence R. 5.33 16.04
5 Venkatraman N. 5.33 16.04
9 Miller Danny 5.17 15.55
10 Schweiger David M. 5.00 15.04
11 Dalton Dan R. 4.83 14.53
12 Ivancevich John M. 4.67 14.05
12 Pfeffer Jeffrey 4.67 14.05
14 Griffin Ricky W. 4.58 13.78
15 Astley W. Graham 4.50 13.54
15 Govindarajan Vijay 4.50 13.54
15 Mitroff Ian I. 4.50 13.54
15 O'Reilly III Charles A. 4.50 13.54
19 Mills Peter K. 4.08 12.28
20 Baysinger Barry D. 4.00 12.04
20 Boeker Warren 4.00 12.04
20 Carroll Glenn R. 4.00 12.04
20 Gupta Anil K. 4.00 12.04

Secondly these figures are to be set against the total number of articles published in the journals under study. In the German journals a total of 2,229 articles were printed. As mentioned above 943.86 out of these articels were written by professorial authors. This translates into a publication probability of 1.7192 articles per author (943.86 articles/549 professors).

The six journals chosen for the North-American sample and which are included in a potential publication volume of 25 high quality Journals (Cabell's Directory of Business and Economics) parallels the German sample the best in content. These journals publish an average number of 5 issues per volume with an average of 8 articles per issue. Over a period of 10 years the total amount of articles published comes to 10,000 (25 x 5 x 8 x 10). Based on a professorial publication share of approximately 76%, the calculated number of articles written by scholars comes to 7,600. This translates into a publication probability of 0.5714 articles per author (7,600 articles/13,300 professors). Dividing the German publication probability by the American one results in a value of 3.0088 (1.7192/0.5714). This value can be used as the correction factor for the lower publication chances of North-American authors. The American values shown in the first column of Table 1 are adjusted by this factor in order to eliminate the difference in publication possibilities in both regions.
Table 2. Ranking of the (Super)-stars of the German Speaking Area

Rank Author Appearances

1 Albach Horst 23.66
2 Brockhoff Klaus 15.50
3 Buhner Rolf 15.00
4 Koch Helmut 11.00
5 Schneider Dieter 10.00
6 Meffert Heribert 9.75
7 Kupper Hans-Ulrich 9.66
8 Chmielewicz Klaus 9.00
8 Drukarczyk Jochen 9.00
8 Seicht Gerhard 9.00
8 Wildemann Horst 9.00
12 Mertens Peter 8.61
13 Spremann Klaus 8.50
14 Steinmann Horst 8.15
15 Loitlsberger Erich 8.00
16 Simon Hermann 7.83
17 Drexl Andreas 7.50
17 Swoboda Peter 7.50
19 Hill Wilhelm 7.00
20 Kaas Klaus P. 6.50
20 Laux Helmut 6.50

A comparison of the respective top groups of the authors in Tables 1 and 2 points to a small deviation of the individual research performance.

Based on the adjusted values, few authors in each group have produced significantly more than one full length article a year. Applying the criterion of Bell and Seater (1978, p. 599 et seq.), according to which an author can be referred to as a "star" subject to having published more than one full-length article per year, some of the authors could be named "super-stars". Thus, based on the adjusted appearances the larger number of "super-stars" in North-America of itself increases the international visibility of North-American business scholars. This could be taken as an overt indicator for the perceived leadership of North-America in the area of business management.

It can be argued on the other hand that it is probably more appropriate not to use the Bell and Seater criterion for the transatlantic comparison because it had been defined for the North-American context anyway. The original values as shown in Table 1 then only could be used to identify the "star-scholars" of North-America.

Summary and Conclusions

The results of the study do not reveal any convincing indicators for a higher research productivity of North-American scholars in business and management over the Germans in general. On the contrary the top group of the German scholars can seriously compete with their American counterparts. However, compared to the American sample the differences in research performance between the German scholars are more distinct. Altogether it can be concluded that the German researchers would hold out in the transatlantic research competition if they could improve in communicating their research results internationally. A requirement for a growing international perception of German business research is to increase the effort to enter the publication market of English speaking prestigious journals. Only in this way can the natural advantage of North-American scholars be neutralized as their advantage lies in their ability to communicate research results in their native language, which at the same time is the globally dominating medium of the international scientific communication.


1 We would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their useful comments on our paper.


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Dr. Klaus Macharzina, Professor of Management, and Director, Center for Export and Technology Management (EXTEC), Universitat Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany; Dr. Michael-J. Oesterle, Research Associate, Center for Export and Technology Management (EXTEC).
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Author:Macharzina, Klaus; Oesterle, Michael-J.
Publication:Management International Review
Date:Jul 1, 1994
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