Fall each year is a time when hundreds of soon-to-be doctoral graduates and faculty members in different stages of their careers engage in a time-honored ritual of job search. In the area of management, this period begins in August with the Annual Academy of Management Conference and lasts until the beginning of the following year. The objective of most job market candidates is to secure a position in one of the top research universities or business schools around the world and to continue their academic careers. Because the number of open positions in one of these prestigious institutions is smaller than the number of job candidates, the market remains very competitive.
I have been looking at the evolution of the demand side of this market – the research institutions – and one trend caught my eye. The market is becoming more diverse. It used to be that academic research was pursued predominantly in North America, with the US leading the pack. The reasons for this are numerous, and I encourage anyone interested to read a great book by Mie Augier and James March “The Roots, Rituals, and Rhetorics of Change: North American Business Schools After the Second World War”.
Three years ago, I wrote a related piece that reflected on the changes in the academic job market. That article was based on data that ended in 2017, and I decided to check how things have evolved since then. In brief, the last two decades have seen the number of top management research departments worldwide increase, as schools from Europe and Asia began to invest in and support research. While the US is still home to most research institutions, job market candidates now have a much more diverse set of places to choose from.
Before we continue, we need to define what a top research institution is. Here many different methodologies are possible, and I don’t claim mine is superior. I will be upfront that there is some degree of pragmatism in how I approached it. Specifically, I used the UT Dallas Research Ranking for my analysis. This ranking scores universities and business schools according to the number of publications weighted by the number of coauthors for each institution. The advantageous feature of this ranking is that it does the scoring automatically by scraping the top journals in several areas, thus no school is excluded. I like this ranking because it presents an objective and current snapshot of the research productivity of an institution rather than an outdated status perception or wishful proclamations (aka cheap talk).
Because I am interested in the field of management, I searched schools by journal and picked the top six journals in that field: AMJ, AMR, SMJ, Organization Science, ASQ, and JIBS. I took a five-year average of the research score to remove annual variation and recorded the schools that made it to the top 100 in that period. I ended up with six five-year periods; from 1993-1997 to 2018-2022 (years inclusive). The figure presents the results.
Note: This article has been written in November 2022 thus the last five-year period is not yet complete. I will update this post in 2023, but the results should not differ dramatically from those presented.
There is one particularly interesting trend in the data. As mentioned before, in the 1993-1997 period, the US was a research powerhouse, with 84 schools ranking in the top 100. Europe was home only to five top institutions (INSEAD, LBS, Judge Business School, University of Limburg, and Tilburg), while Asia had only three (Technion, Tel Aviv University, and NUS in Singapore). Canada had the remaining 8 top institutions.
Fast forward and job market candidates can now choose from top research schools spread out among 15 countries. In the most recent period (2018-2022), the US was home to 57 of the top schools, followed by the UK with 10, Canada and China, each with 6, France and the Netherlands with 4 each, Spain with 3, Australia and Singapore with 2 each, and finally Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Norway, and Switzerland, each with one school in the top 100.
This does not mean that the US is becoming less research-oriented. Instead, the trend is mostly driven by the increasing focus on research in other regions. This bodes well for current and future job market candidates.
You can check the list of top non-US research institutions for 2018-2022 period in the table below.