For nearly 100 years since its founding in 1922, the Harvard Business Review has been connecting business school research for practicing managers and executives. From an initial print run of just 6,000 copies, the journal’s circulation last year of 340,0000 achieved a new record.
But now a serious rival to HBR is being launched by three scholars who will serve as editors-in-chief. Unlike HBR, which is published by Harvard Business School, the Management and Business Review is the result of a grassroots initiative supported by a wide range of schools.
The trio of editors—Wally Hopp of the University of Michigan, Christopher Ittner of the Wharton School, and Kalyan Singhal of the University of Baltimore—expect to publish the first of four issues next year in March. They have already assembled a group of 189 advisors from academia and the corporate sector as well as 11 co-sponsoring schools, including Michigan, UCLA, Carnegie Mellon, INSEAD, and Ceibs.
A RIVAL TO HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW FOR 20 MILLION POTENTIAL READERS
Singhal estimates that there are more than 20 million potential readers worldwide for journals aimed at practicing managers and more than 200,000 business school professors pumping out research. Of course, almost all of what those profs produce end up in journals read by handfuls of other academics.
“Over 98% of them never even attempt to publish in HBR,” says Singhal. “We want to reach those authors. They don’t write practitioner articles partly because they won’t get accepted or schools won’t count HBR as much as other journals. If HBR rejects the article, they are not sure they will get acknowledged by their deans.”
Singhal believes that HBR and the two other journals aimed at managers—Sloan Management Review and the California Management Review—reach only a small fraction of the potential audience. Singhal estimates that the circulation of both Sloan and California is just a tenth of HBR’s circulation.
HAS HBR BECOME TOO JOURNALISTIC?
“Many feel there are many things about HBR that they don’t like,” says Singhal. “They think it is more difficult to publish in HBR if you are not Harvard faculty, though that is not necessarily true. But HBR has also moved more toward journalism since Adi was hired.” Singhal is referring to Adi Ignatius, the former deputy managing editor of Time who became editor-in-chief of the Harvard Business Review ten years ago.
“We need control by the community not just by one school,” insists Singhal. He also adds that shorter articles published by professors on HBR’s online channel are likely to find a more permanent home in the Management and Business Review. “Many professors don’t think that publishing a two-page digital article gives them credibility with their dean. So they are likely to publish in our journal.”
The plan is to send the debut issue to business school deans and the CEOs of the top 1,000 corporations. The group also will distribute electronic copies of the journal for free to millions of readers.
‘WE ARE WILLING TO SPEND WHATEVER MONEY IS NEEDED’
An operations professor with an MBA from Kent State University, Singhal founded the Product and Operations Management Society in 1989 and its scholarly publication, the Production and Operations Management Journal, for which he remains editor-in-chief, one of the longest-serving editors of a major academic journal. The journal is one of 20 tracked by Bloomberg Businessweek for the research metric the magazine’s annual MBA rankings.
Funding for the new initiative, says Singhal, is coming from several deep-pocketed friends. He is a 1967 graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay and several of his classmates have become highly successful in Silicon Valley.
“I have a few friends who have known me for years and think this will be successful,” explains the professor. “They have deep pockets. And we are willing to spend whatever money is needed.”
ADVISORS TO THE NEW JOURNAL INCLUDE MORE THAN A DOZEN PROFS FROM HBS
Singhal has been thinking about launching the journal for a dozen years, though he has been active on it with Hopp from the Ross School of Business for the past eight years. During that time, he and Hopp have largely been enlisting the support of the business school community.
Among the advisors—several of whom are likely to contribute to the new journal—are 14 professors from Wharton, 13 from Harvard Business School, and seven from Dartmouth Tuck. But the full list of professors come from a wide variety of prestige institutions, including Columbia, Northwestern Kellogg, Chicago Booth, INSEAD, Michigan Ross, and NYU Stern.
Though the Management and Business Review will initially be published quarterly, Singhal hopes to increase the publication’s frequency as it gains wider acceptance. “We don’t know where this will go,” he says. “The frequency depends on what we get. In the first year, all papers are invited from the top schools and the top people.”
Part of the formula for gaining acceptance relies on a novel custom publishing model in which an individual school can decide to have its name on the journal first along with two or more articles from its professors. “If Ross wants, they could have their own journal and it will be called Ross Management Review and under that Management and Business Review. It would include two or more articles from Ross while the second part is our journal. They could then send it to students, alumni, executive education participants. It will do wonders for their brand.”
DON’T MISS: OUR MBA PROFESSOR OF THE WEEK SERIES