The Invention of Google Scholar

20 10 2014

Google Scholar is celebrating its tenth birthday. It has had a major impact on higher education during its first decade. In some institutions, Google Scholar citations are a key metric for decisions about promotion and tenure. Google Scholar has made it easier to do literature searches that encompass relatively obscure, non-US journals, which promotes the democratization and internationalization of knowledge. Most importantly, Google Scholar has made it easier for people in developing countries to access academic knowledge.

The website Medium has published a great profile of the inventor of Google Scholar:

Anurag Acharya is the key inventor of Google Scholar, but the real origin of the project lies in his college years at the Kharagpur campus of the Indian Institute of Technology. The IIT is India’s version of MIT and Stanford combined, and has produced a long list of now-celebrated engineers and executives at Internet companies here and abroad. But even in that elite school, it was difficult for students to get hold of relevant scholarly materials.

The whole thing is worth a read.


My Emerging Markets Students Are Totally Going to Read This Paper on Asiaphoria!

16 10 2014

Shanghai Skyline. Photo by Peter Stewart of Perth, WA


Next semester, I’m going to be teaching a course on Emerging Markets. The students will, of course, read Jim O’Neill’s upbeat works on the growth prospects of the BRIC economies, but I’m also going to force them to read and discuss a new paper by Lant Pritchett and Lawrence H. Summers entitled Asiaphoria Meets Regression to the Mean.  Here is the abstract:


Consensus forecasts for the global economy over the medium and long term predict the world’s economic gravity will substantially shift towards Asia and especially towards the Asian Giants, China and India. While such forecasts may pan out, there are substantial reasons that China and India may grow much less rapidly than is currently anticipated. Most importantly, history teaches that abnormally rapid growth is rarely persistent, even though economic forecasts invariably extrapolate recent growth. Indeed, regression to the mean is the empirically most salient feature of economic growth. It is far more robust in the data than, say, the much-discussed middle-income trap. Furthermore, statistical analysis of growth reveals that in developing countries, episodes of rapid growth are frequently punctuated by discontinuous drop-offs in growth. Such discontinuities account for a large fraction of the variation in growth rates. We suggest that salient characteristics of China—high levels of state control and corruption along with high measures of authoritarian rule—make a discontinuous decline in growth even more likely than general experience would suggest. China’s growth record in the past 35 years has been remarkable, and nothing in our analysis suggests that a sharp slowdown is inevitable. Still, our analysis suggests that forecasters and planners looking at China would do well to contemplate a much wider range of outcomes than are typically considered.

The NBER version of the paper is here. There is an ungated version here.

This paper’s skepticism about the growth prospects of Asia isn’t entirely new. Lots of naysayers have been saying this for some time. However, the paper presenters the skeptics’ case very well indeed,

This paper should certainly stir up some debate, both in my classroom — and more generally.

CFP: International Conference on the Economic and Business History of Latin America

14 10 2014

Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Chile

Santiago, Chile. December 12th, 2014

As part of the 80th anniversary celebrations of the Faculty of Economics and Business of the University of Chile, the Faculty is hosting an International Conference on the Economic and Business History of Latin America to be held on December 12th, 2014 in its premises in Santiago, Chile. The conference invites contributions in English or Spanish in all areas associated to the themes of the conference. A selection of the participating papers will be invited to be published in a special issue of the journal Estudios de Economía (indexed in Thomson ISI- JCR), with Professor Bernardo Bátiz-Lazo (Bangor University) as guest editor. The conference is organized with the sponsorship of Universidad de Santiago de Chile.

The conference is also organizing a posters session open to undergraduate and postgraduate students undertaking their thesis in any field relevant to the conference. The best posters will be awarded a prize.

The deadline for submitting contributions and posters is October 19th, 2014. An extended abstract of up to 1000 words explaining the research question, the data and methods employed and the main results and conclusions should be sent to  The deadline for sending the complete versions of the papers is December 1st, and the deadline for submitting the final, revised versions of the papers to be published in Estudios de Economía is January 18th, 2015. The special issue will be published in May 2015.

