Gender and geographic diversity in the editorial board of the Journal of International Business Studies
Assoc. Prof. Isabel Metz, Melbourne Business School
© Copyright 2011 Anne-Wil Harzing and Isabel Metz. All rights reserved.
First version, 10 July 2011
This white paper shows that, over the years, the editorial board of the Journal of International Business Studies (JIBS) has steadily increased in both geographic and gender diversity. In terms of geographic diversity, the proportion of non-US editorial board members at JIBS has almost doubled over time and in 2009, JIBS had a lower proportion of US editorial board membership than nearly all of the 38 US-based journals in our sample. The gender diversity of the JIBS’ editorial board has similarly increased over the years and from 2003 onwards, the proportion of female editorial board membership at JIBS has been above the average for our journal set.
We also show that editors have a very significant impact on the level of diversity of the editorial board. With every newly appointed editor, both geographic and gender diversity increased. However, it appears that non-traditional editorial board membership needs to be actively monitored if it is not to slip back to traditionally low levels. We draw two general conclusions from our case study. First, diversity and increasing journal reputation can coincide. Second, instituting a rotating editorship might benefit geographic and gender diversity.
Keywords: editorial boards, gender diversity, geographic diversity, international business
Editorial board members of academic journals are often considered the gatekeepers of knowledge, because they have significant influence on what is published and, hence, what informs theory development, research and practice (e.g., Braun & Diospatonyi 2005; Raelin 2008). Therefore, editorial boards should be sufficiently diverse in their backgrounds to facilitate the publication of manuscripts with a wide range of research paradigms and methods (Özbilgin 2004; Feldman 2008).
Several years ago, we embarked on a large-scale study of gender and geographic diversity in editorial boards of Management journals (see Metz & Harzing, 2009, 2012; Harzing & Metz, 2010). This short paper looks in detail at the development of gender and geographic diversity over time for the International Business community’s flagship journal: Journal of International Business Studies (JIBS).
For our main research project we collected data for 57 journals for 1989, 1994, 1999, 2004, and 2009. Five-year gaps in the data collected were chosen to allow time for changes to occur, while generating enough data points over the 20 year period studied. For JIBS, we supplemented this analysis by collecting yearly data from 2000 onwards. The composition of editorial boards was taken from the first issue of the year in question and all editorial board (EB) members were coded for country and gender.
The country was determined based on the EB member’s current university affiliation. Obviously, this coding method does not always accurately reflect the nationality of the EB member in question, as many academics work in a country different from their country of origin. However, we assume that embeddedness in particular networks would be based as much on current location as on the academic’s country of origin. Moreover, without collecting detailed information on the actual career histories and networks of all editorial board members, it would be impossible to establish whether current or home country networks are stronger.
For this paper, we distinguish between non-US editorial board membership and non-Anglo editorial board membership. The first includes all editorial board members not affiliated with a US university. The second includes all editorial board members not affiliated with a US, Canadian, British, Irish, Australian or New Zealand university. Gender was determined based on the editorial board member’s given name wherever possible. If first/given names were gender neutral, we were always able to ascertain gender through an Internet search.
Immediately apparent from Figure 1 is the rapidly increasing size of the JIBS editorial board. Between 1989 and 2006, the size of the editorial board has increased five-fold, from 30 to nearly 150 editorial board members. In particular, substantial increases took place in 1994, 1999, 2003 and 2005. In most cases, these coincided with a (recent) change in editorship. However, the board increased also by 40 members mid-way Arie Lewin’s term.
Figure 1: Increase in size of the JIBS editorial board over time
Since 2006, the size of the JIBS editorial board has hovered around 150. This substantial increase in EB size over the years mirrors the general trend in our overall sample of 57 journals, where the average size of the editorial board increased steadily over the years from 40 academics in 1989 to 64 in 2004, jumping to 87 in 2009. However, the size of the editorial board for JIBS was below average in 1989, but well above average in 2004 and 2009.
In 2009 JIBS had the 10th largest editorial board in our sample, placing it in the company of journals such as Strategic Management Journal, Academy of Management Journal, and Management Science. Most mainstream management journals seem to have large editorial boards, no doubt to cope with the large and increasing number of articles submitted to these journals.
In terms of geographic diversity Figure 2 shows that the proportion of non-US board members at JIBS has almost doubled over time, from just over 26.7% in 1989 to 49.0% in 2011. In 2009, JIBS had a lower proportion of US editorial board membership than nearly all of the 38 US-based journals in our sample. Only International Studies of Management & Organization (ISMO), Journal of World Business (JWB) and Industrial Marketing Management (IMM) had lower proportions of US board membership.
