Published: Feb. 5, 2021 By

ABSTRACT This paper speaks to deans, department chairs, and members of tenure and promotion committees, i.e., the gatekeepers of scholarly contributions in universities. It offers an extension of the article by Aguinis, Cummings, Ramani, and Cummings (2020a) on the “an A is an A” approach to evaluating research contributions by proposing to consider the role of scholarly books. Aguinis et al. (2020a) and other scholars, e.g., Harley (2019), Phillips (2019), and Rasheed and Priem (2020), highlight the positive and particularly the negative consequences of the “an A is an A” approach. All authors offer recommendations to mitigate negative consequences such as a diminished advancement of management theory and knowledge, questionable research practices or a lack of practical implications. For example, to enhance knowledge advancement and to encourage practically relevant research, it is argued that multiple measures of research performance should be used that consider valuable contributions other than A-journal publications. To curtail questionable research practices, the authors propose to intensify research skills training and development. The problem with these proposals is that while many universities follow several of these recommended practices already, they have not led to systemic changes in the desired directions so that there would be noticeable reductions of the negative consequences of the “an A is an A” approach (Alvesson & Gabriel, 2013; Bresser & Balkin, in press; Rasheed & Priem, 2020). Aguinis et al. (2020a:145) surmise that “the current situation in business schools is not sustainable.” In a follow-up exchange article in AMP, Aguinis et al. (2020b) reiterate their call for policies and reward systems that lead to greater stakeholder alignment, e.g., between management scholars and practitioners, by encouraging scholars to shed their “obsession with A journals” and produce knowledge for a broad set of stakeholders (Aguinis et al., 2020a:145). Possibly, the field’s established scholars so far have resisted introducing comprehensive changes to a system that, in spite of its negative consequences, has brought them success over an entire career (Rasheed & Priem, 2020: 162). While the recommendations proposed by Aguinis et al. (2020a) and others deserve the consideration and support of institutional gatekeepers, we challenge deans, department chairs, and senior academics involved in tenure and promotion decisions to open their minds to the scholarly book as having the potential to being a major contribution to scholarship. Currently, tenure and promotion guidelines at business schools do not encourage and sometimes actively discourage scholars to pursue book projects (Suddaby & Quinn Trank, 2013). However, we contend that it is not necessary to establish a career as a successful scholar by focusing on A-journals exclusively. Scholarly books can, and in our opinion should play a major role in promotion decisions for mature scholars. Subsequently, we define the scholarly book first. What follows is an account of several exemplars of scholarly books and their benefits to the field of management. Thereafter, we present a system of multiple measures that gatekeepers can use to evaluate the quality of a scholarly book, and discuss provisions to incentivize faculty to write a scholarly book. We conclude by reiterating our appeal to institutional gatekeepers to augment the role of scholarly books.

Scholarly Books as Complementary Contributions to “A’s” - Academy of Management Perspectives. Available from: