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A Citation Analysis of Business Ethics Research: A Global Perspective

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This study provides a global perspective on citations of articles published in ten business ethics journals between 1999 and 2012 and establishes three findings. First, the results indicate that Journal of Business Ethics and Business and Society are the two top business ethics journals based on the distribution of normalized citations received. Second, although North America, particularly the US, remains the top producer of business ethics research, it has been surpassed by Europe in terms of weighted normalized research citations received in 2012, implying a potential diminishing global role of US influence in business ethics research over time. Third, the top-ranked US institutions have reduced their business ethics research impact in recent years, while the European institutions have sharply increased theirs.

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  1. We gratefully acknowledge this suggestion made by a reviewer.

  2. Hirsch (2005) proposes the h-index, which measures the impact of a journal that has at least h citations from its h number of articles in a given year. Harzing and van der Wal (2008) suggest the h-index is a more accurate citation impact measure than the Social Science Citation Index (SSCI) journal impact factor. Egghe (2006) suggests the g-index as a modification of the h-index to consider both the over-cited works and overall citation consistency. Specifically, the g-index is derived from all articles of a journal which are “ranked in decreasing order of the number of citations that they received: the g-index is the (unique) largest number such that the top g articles received (together) a total at least g2 citations” [Egghe (2006), p. 131]. Sidiropoulos et al. (2007) propose the hc-index to account for the age of articles that appear in a journal. It places more weight on recently published articles. H-index, g-index, and hc-index approaches examine research quality at the journal level.

  3. The Journal of Accounting, Ethics, and Public Policy included in Serenko and Bonis (2009) ceased publication and the Business and Professional Ethics Journal is not included in this study.

  4. We argue that the coercive citation practice among business ethics journals should not be a problem. Unlike other disciplines with a large number of journals, business ethics has only a small number of journals in which citations tend to concentrate within a few journals. Naturally, authors cite these few business ethics journals more frequently. Editors do not need to specifically require submitting authors to cite their journals as a prerequisite for publication acceptance.

  5. The results using citations that exclude journal self-citations (EJNCs) are not reported here but are available upon request.

  6. We thank a reviewer for pointing out that no business ethics journal appears in the University of Texas-Dallas 24 journals ranking list. Both lists are the important source of information for remuneration, tenure, and promotion at some schools.

  7. Weighted number of articles (WA) is the count of total number of articles using the number of authors as the weights. For instance, Authors A and B publish an article together. Author A is affiliated with Institutions X and Y, while Author B is affiliated with Institution Z. Then, Institutions X, Y, and Z are credited with 0.25, 0.25, and 0.5 WA, respectively.


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We acknowledge the helpful comments from two anonymous reviewers. The usual caveats apply.

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Correspondence to Kam C. Chan.

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Chan, K.C., Fung, A., Fung, HG. et al. A Citation Analysis of Business Ethics Research: A Global Perspective. J Bus Ethics 136, 557–573 (2016).

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