Interview from the last issue of the IACMR Monthly Briefing

As of 2015 Management and Organization Review will be published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the International Association for Chinese Management Research (IACMR)

The 2013 Journal Citation Report has released that Management and Organization Review’s 2013 Impact Factor is 3.227, placing MOR’s ranking at No. 14 among 172 management journals. It’s very encouraging news.

Zhijun Yao, Executive Director of IACMR, has had a conversation with Anne Tsui, the founding editor-in-chief of MOR, to explore why and how MOR has achieved its current status in a decade.

Question: why was it important to introduce a journal on management and organization when there were many journals in the field already in 2005?

In 1996-1999, I was the Editor for AMJ. I asked my associate editors if they would consider having a special issue on China. Their answer was no because AMJ would not publish research on a specific region. If AMJ had a special issue on China, why not a special issue on India, Brazil, or France. I also heard other editors talked about submissions from other countries. For example, they asked why AMJ should publish a paper about job satisfaction in Africa. They must provide a reason why that context was important or interesting. I as well as a number of other scholars wondered why editors or reviewers wanted the author to justify a study in their countries, but a paper about employees in New York or in Texas did not have to make this justification. The importance of context came into light a few years later. These editors actually had foresight, but I was ignorant at the time about this, but fortunately realized that research in new contexts must be allowed a venue where such research findings should be shared with the management scholarship community. In the late 1990’s, management research in China began to pick up. My colleagues and I at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology discussed the idea of having a journal that was dedicated to Chinese management research. It would welcome studies in China and authors do not have to justify a Chinese sample. Hence, we created MOR, specifically for authors who study employees and firms in China.

In 2000 to 2001, I was a visiting professor at the Guanghua School of Management at Peking University. I discussed the journal idea with the then Executive Dean Prof. Weiyging Zhang. He strongly supported this idea. His foresight and vision was instrumental in the final decision to create MOR. His support was a strong endorsement that such a journal would be important and necessary in China. I am grateful to both Guanghua School of Management and the Business School of HKUST for providing their generous financial support to MOR since its founding and continuing to this date.

Question: what are the characteristics of MOR in comparison with other management journals?

MOR has a specific focus on China. Even though the domain has been expanded to cover other emerging economies, China is still the core focus. Also, MOR has a developmental philosophy. We try to give all authors feedback on their submissions, including those whose papers that are not ready to be formally reviewed. After a paper is accepted, we work with the author to improve it until it is the best it can be. We take this developmental philosophy seriously. In recent years, we have published many papers about unique phenomena in China such as the idea of Yin-Yang, guanxi, renqing, and traditional cultural values like Confucianism, Daoism, or Legalism. It is a great resource for scholars and managers who want to learn about Chinese management in theory and in practice.

Question: when deciding on accepting a paper or not, what criteria do you think are most important?

We look for papers that address important problems in Chinese organizations. They have to have an interesting idea that adds to our current stock of knowledge on the topic. The conceptual logic should be persuasive, and the empirical method should be rigorous so that we can have confidence in the validity of the conclusion. We are more understanding of the English writing because many authors are not native English speakers. We have an English editor who does excellent work and she helps our authors to polish their papers.

Question: what did you do to get the first good IF of 2.806 just in 5 years from its inaugural issue?

The main reason is that we have published some excellent papers that attracted many readers. MOR articles were cited by a variety of journals in management and other disciplines. We send the Table of Contents to various groups in the management research community potentially interested in China and in good scholarship. We have articles by many distinguished scholars and young authors. We have special issues on topics that deserve more research attention, and we have editors’ forum on issues that are current and controversial. For example, we published an issue on the “Future of Chinese Management Research”. The ideas discussed by the authors of the essays in this forum are applicable to scholarship in other emerging contexts such as India or South America. The article by Barney and Zhang on the debate between Chinese Theory of Management or Theory of Chinese Management was well received. Equally influential is the article on contextualization by Whetten and another one by Child. We also published an editors’ forum on Publication and Research Ethics. The articles in this forum are not citation candidates. We knew that but the topic is so important that we want to publish it.

Question: what have you done to bring the journal to such a height in the following 5 years?

We did not do anything in particular. We just continue to publish good articles on important topics.

Question: any other points that you would like to mention to demonstrate the high quality and status among the 172 ISI-listed journals…

“Citations” is one indicator of the influence of the articles in a journal. However, we must keep in mind that this is not a perfect indicator. Authors cannot do an exhaustive search of all relevant articles to their study. They search in their fields of familiarity. Therefore, well-established older journals have an advantage. Articles in the new journals that may be most relevant can be overlooked. To move up into a list with many well established journals and a highly competitive field is not an easy feat. We see an extremely well regarded journal ASQ in rank 34 in 2013. It has a rank of 8 in 2012. This is crazy. There is not much room to move up and plenty of room to move down. MOR is more likely to go down than to go up next year. We should not get too excited about one year’s citation figure. We should look at the quality of the papers in a journal and judge if they offer new insight that we do not know previously. As the new editor in chief Prof Arie Lewin said “we want to find the jewel in each paper”. We hope that each MOR paper has a jewel that is precious knowledge about management in China and in other emerging economies.

Coming soon… An interview with current Editor-in-Chief Arie Y. Lewin



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