Scientific Committee

Bernardo Bátiz-Lazo (Bangor University)

José Díaz (EH Clio Lab, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile)

Bernardita Escobar (Universidad Diego Portales)

Manuel Llorca (Universidad de Santiago de Chile)

Mario Matus (Universidad de Chile)

Javier Núñez (Universidad de Chile)

César Yáñez (Universidad de Barcelona & Universidad de Valparaíso)

US Data on Graduate Earnings by Major

13 10 2014 has recently shared some fascinating data about the earnings of US graduates by major.

In my view, the most instructive charts at the ones that compare early-career earnings by major with mid-career earnings. As you would expect, graduates with degrees in very marketable disciplines such as petroleum engineering do very well in the years immediately after college. If you look at what forty-something graduates are earning, however, the disparity is far less stark.

Equivalent UK data can be found here. In the UK, it appears that the most lucrative degree subject is  Medicine. Interestingly, the 10th most lucrative subject is Japanese Studies: graduates with degrees in this subject earn an impressive £36,437.

Observing a manifestation against “multinational tyranny”

13 10 2014


On Saturday, there were protests across Europe against two agreements involving the EU. The protests were against the ongoing TAFTA talks (Transatlantic Free Trade Area, between the US and the EU) and the recently signed but not yet ratified CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, between Canada and Europe). There were even protests in Switzerland, which isn’t part of the EU but which would be affected by the agreements as it is part of the European Free Trade Association.

A former student who now lives in the Geneva, Mira Fey, has posted some observations about the protest that took place in Geneva’s CBD.

Originally posted on My Thoughts on Politics and More:

The stream of protesters along Rue de Mont Blanc

The stream of protesters along Rue de Mont Blanc

This afternoon on my way back home from the library, I came across an anti-capitalist demonstration in the core of Geneva’s commercial center. This might be surprising for the non-Swiss person, associating Geneva with professionals from the UN, scientists from CERN, and most of all bankers and expensive watches. Nevertheless, in Switzerland, the Geneva-area has long been one of the most left-leaning cantons. Still, this was the first demonstration I witnessed in Switzerland, so I decided to follow the march for a while, not because I agreed with the cause (I simple do not know enough about the specifics to decide that), but because I found it interesting to observe the dynamics of the protest which went passed the Four Seasons, along the lake, and down one of Geneva’s most expensive shopping streets, sporting Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Rolex, and many…

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Canada Falls in World University Rankings: or Rating the Raters

8 10 2014

The Globe and Mail and other Canadian media sources recently carried stories about how Canadian universities are falling in the global rankings. (see “Canadian universities slide down world ranking scale” 1 October). The Agenda, a Canadian public affairs TV show, appears to have plans for an episode on the subject. The publication of the Times Higher Education rankings has sparked this debate.

Speaking as a Canadian-educated academic who is familiar with both the British higher education system and the management issue of creating incentives for accuracy in ratings, I find it difficult to believe that people still take these rankings seriously.

In thinking about the rankings of universities, we can divide the ranking agencies into three categories: low credibility, medium credibility, high credibility.

Let’s talk about the totally bogus rankings. There are a number of organizations and individuals who produce world rankings of universities. Some lack any credibility. Consider the Shanghai World Rankings of Universities. These are produced by a team of researchers in a dictatorship that is known for widespread corruption and internet censorship. China’s firewall prevents people in the country from accessing Western media websites, including student newspapers. Given that such websites contain a great deal of information that would be relevant to evaluating universities,  the evaluators in Shanghai are in a poor position to do rankings. Another website with world university rankings is produced by an Italian gentleman who lives in London. The said gentleman offers “consulting” services for universities that wish to move up his rankings!!! Moreover, his rankings  lack credibility since so little reputational capital is at stake.

The Times Higher Education rankings are somewhat more credible, as they are produced by big media conglomerate that has some reputational capital to loose: businesspeople pay a premium to access Times data in the belief it is accurate. We can be pretty certain that outright bribery have never influenced the position of a university in the Times HES rankings. However, even these rankings are problematic, as they appear to be skewed towards UK universities, which is natural given that the rankings are made under the supervision of Phil Baty, a graduate of one of the colleges of the University of London! To be fair to Mr Baty and other patriotic British university graduates, the UK does have a handful of good universities.  I’m proud to work at one of the British universities that provides North-American quality education.  The experience of most British students is very different however.

