News from Management Science (Business Strategy)

I recently took over from Bruno Cassiman as the Department Editor for the Business Strategy section at Management Science. This seemed like a good opportunity to reflect on some changes being made — that is, implementing some of the ideas in Scholarly Publishing and its Discontents — as well as some things I have learned that may assist you if you are thinking of submitting here.

Expanded Editorial Board

At Management Science, referee selection and the main decision are handled by Associate Editors. I wanted to expand that board for Business Strategy and was fortunate to find many people willing to serve. Here is the new board.

Juan Alcácer, Harvard University
Kevin Boudreau, Northeastern University
Jennifer Brown, University of British Columbia
Meghan Busse, Northwestern University
Leemore Dafny, Harvard University
Andrea Fosfuri, Bocconi University
Maria Guadalupe, INSEAD
Neil Gandal, Tel Aviv University
Mara Lederman, University of Toronto
Hong Luo, Harvard University
Fiona Murray, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Evan Rawley, University of Minnesota
Michael Ryall, University of Toronto
Rachelle Sampson, University of Maryland, College Park
Timothy Simcoe, Boston University
Catherine Thomas, London School of Economics
Rosemarie Ziedonis, Boston University

New Editorial Statement

There has been much concern about whether top journals are taking sufficient risks. So I wanted the editorial statement to reflect a weighting of ‘scientific impact’ more than ‘immediate managerial application.’

Here is the new statement:

The Business Strategy department seeks papers with research questions that deepen our understanding of business performance in competitive contexts. The department is interested in rigorous analyses that show how managerial choices impact performance, broadly construed, with special attention paid to persistent differences amongst competitors. Because we define strategic choices as those with significant competitive implications, the department will eschew papers that focus primarily on internal functions (e.g., finance or marketing), but welcome studies that link firm organization to market performance.

The primary criterion for consideration for publication in Management Science is the potential for impact on future study. This means that the research must conform to rigorous standards of quality in both theory development and empirical methodology and execution. We are agnostic as to the disciplinary origins of analysis. Finally, as the criterion is the potential for impact, this means that significant contributions may very well raise more questions than they answer and generate challenging and controversial findings with respect to the existing literature.

Note also that it tries to be clearer regarding where business strategy ends and other areas (which are well represented at Management Science) begins. In particular, we want the submissions to be business focussed. I know that sometimes, for instance, economists submit to Management Science when they miss out at an economics journal. That can be fine but I also know an economics paper when I see one (and I have written plenty) and won’t be looking for econ discards.

Efficient Decisions

These days managing submissions and ensuring timely decisions is very challenging. Over the past five years, submissions to Management Science have increased by almost fifty percent. At the same time, we want review rounds to be under 3 months and also to tighten up the time from initial submission to publication. Sometimes that can be over four years! That is just unacceptable.

To that end, there are two things we will be aiming for. First, taking cues from the Quarterly Journal of Economics, I will be ensuring the desk rejections are swift. They will also likely be the majority of decisions. There is plenty of evidence here that the error rate from such policies are low.

Your best bet not to get desk rejected is to state in a cover letter what your contribution to business strategy is, taking into account what has been written in the editorial statement. Also, don’t have titles with more than 4 buzz words. Believe it or not, it happens alot and ‘atell’ for me.

Second, we are going to aim for one round of revisions. Sometimes this can go for many rounds. The goal is to have the second revision be a straight up or down, accept/reject decision.

Authors Own Papers

Authors own papers. Not editors and certainly not referees. Too often this is not reflected in revisions and what happens. You get the following …

car_peer_review_comic_12

If you get a revise and resubmit from me, it will have two parts. It will list (a) the things you must change because they need to clarify the contribution, ensure it is correct and properly represent the past literature and (b) things that are a matter of taste which you may choose to change but need not do so. In addition, my inbox will always be open for mid-revision clarifications. No more of this arms-length dealing.

What do I like

Finally, let me just point to some papers that have been published in Management Science that I would like to see more of. For each one, they asked a significant question and the answer led (or will lead) to more research into the topic.

Bruno Cassiman and Masako Ueda (2006), “Optimal project rejection and new firm start-ups”

Sharon Novak and Scott Stern (2008), “How does outsourcing affect performance dynamics? Evidence from the automobile industry”

Hong Luo (2014), “When to sell your idea: Theory and Evidence from the Movie Industry”

Eric van den Steen (2017), “A formal theory of strategy”

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