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Manoeuvring towards research decline: The RAE and the decline of Britain's international research standing

John Saunders (Aston Business School, Aston University, Birmingham, UK, and Audencia Nantes School of Management, Nantes, France)
Veronica Wong (Sussex University, Brighton, UK, and Audencia Nantes School of Management, Nantes, France)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 5 April 2011




This research paper aims to examine the global trends in publishing in the leading marketing journals between 1964 and 2008, focusing on how public policy intervention in the assessment and funding of academic research has influenced Britain's relative productivity in the world's leading marketing journals.


The method was an audit of contributions to the leading journals based on the authors' affiliation, country of origin and country in which they obtained their doctoral training.


The results show that the proportion of leading marketing publications by authors affiliated to British universities have held steady at about 2 per cent, while the productivity of several other countries has accelerated past Britain. However, to retain that share, Britain has increasingly depended upon importing people whose PhD is not British. This contrasts with some other European countries that are now more productive than Britain, but mainly recruit locals with local PhDs. The pattern of decline in the UK is related to the impact of Britain's research assessment exercise and the continuation of relatively weak social science research training.

Research limitations/implications

The analysis is limited by only looking at one academic discipline and only the top few academic journals in the field.

Practical implications

The findings have implications at several levels. At a national policy level it questions the value of the research assessment exercises that appear to have presided over a decline in research productivity. For institutions, it questions the value in investing in developing local talent when success has come to those who buy talent internationally. Perhaps, the major implication arises from Britain's academic productivity declining while neighbouring countries have grown in international excellence.


At a time when the continuation of expensive university research assessments is being questioned the research findings add value to the current debate in showing how that very process has accompanied academic decline.



Saunders, J. and Wong, V. (2011), "Manoeuvring towards research decline: The RAE and the decline of Britain's international research standing", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 45 No. 4, pp. 484-512.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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