Kellogg World Alumni Magazine, Summer 2002Kellogg School of Management
In DepthIn BriefFaculty NewsClass NotesClub NewsArchivesContactKellogg Homepage
Achieving marketing leadership
Theory & Practice: Zajac
Theory & Practice: Mueller
Back to school
Page turners and idea churners
Part-time students, full-time experience
Trade off?
GIM opens the doors to the world
Address Update
Alumni Home
Submit News
Address Update Alumni Events Submit News
Internal Site
Northwestern University
Site Index Search Internal Site Northwestern University
Kellogg Search
  Ehud Kalai
© Nathan Mandell
Editor of Games and Economic Behavior, Professor Ehud Kalai
Page Turners and Idea Churners
Academic journals at Kellogg are changing the way people in many disciplines think, and the subjects they think about.

By Rebecca Lindell

Robert 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 and research.

“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,” says Daniel 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 Professor Paul 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 says.

Games and Economic Behavior  
Journal of Economics & Management Strategy  
Journal of Management Inquiry  

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,” Kalai says.

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 press.

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,’” Hirsch notes.

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 department.

“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.”

©2002 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University