By Rebecca Lindell
Magee has had much to relish in a distinguished career
that includes award-winning research, acclaimed teaching and
an associate deanship at the Kellogg School.
Yet as rewarding as those activities have
been, they don’t vie with what Magee says represents
his most gratifying endeavor: helming one of the top academic
journals in his field.
As editor of The Accounting Review,
Magee spent three years sifting through hundreds of submitted
articles, choosing only the most groundbreaking papers for
publication and setting the tone for further scholarly discussion
“It’s a position of trust in your
field,” says Magee, the Keith I. DeLashmutt Distinguished
Professor of Accounting and Management and now associate dean
for academic affairs, faculty and research.
“In some respects, it’s the highest
compliment your colleagues can pay you. They are giving you
the keys to the field. You get to decide what gets published,
and you get to help people refine their research.
“I would say that before I became an
associate dean, the editorship was the most challenging and
rewarding thing I’ve done in my career,” Magee
says. “It’s no longer the most challenging, but
it’s still probably the most rewarding.”
Magee is not alone in those sentiments: Kellogg’s
faculty includes the editors of four other renowned academic
journals. The professors all balance their editing duties
with their teaching and research responsibilities. Kellogg
does not pay them extra to produce those publications; nor
do the publishing companies who profit from their efforts.
So why do they do it?
The Kellogg editors repeatedly cite a rather
non-academic reason for their devotion: love.
“Editing a journal is a labor of love,”
Spulber, the Elinor Hobbs Distinguished Professor of International
Business and founding editor of the Journal of Economics
& Management Strategy. “The source of that
excitement is that you are making a contribution to your profession.
You open the door to new research, particularly by young people,
and you have a chance to encourage new ideas.”
“It really is labor, and it really is
love,” agrees Ehud Kalai, the James J. O’Connor
Distinguished Professor of Decision and Game Sciences and
founding editor of Games and Economic Behavior. “A
lot of the satisfaction comes from the sense of having your
fingers on the pulse of the field, and knowing you can influence
which way the field is going.”
Kellogg’s other executive editors include
Hirsch, one of the founding editors of the Journal
of Management Inquiry and now its executive editor; and
Professor Dawn Iacobucci, who has assumed the reins of the
Journal of Consumer Research after completing a three-year
term as editor of the Journal of Consumer Psychology.
Many more Kellogg faculty members serve on
the editorial teams of other academic journals. Their activities
range from choosing independent reviewers and making editorial
decisions to corresponding with authors and critiquing submissions.
The depth and breadth of the faculty’s
involvement in academic publishing “is a statement about
the strength of our faculty in these fields,” Iacobucci
And about their desire to make a difference.
The professors who founded their own journals, in particular,
did so with a determination to push the boundaries of their
fields. Kalai, Spulber and Hirsch all say they wanted to provide
a forum for innovative and experimental ideas that would not
have found a home elsewhere.
For example, as game theory began to blossom
in the 1980s, Kalai soon realized that the field’s tools
could prove useful to many other disciplines. He launched
Games and Economic Behavior to help shed light on
how game theory could be applied to, say, political economy
or evolutionary biology, in addition to the more traditional
areas of economics and management.
Kalai recalls one early article that explored
the competitive behavior of animals in the natural kingdom.
“It turns out that if you were to teach them the rules
of game theory, they would behave exactly as dictated by natural
evolution and survival of the fittest,” Kalai says,
still clearly delighted by the discovery.
Now, the journal has become the hub of communication
between game theory and computer science — a particularly
exciting place to be during the current digital era.
“Game theory is the critical tool for
the design of systems that perform well even under selfish
maximizing behavior, such as Web-based auctions, communications
systems, and other electronic systems used by competing agents,”
Hirsch had a similar idea when he joined the
editorial staff of the Journal of Management Inquiry
in 1990. “We already had established journals in our
field, but we didn’t have a place for the more innovative
ideas,” says Hirsch, the James L. Allen Distinguished
Professor of Strategy, Management and Organizations.
JMI has since become a showcase for
important but undeveloped new theories in management, such
as chaos and complexity theory. It also has explored social
and ethical issues in management — such as workforce
diversity — often before those ideas reached the popular
A unique feature of the journal is its point/counterpoint
approach to published research. If an interesting submission
receives a negative assessment from a respected reviewer,
the journal sometimes publishes both pieces — the article
and the review. “The first of these debates received
the journal’s ‘best article of the year award,’”
Spulber has sought to bring the same sort
of innovative spirit to the Journal of Economics &
Management Strategy. It was launched, in fact, the same
year Kellogg’s Management and Strategy Department was
created, and in many ways reflects the philosophy that guides
“The idea was that economists can do
a great job teaching management strategy, and that we can
do great work in this area,” Spulber says. “The
journal has the same idea, but for the profession as a whole.
It’s really served to highlight that notion, and it’s
been our way of putting our name on the map.”
Special issues on seminal topics such as health
care, international business, telecommunications and auctions
take this exploration to a greater depth. Spulber also seeks
to add style to the substance, with the goal of keeping the
journal’s tone refreshing.
“The greatest thrill I’ve ever
gotten editing JEMS is hearing that it’s fun
to read,” he says. “Journals often tend to repeat
a bit in style and content, but JEMS is doing new
things. The articles are not in a mold. There’s more
variety and originality.”
For each of these editors, that’s really
the bottom line — to break new ground, to lead their
fields into new territory, to midwife new ideas on their way
to a wider audience. It is a position of stewardship that
none take lightly. And, as Hirsch notes, it lends them the
chance to shape their fields for posterity.
“Our job is to make sure good ideas
don’t get lost,” he says. “You really don’t
want to find out 10 years after it has become an important
classic that the field turned down the idea when it first
made the rounds. We try to find and publish these ideas when
they are new.”