ISMO has always had a very diverse editorial board, probably reflecting the long-standing editor’s European heritage. JWB has substantially increased its geographic diversity since 1994 (when it had a 100% US board membership). We suspect that one of the main reasons for this increase at JWB is due to the decision made in 1999 by the new editor-in-chief to appoint associate editors not only for content areas, but also for geographic areas (Asia-Pacific and Europe). In the case of IMM, the large non-US board membership is a very recent phenomenon which accompanied the substantial increase in the size of the editorial board between 2004 and 2009 (from 96 to 247).
Figure 2: Increase in geographic and gender diversity of the JIBS editorial board over time.
What is even more interesting is the development over time with regard to Anglo (i.e. Canadian, British, Irish, Australian or New Zealand) versus non-Anglo non-US board members. In 1989, virtually all non-US board members came from Anglophone countries. There was only one non-Anglo board member (INSEAD Professor Yves Doz, who is a Harvard PhD graduate and worked at Harvard University for four years in the late 70s). Over time, the proportion of Anglo board members remained fairly stable, whilst the growth in non-US board membership came mostly from non-Anglo countries.
Current non-US AIB membership lies at 61%. Hence, the JIBS editorial board might still not be considered to be fully representative of the geographic diversity of the International Business community. Further, a more fine grained analysis shows that non-US Anglo board members are similarly represented in the JIBS editorial board and in AIB membership (approximately 18%). Therefore, it appears that the major underrepresentation at JIBS is still amongst non-US non-Anglo members. However, many of the non-US AIB members might have joined recently and be at a junior level. Hence, it might take some time before these non-US non-Anglo AIB members qualify for editorial board membership.
The gender diversity of the JIBS’ editorial board has similarly increased over the years, reaching nearly 27% in 2011. It was already fairly high in 1989 (13.3%), when in fact JIBS’ proportion of female editorial board members was higher than the average for our journal set (9.4%). However, the 1989 proportion was based on only four female editorial board members. In 1994, with only 3.3% female editorial board membership, JIBS dipped well below our sample’s average for that year (13.7%). Since 1994, female editorial board membership increased again, most notably in 2002, 2003, and 2011 (see Figure 2). In particular, from 2003 onwards, the proportion of female editorial board membership at JIBS has been above the average for our journal set.
Female membership for AIB is not known with accuracy. However, using 2011 membership data kindly supplied by the AIB secretariat, we sampled 100 WAIB (Women in the Academy of International Business) members and 100 non-WAIB members. Based on the gender distribution in these groups (75% female for WAIB members and 10% female for non-WAIB members), we would estimate the proportion of female AIB members to be around 25%. Hence, the JIBS editorial board seems to be largely representative of the gender composition of AIB membership.
Major changes in editorial board membership tend to take place only after a new editor is appointed. A steep increase in both non-US board membership and female editorial board membership is recorded in 1999, most likely dating from the appointment of Thomas Brewer as the new editor in 1997. However, over the duration of this editor’s tenure, both the proportion of non-US board members and the proportion of female editorial board members declined slightly again, as the very gradual increase in the size of the board mainly came from new male US board members. The modest increase of the editorial board in 2002, however, was nearly entirely composed of female US board members. In sum, whilst geographic diversity declined gradually, gender diversity increased from a low base.
With the appointment of Arie Lewin in 2003, another significant increase in non-US board membership occurred. In this particular year, the proportion of Anglo non-US board members declined, whilst the proportion of new non-Anglo non-US board members increased sharply. It must be said though that half of the increase of non-Anglo non-US board members consisted of INSEAD academics, which in many cases were academics with an Anglo background. Gender diversity also increased sharply in 2003. In fact, this year saw the largest increase in female board membership in JIBS’ history with the number of female editorial board members increasing from 10 to 21.
However, we again see a steady decline in the proportion of non-US board members – and in particular of non-Anglo non-INSEAD board members – over the duration of the editor’s tenure. This was partly due to the increase of the EB size without a corresponding increase in the proportion of non-US board members. Over the years (2003-2007) the editorial board increased from 87 to 151 members. However, the number of non-US non-Anglo board members remained fairly stable and, hence, the increase came mainly from US and Anglo non-US board members. Gender diversity fared slightly better, but even in this regard there was a slight decline over the time of the editor’s tenure. It appears that non-traditional board membership needs to be actively monitored if it is not to slip back to traditionally low levels.
When Lorraine Eden was appointed mid 2007, non-US board membership (and in particular non-Anglo non-INSEAD board membership) experienced another steep increase. INSEAD board membership decreased from its peak of 7-8% in 2003-2005 to just over 1% in 2008. This year saw the largest increase in non-Anglo non-INSEAD board membership in JIBS’ history with the number of non-Anglo non-INSEAD board members increasing from 21 to 35. In terms of gender diversity, there was an increase in the proportion of female editorial board members (albeit only a small one). In contrast to the two previous editorial periods, geographic diversity did not decline during this editor’s tenure. However, gender diversity declined slightly because the small shrinking of the editorial board over this editor’s tenure was mostly made up of women.
