Volume 30 Number 2, December 2005
Robert E. Marks
A New Tool for Scholars
I n 1978 Pamela Taylor, the foundation Librarian of the AGSM, introduced us to the Social Science Citation Index (SSCI), a set of heavy tomes that listed published papers and their citations. The excellent thing was that a separate volume indexed the citations. This meant that a researcher could look up a paper, find its references, and then find all other published papers that cited each of these references. Then the researcher could find new references perhaps later than the first paper, and see what these papers had referenced. And so on. With some effort the SSCI allowed a researcher to stand on the shoulders of previous scholars, and generate a good list of the relevant research papers in any field, and in related fields too, if she wished.
The effort to use the SSCI was greatly reduced when it appeared on CD-ROMs in the mid-1990s, although the University Library possessed a single set only, which often led to a queue of researchers waiting to use it. But the electronic version was much more convenient to use.
The queues of scholars disappeared a few years later when the SSCI went online. As the Web of Science, it is now available to all who subscribe. But for some researchers, the value of the SSCI (and its stable mates, the Science Citation Index and the Arts & Humanities Citation Index) is reduced because of its lack of comprehensive coverage of refereed journals. For example, I have published in economics journals (well covered), in policy journals (somewhat covered), in drugs journals (spotty coverage), and in computer science journals (these often fall between "science" and "social science" and are not at all well covered in the Web of Science). So, amongst other things, my Web of Science citation count (currently at 94) might understate the impact of my publications, especially in non-traditional journals.
Google is the company whose stock has more than quadrupled in value from its initial price of USD$100 eighteen months ago. One reason for the market's evident enthusiasm for Google that might have escaped your attention is Google Scholar, which "provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature". It orders the search results for any paper by a relevance measure that includes the number of other papers that cite the listed papers.
For the researcher, Google Scholar also links the cited paper to those papers that cite it, allowing the easy back-and-forth of SSCI for any internet user. Moreover, the Google Scholar database is more eclectic than that of the SSCI: all papers on the internet are grist to its mill, whether in HTML, PDF, or .doc format. This means that holes in the Web of Science are covered in Google Scholar. A practical effect of this is that my Google Scholar citation count, at 197, is over twice that of the Web of Science.
It might be argued that there is no quality control with Google Scholar, since it promiscuously references any document it finds on the Web. And it's true. But I'd rather make my writing available and have it counted with the small chance that a crackpot might comment on it (and properly cite it to Google Scholar's requirements) than ignore this great new research tool.
In my editorial, "The State of the Journal" (Marks 2004), I commented that at the beginning of April 2004 there were 439 citations of 185 Journal papers according to the Web of Science. A search on Google Scholar at the end of November, 2005, reveals 1,220 individual papers that either refer to the "Australia Journal of Management," or were published in it. Further analysis of these items reveals, first, that the most highly cited papers in the Journal is Donaldson and Davis (1991), with 54 cites, followed by Watts (1977) with 43 cites. There were 879 cites of papers published in the AJM, not quite double the number in the Web of Science eighteen months ago.
The issue of the generation and use of publications and their impacts brings us to the lead article in this issue. Other papers are concerned with stock markets, funds management, and screening for potential employees. The Papers In Australia, it is ironic that as government funding as a percentage of total university revenues falls, successive Federal Ministers of Education have tightened the Commonwealth Government control of universities, most recently in the ideologically driven proposal to outlaw compulsory student amenity fees, in a cack-handed attempt to reduce the resources and power of student political clubs. As the Vice Chancellor designate of the UNSW, Professor Fred Hilmer, has said, government actions have resulted in "half pregnant" universities, neither adequately funded, nor free to let the market judge and reward quality.
Earlier, at a level closer to the research and educational areas of the university, about ten years ago the Commonwealth moved from judging research success by inputs (as measured by research grants obtained) to outputs (as measured by number of papers published). Problem was, there are journals and journals, and papers and papers, and the guidelines made no distinction between high-quality journals and others. Predictably, the number of publications per academic rose, but equally predictably, the average published paper's impact--as measured by its citations--fell, a sign of falling quality. At least, prior research has shown this pattern for Science papers.
Now Anne-Wil Harzing has found it for papers in Economics & Business, a discipline which, as she points out, combines the highest ranking in quantity with the lowest ranking in quality. She explores possible reasons for this in a paper that deserves a wide readership.
