Journal of Business Economics

, Volume 89, Issue 3, pp 273–290 | Cite as

You get what you ‘pay’ for: academic attention, career incentives and changes in publication portfolios of business and economics researchers

  • Adam Ayaita
  • Kerstin Pull
  • Uschi Backes-GellnerEmail author
Original Paper


Since the 1990s, research on publication outputs in business and economics has almost exclusively focused on journal articles. While earlier work has shown that journal articles and other publications were indeed complements in the 70s and 80s, we find that this is no longer the case when we include the most recent decades. Apparently, the notable shift in the scientific community’s attention in the 90s on journal articles and the corresponding incentives towards publications in internationally highly ranked journals on average led researchers to focus one-sidedly on journal publications at the expense of other publication forms. To see whether the aggregate result also holds for individual researchers, we perform a cluster analysis and find four different types of individual researchers: “Journal Specialists”, “Book-Based Publishers”, a small group of “Highly Productive All-round Publishers” and a large group of what we call “Inconspicuous” researchers, with a very modest publication productivity in all forms. In addition, we find that researchers’ age matters for their publication patterns: in our sample, more experienced researchers are less productive with respect to journal articles, but more productive with respect to other publication forms. This, however, is not the result of an individual career effect. Rather, it can be attributed to a cohort effect: among today’s active researchers, the younger cohorts are more productive in journal articles than the older ones. Our explanation is as follows: the younger cohorts were still in their socialization and hiring phase and were more strongly affected by the newly introduced incentives towards international journal publications—and have thus reacted more strongly to the “regime change” resulting from the scientific community’s one-sided attention to publications in internationally highly ranked journals.


Research productivity Publication forms Journal articles 

JEL Classification

A14 I23 J24 



The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF-program “Wissenschaftsökonomie”, Grant number: 01PW11008). The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research had no impact on study design, collection, analysis or interpretation of the data or the writing of the manuscript. We thank Alessandra Lehmann who supported the data collection. For many valuable comments and suggestions we thank participants of the Annual Conference of the Division on Higher Education Studies (Kommission Hochschulmanagement) in the German Academic Association for Business Research (VHB), the 18th Colloquium on Personnel Economics and the Annual Meeting of the Economics of Education Session (Bildungsökonomischer Ausschuss) of the German Economic Association (VfS). We also thank two anonymous referees. Of course, any remaining mistakes are our responsibility.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adam Ayaita
    • 1
  • Kerstin Pull
    • 1
  • Uschi Backes-Gellner
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.University of Tuebingen and LEAD Graduate School & Research NetworkTuebingenGermany
  2. 2.Insitute for Business Administration, University of ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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