I suspect that the low rankings of Canadian universities are a function of lack of knowledge of Canada rather than malicious bias on the part of the people at the THES.  Although British people are well informed about the United States, they know little about Canada, in part because the BBC does not employ any full-time journalists in Canada, despite having dozens of people in the United States. Many ordinary British people are surprised when they see pictures of Canada’s urban skylines, since this visual evidence of urbanization conflicts with the prevailing stereotypes of Canada.  Academics in the UK display similar, although less extreme, knowledge gaps. A senior British political scientist once remarked to me that he didn’t know the name of “Canada’s President.” The widespread British ignorance of Canada may well reflect a rational allocation of mental effort. However, it means that Canadians should probably ignore whatever British newspapers say about Canadian universities, at least until they start reporting on, say, Canadian federal elections.

The more fundamental problem with any newspaper and magazine ranking universities is the incentive structure, as the rater faces few if any financial consequences for inaccuracy or bias. After the financial meltdown, investors became sceptical of the rankings issued by bond rating agencies such as S&P. Unlike Warren Buffett who puts his money where his mouth is, the analysts at ratings agencies gave triple-A ratings to securities without investing any of their own money. Any person can predict that the price of wheat will go up next year, but I’m more likely to pay attention to him if he’s bet some money on Chicago wheat futures.  These analogies show what is wrong with the Times Higher, Guardian, and other newspaper-generated ratings.

There are some credible ratings of universities, however. The staff of charities such as the Ford and Carnegie Foundations do categorize and evaluate universities before making decisions about the allocation of billions of dollars of funding. Since these organizations have “skin in the game”, the opinions they express via ratings are credible. The newspaper rankings should be ignored, since individuals such as Phil Baty face no penalties for error.

Learning Opportunity for PhD Students at Copenhagen Business School

7 10 2014

AS: PhD students at other universities will have the opportunity to attend an intensive, two-day workshop at CBS this autumn. The details are below.

Using Historical Approaches in Management and Organizational Research

3 ECTS Credits



November 17-18, 2014



Per H. Hansen, Tor Hernes, Christina Lubinski, Mads Mordhorst, Majken Schultz, Daniel Wadhwani, Roy Suddaby

Course Coordinator

Associate Professor Mads Mordhorst


Prerequisites & Requirements

Each participant must submit a working paper or full-length proposal for group discussion or review. The paper should be submitted to Dan Wadhwani ( by November 17th.  Students who do not have a working paper or full-length proposal may still take the course but will receive only 2 ECTS credits. Students should indicate whether they will be submitting a paper when they register for the course so that both credit and fees can be adjusted accordingly.


Course Description

In recent years, management and organizations researchers have begun to use historical sources and approaches in their study of organizations and organizing. Building on earlier pleas for an engagement with historical reasoning about organizations (Zald, 1993; Kieser, 1994; Clark and Rowlinson, 2004), these more recent developments have included efforts to develop historical approaches to studying organizational and institutional theory (Suddaby and Greenwood, 2009), strategy (Kahl et al, 2012; Ingram et al, 2012), innovation and entrepreneurship (Tripsas, 1997; Forbes and Kirsch, 2010; Popp and Holt, 2013; Wadhwani and Jones, 2014), international business (Jones and Khanna, 2006) and critical management studies (Rowlinson and Proctor, 1999), among other subfields. The turn towards history, however, has also raised a number of complex questions for researchers about the nature of historical knowledge, how it might be employed to address organizational research questions, and how to analyze historical sources and data (Bucheli and Wadhwani, 2014; Rowlinson, Hassard, and Decker, 2014; Kipping and Usdiken, 2014). This seminar will introduce participants to the core theoretical and methodological issues involved in using historical approaches in organizational and management research, and discuss the variety of ways in which history is being used in organization and management studies today.  The seminar will provide participants with both a broad orientation to the theoretical and practical issues involved in the use of historical approaches, and an opportunity to apply these approaches to their own research using smaller breakout groups and discussions.

Learning Objectives

The PhD seminar will be designed to allow participants to:

  1. Understand the nature of historical approaches and how they compare to other types of ways of studying management and organizations.
  2. Understand the range of ways in which historical sources, methods, and perspectives can be engaged, including the epistemological assumptions involved in these choices and their implications for the types of research questions that can be addressed.
  3. Apply these methodological issues and choices to their own research interests through focused breakout groups.