Under the most recent editorial team – John Cantwell and Mary Yoko Brannen – we again find a similar pattern: both geographic and gender diversity received a boost. In terms of geographic diversity, however, the proportion of non-US board membership only increased marginally. The main difference is in the composition of non-US board membership with non-Anglo board members replacing Anglo board members. For the first time in JIBS’ history the number of non-Anglo non-INSEAD board members (42) considerably exceeds the number of non-US Anglo board (27) members. Female editorial board membership reached historically high levels as well, as for the first time in JIBS’ history it is similar to the proportion of female AIB members.
So far, it is too early to tell if a pattern exists in the non-traditional board membership at JIBS and if the decline in non-US board membership and/or female editorial board membership, evident after the three previous changes in editorship, will recur. But even if it does, both the representation of non-US board and the representation of female editorial members have, overall, experienced a significant upward trend at JIBS.
Our brief paper has shown that over the years the JIBS editorial board has steadily increased its geographic and gender diversity. In terms of geographic diversity, the proportion of non-US editorial board members at JIBS has almost doubled over time and in 2009, JIBS had a lower proportion of US editorial board membership than nearly all of the 38 US-based journals in our sample. The gender diversity of the JIBS’ editorial board has similarly increased over the years and from 2003 onwards, the proportion of female editorial board membership at JIBS has been above the average for our journal set.
Female editorial board membership is now very similar to the (estimated) proportion of female AIB members. However, in spite of the increase of non-US editorial board members, AIB members from non-Anglo countries are still underrepresented on the JIBS editorial board. This might be caused by a pipe-line effect. We believe that many of the non-Anglo members may have joined recently and are at a relatively junior level. Typically, junior academics in non-Anglo countries are more aware than their senior colleagues of the need to connect to international academic networks to be known in their field. Hence, it might take some time before these AIB members are invited to be editorial board members. It is clear though that non-Anglo editorial board membership has increased more rapidly in recent years (see below).
We also showed that editors influence the level of diversity of the editorial board. With every newly appointed editor, both geographic and gender diversity increased. Initially, non-US editorial board membership was mainly drawn from Anglophone countries (i.e. Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia or New Zealand) or institutions (i.e. INSEAD). However, under the two most recent editorial teams non Anglo board membership increased dramatically. With regard to the most recent editorial team, this might well be due to the co-editors’ international life and career histories, which have given them easy access to a greater variety of international networks.
Finally, our analysis showed that although all editors increased the diversity of the editorial board at the start of their terms, non-traditional (i.e. non US male) editorial board membership often regressed at a later stage during their tenures. It appears that non-traditional editorial board membership needs to be actively monitored if it is not to slip back to traditionally low levels.
Based on our examination of the JIBS editorial board membership over the last 22 years, we draw several broad conclusions and make recommendations. First, in contrast to what Stremersch & Verhoef (2005) find for top Marketing journals, the JIBS case shows that an emphasis on diversity in editorial boards - and as a result diversity in terms of authors - can coincide with achieving high impact. JIBS has consistently increased its relative standing in the field of business and management.
Although we are fully cognizant of the many drawbacks of the journal impact factor measure (see Harzing, 2010), it does provide some comparative information on the extent to which the average article in a journal is cited. In 2001, JIBS was ranked 19th in Management and 21st in Business, whilst in 2010 its position had risen to 8th in Management and 3rd in Business. Hence, at the same that the JIBS editorial board became more diverse, the relative standing of the journal also increased. Whilst we do not wish to imply causality, it is clear that diversity and high standing can go hand in hand.
Second, from our JIBS case study it is evident that the appointment of each new editor provides an impetus to increasing both geographic and gender diversity in the editorial board. Our large-scale study also shows that journals with rotating editorship, in general, have more diverse editorial boards than boards with non-rotating editors. In fact, this influence of a new editor on editorial board diversity is especially evident for gender diversity, with journals that have the same editor since inception usually showing the worst records in terms of gender diversity.
Hence, these findings support the case for limiting the length of an editor’s term on the basis that new editors might bring with them new experiences and perspectives that result in positive change. The increasingly high burden on editors through constantly rising submission rates, and the resultant negative impact an editorship might have on their research output (Aguinis, de Bruin, Cunningham, Hall, Culpepper & Gottfredson, 2010), suggests that limiting the length of the editor’s term might be beneficial for the editor’s own career perspective and sanity as well.
In conclusion, the geographical and gender diversity of editorial boards can increase (and has increased) over time, but this increase needs to be continually managed. Specifically, it is important to regularly monitor the geographical and gender diversity of the boards of scholarly journals to raise awareness and achieve sustained positive change.
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