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Why Business Schools Do So Much Research: A Signaling Explanation




Criticism is mounting on business schools for their excessive focus on research and for neglecting teaching. We show that if students have imperfect information about a school’s overall capabilities and if business schools differ in their research productivity, the least productive schools may do as much research as the top-tier ones only to manipulate student’s expectations. In turn, the most productive schools might resort to excess research in order to signal their type in the eyes of future students. This signalling equilibrium is characterized by a relative neglect of teaching by the top-tier schools. Such a situation is socially inefficient as compared to the perfect information case.

Suggested Citation

  • Besancenot, Damien & Faria, Joao Ricardo & Vranceanu, Radu, 2008. "Why Business Schools Do So Much Research: A Signaling Explanation," ESSEC Working Papers DR 08002, ESSEC Research Center, ESSEC Business School.
  • Handle: RePEc:ebg:essewp:dr-08002

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hendrik P. van Dalen & Arjo Klamer, 2005. "Is Science A Case of Wasteful Competition?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(3), pages 395-414, July.
    2. David N. Laband & Robert D. Tollison, 2003. "Dry Holes in Economic Research," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(2), pages 161-173, May.
    3. Michael Spence, 2002. "Signaling in Retrospect and the Informational Structure of Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(3), pages 434-459, June.
    4. J. S. Armstrong, 2005. "The Devil s Advocate Responds to an MBA Student s Claim that Research Harms Learning," General Economics and Teaching 0502008, EconWPA.
    5. Tom Coupé, 2004. "What Do We Know about Ourselves? on the Economics of Economics," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(2), pages 197-215, May.
    6. Arthur M. Diamond, 1993. "Economic Explanations of the Behaviour of Universities and Scholars," Journal of Economic Studies, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 20(4/5), pages 107-133, September.
    7. Besancenot, Damien & Huynh, Kim & Vranceanu, Radu, 2006. "The "Read or Write" Dilemma in Academic Production: A European Perspective," ESSEC Working Papers DR 06021, ESSEC Research Center, ESSEC Business School.
    8. Besancenot, Damien & Vranceanu, Radu, 2008. "Can incentives for research harm research? A business schools' tale," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 1248-1265, June.
    9. Siow, Aloysius, 1997. "Some evidence on the signalling role of research in academia," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 271-276, July.
    10. Elizabeth Becker & Cotton M. Lindsay & Gary Grizzle, 2003. "The derived demand for faculty research," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(8), pages 549-567.
    11. Besancenot, Damien & Faria, João Ricardo, 2010. "Good research and bad teaching? A business school tale," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 67-72, June.
    12. Michael Spence, 1973. "Job Market Signaling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(3), pages 355-374.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jellal, Mohamed & Faria, Joao & Elaoufi, Noureddine, 2012. "Endogenous dynamic academic research culture," MPRA Paper 38711, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Naiditch, Claire & Vranceanu, Radu, 2011. "Remittances as a social status signaling device," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(4), pages 305-318, December.
    3. Fouad El Ouardighi & Konstantin Kogan & Radu Vranceanu, 2013. "Publish or Teach ? : Analysis of the Professor's Optimal Career Plan," Working Papers hal-00823514, HAL.
    4. Besancenot, Damien & Faria, João Ricardo, 2010. "Good research and bad teaching? A business school tale," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 67-72, June.
    5. El Ouardighi, Fouad & Kogan, Konstantin & Vranceanu, Radu, 2013. "Publish or teach? Analysis of the professor's optimal career path," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 37(10), pages 1995-2009.
    6. repec:spr:ecogov:v:19:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10101-017-0200-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. repec:eee:worbus:v:52:y:2017:i:6:p:831-841 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:hal:journl:hal-00823514 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. João Ricardo Faria & Rajeev K. Goel, 2016. "Academic Publication Uncertainty and Publishing Behavior: A Game-Theoretic Perspective," CESifo Working Paper Series 6176, CESifo Group Munich.
    10. Stefano Bianchini & Francesco Lissoni & Michele Pezzoni & Lorenzo Zirulia, 2016. "The economics of research, consulting, and teaching quality: theory and evidence from a technical university," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 25(7), pages 668-691, October.
    11. repec:jes:wpaper:y:2012:v:4:p:636-647 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Carmen Anton & Nelu Florea & Silviu-Mihail Tiþã, 2012. "Comparison Of Scientific Socio-Economic Research Performances In Eastern European Universities," CES Working Papers, Centre for European Studies, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University, vol. 4(4), pages 636-647, December.

    More about this item


    Business Schools; Research management; Research policy; Research vs. teaching; Signalling; Imperfect information;

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions


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