Considering Corruption Involved in Postpublication Oversight

[We’re pleased to welcome author Richard Arend of the University of Missouri, Kansas City. He recently published an article in the Journal of Management Inquiry entitled, “Conflicts of Interest as Corrupting the Checks and Balances in the Postpublication Oversight of Academic Business Journals.” Below, Dr. Arend shares highlights of his research and how it will impact the field of management research. Please note that this opinion is wholly Dr. Arend’s and he does not speak for SAGE.]

JMI_72ppiRGB_powerpoint.jpgWhat motivated you to pursue this research? I was stunned at the failures of post-publication oversight that I confronted as I tried to address articles that were published by others that contained significant misrepresentations that could cause harm. I was under the naive impression that academic peers, editors and publishers would understand ethical issues, and put the interests of readers and students above more personally beneficial interests. I was shocking to see how few institutions actually care about doing the right thing. It makes one wonder just how much bad research has yet to be exposed and retracted, and how much unnecessary harm it is doing.

In what ways is your research innovative? I believe that this is the first real case describing five levels of failed post-publication oversight and, further, one that proves a straightforward solution could have worked. When an external party did the necessary independent investigation, it quickly exposed the misrepresentations that should have made the articles unpublishable. Such an investigation even revealed that peers did exist who would have done the right thing. And, bringing theory to such a new case provided a new way to think about conflicts of interest – that they can become viral in a chain of oversight and corrupt it.

How do you think it will impact the field? I do hope it will cause our oversight levels to reconsider their current practices and policies. I hope it will lead to the replacement of superficial ethical oversight organizations like COPE, AACSB and others – organizations that espouse high standards but have either never investigated issues or never enforced their standards. One of the best ways to stop bad behavior is to show it will be discovered and punished, and that just isn’t very credible with the current players. If we as business academics are going to teach ethics, then the least we can do is show we can implement a working system of ethical oversight for our research. While I don’t think changes will happen soon, I am hoping that cases and articles like this one will at least lead to fruitful discussions on how to improve the standards in our field.

Sign up for email alerts through the journal homepage so you never miss the latest research!

Journal of Management Inquiry: Corruption Special Issue

JMI_72ppiRGB_powerpoint.jpgThe July 2017 Special Issue of the Journal of Management Inquiry is now online to view! This issue focuses on the phenomenon of corporate corruption, with specific topics such as counterproductive behavior, corporate culture and ethics, and media framing. Below is an excerpt from the special issue introduction entitled “Expanding Research on Corporate Corruption, Management, and Organizations,” from authors Stelios Zyglidopoulos, Paul Hirsch, Pablo Martin de Holan, and Nelson Phillips:

Corruption is a major problem in much of the world. It often prevents economic development, causes inefficiency and unfairness in the distribution of resources, can be the underlying factor behind corporate failures and industry crises, can erode the social fabric of societies, and can have other major negative impacts in the well-being of individuals and societies….But, before we proceed to discuss the topic of corruption research, we should address the issue of what corruption is and note its complexity. Transparency International (2017) defines corruption as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.” Similarly, Ashforth, Gioia, Robinson, and Treviño (2008) define corruption as “the illicit use of one’s position of power for perceived personal or collective gain” (p. 671). We believe we should enrich and expand this definition by differentiating between first- and second-order corruption….In this special issue, our purpose is not only to renew and extend the research agenda around corporate corruption, so that we can contribute toward a more sophisticated and complex understanding, but also to facilitate communication between different researchers.

Visit the JMI homepage to sign up for email alerts today!