Why are financial assets exchanged? This simple question is not so easy to answer: the seller prefers the money, the buyer the stock, but why? Rebalancing portfolios, where stocks and cash are two broad categories, might be one explanation, but sudden illiquidity does not explain all sales. A more general explanation in the financial literature is different information, or, more precisely, different beliefs.
Even if all traders receive identical public information, there will arise a range of beliefs, some of which might impel sales, others purchases. And if, further, some traders receive private information, the distribution of beliefs might well widen. Poskitt asks whether what he calls "informed" trading (as a result of private information) is more likely in mining-exploration stocks than in mining-production stocks. He finds that it does, but discounts the reason as being the assumed sensitivity of exploration stocks to private information (say, about the quality or quantity of an in-situ reserve).
Since the early 1990s, superannuation (pension) funds have burgeoned in Australia, as a result of the introduction of compulsory superannuation. The total value of these funds had risen to $741.7 billion in June 2005, or $37,050 per Australian, and grew 17.6% on the previous twelve months (APRA 2005). Frino et al. examine a sub-set of this industry, managed growth and stable-growth funds. They found a positive relationship between current-quarter cash flows and past performance.
Every generation for millennia believes that it is suffering from a higher rate of change than previously, and every generation could be correct. At any rate, managers believe that their employees must be flexible enough to adapt to change, and would like to be able to identify such individuals before hiring them. Griffin and Hesketh ask whether conscientiousness is a good predictor of workplace performance that requires adaptability. Using the two facets (achievement and dependability) of conscientiousness, the authors argue that their empirical work requires such separation, and that high achievers are likely to be adaptable, while dependables may not be.
We have already seen that two sorts of super funds can be identified, managed and stable-growth funds. More broadly, funds can be divided into balanced, growth, and capital-stable funds. Faff et al. examine the tactical asset allocation decisions of Australian funds managers, as they distribute their funds across the assets classes of equities, bonds, property, and cash (a decision which has been shown to explain more than 90% of the variation in funds returns). They are unable to find evidence that such asset allocation has delivered superior returns.
Except for managed or moderated markets (such as the retail promotions within supermarkets), events in markets do not happen with regularity. This is certainly true for financial markets, such as the stock exchange. Using a class of time-series models derived to take account of this stochasticity of events, Allen et al. in analysis of Australian data find evidence that stochastic events play a greater role in influencing the market than do time-of-day periodicities.
For fifty years, the ability to construct mean-variance-efficient portfolios has been known. To do this effectively, Sault argues that it is desirable to determine the firm-specific, industry-specific, and market components in a stock's volatility or risk. He uses Australian data to carry out this disaggregation over the past thirty years.
The final paper on this issue considers the significance of the determinants of capital structure (crudely, debt and equity) across Australian companies, both multinational and domestic. Does the level of leverage (debt) vary significantly between these two classes? Akhtar finds that it does not.
HousekeepingIn 2002 Bob Wood and Sharon Parker, the then new area editor in OB, coedited a special issue on OB in Australia, but soon after Sharon Parker stood down, and Claire Martin at QUT took over as OB area editor. Unfortunately, Claire found that the editorship was too expensive in terms of her research time, as the special issue stimulated more submissions to the Journal. Unable to find a single person to take over from Claire, earlier this year I enlisted a group of AGSM OB people to act as area editors pro tem in OB. I thank Steve Frenkel, James Carlopio, Peter Lok, and Marcus Groth for their work, which has helped me deal with the flow of OB papers. It is not, from my point of view, however, an ideal situation, since I must coordinate the choice of a member of the team, and find myself having to judge submissions in an area I am not always familiar with. For the moment, however, it continues. Thanks to all concerned.
APRA, 2005, Statistics, Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, Sydney, June 2005.
Donaldson, L. & Davis, J.H. 1991, Stewardship theory or agency theory: CEO governance and shareholder returns, Australian Journal of Management, vol.16, no.1, pp. 49-64.
Marks, R.E. 2004, The state of the Journal, Australian Journal of Management, vol.29, no.1, June.
Watts, R.L. 1977, Corporate financial statements, a product of the market and political processes, Australian Journal of Management, vol.2, no.1, pp. 53-78.
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