The seminar will provide a broad overview of the uses of history in management and organizational research, and then examine more closely three ways in which historical sources, methods, and perspectives can be used to address organizational research questions. The four approaches are as follows:

The first approach we will examine is the use of history to develop or test theory.  Historical sources can provide a foundation for developing and testing theories related to organizational processes in time, including such processes as institutionalization, path dependence, imprinting, and evolutionary dynamics. We will illustrate how this is done using leading examples from the organizational literature, and will discuss the assumptions, strengths, and limitations of such an approach.

Second, we will discuss the uses of history to identify and reconstruct important phenomena that extant theory elides. Theories are necessarily parsimonious abstractions of complex realities, and while theory-driven research has proven itself valuable in management and organization studies, scholars have also gained increasing appreciation for research based on the study of important phenomena, as the recent establishment of Academy of Management Discoverieshighlights.  We will show how historical approaches can be used to reconstruct organizational developments that theory has elided, and how this can in turn serve as a basis for alternative theoretical perspectives on organizations.

Finally, we will examine the use of history to provide insights into organizational meaning, cognition, and agency. Historical sources and approaches allow insights into how organizational actors understand their world, including their own position in historical time. We will examine how organizational scholars have been employing this approach to examine the uses of history by organizations and actors to formulate organizational strategy, engage in entrepreneurial action, and establish organizational identity.

Participants will not only have the opportunity to learn these approaches by examining leading exemplars of each approach, but also through discussions of the strengths and weaknesses of each and by application of the most appropriate approach to their own research.

Lecture Plan

Day 1
9:00-10:00     Origins and Development of the “Historic Turn” in Organization Studies

Discussion: What is history? How is it important in understanding organizations?

Primary Faculty: Mordhorst; Secondary Faculty: All

10:00-10:15   Break

10:15-12:00   Approach 1: Using History to Develop and Test Organization Theory

Discussion: How do we know the past?

Primary Faculty: Wadhwani; Secondary: All

12:30-1:00     Lunch

1:00-2:30       Approach 2: Using History to Examine New or Unexamined Phenomena

Primary Faculty: Hansen; Secondary Faculty: All

2:30-2:45       Break

2:45-4:00       Approach 3: Uses of History in Organizations and Organizing

Primary Faculty: Schultz & Hernes; Secondary Faculty: All

Day 2

9:00-10:30     Session 1: Student Presentations and Feedback

Primary Faculty: Mordhorst; Secondary: All

10:30-10:45   Break

10:45-12:00   Session 2: Student Presentations and Feedback

Primary Faculty: Wadhwani; Secondary: Al12:00-1:00


1:00-2:30       Session 3: Student Presentations and Feedback

Primary Faculty: Lubinski; Secondary Faculty: All

2:30-2:45       Break

2:45-4:00       Wrap Up

Faculty: All


Course Literature

Bingham, C. B., & Kahl, S. J. (2013). The Process of Schema Emergence: Assimilation, Deconstruction, Unitization and the Plurality of Analogies. Academy of Management Journal56 (1): 14-34.

Bucheli, M., & Wadhwani, R. D. (Eds.). (2013). Organizations in Time: History, Theory, Methods. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Forbes, D. P., & Kirsch, D. A. (2011). The Study of Emerging Industries: Recognizing and Responding to Some Central Problems. Journal of Business Venturing26(5): 589-602.

Hansen, P. H. (2007). Organizational culture and organizational change: The transformation of savings banks in Denmark, 1965–1990. Enterprise and Society8(4), 920-953.

Khaire, M., & Wadhwani, R. D. (2010). Changing Landscapes: The Construction of Meaning and Value in a New Market Category—Modern Indian Art. Academy of Management Journal53(6), 1281-1304.

Rowlinson, M., Hassard, J., & Decker, S. (2013). Strategies for Organizational History: A Dialogue Between Historical Theory and Organization Theory.Academy of Management Review, amr-2012.

Schultz, M. and Hernes, T. (2013). “A Temporal Perspective on Organizational Identity,” Organization Science, 24(1): 1–21.


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