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Endogenous Selection into Single and Coauthorships by Surname Initials in Economics and Management

by David Ong, PHBS

Tuesday, December 30, 2014 | 12:30pm-2:00pm | Room 237, HSBC Business School


Although previous studies show that alphabetic ordering confers professional advantages on authors whose surnames begin with letters early in the alphabet, these investigations ignore selection into coauthorship, based upon these very incentives identified, from the single authorship alternative. We therefore develop an alternative model with endogenous selection into single and coauthorships in economics that we test using management authorship as a benchmark. We assume that authors will want higher quality coauthors as first authors in order to make up for the forgone credit. We demonstrate theoretically that authors with a lower citation ranking (as a proxy for ability), whose surnames have early alphabetic positioning, will be less desirable as coauthors, while authors with a higher citation ranking, whose surnames have later positioning, will be less willing to coauthor. Both will thus be more likely to single author. As a consequence, higher ability early initial authors should also have more and better coauthoring options. Consistent with our predictions, we find that in economics, citation rank increases with surname initial for single authors, but decreases for coauthors, both absolutely and relative to management authors. Our evidence of endogenous selection offers an alternative explanation for prior findings. We elaborate on possible consequences for research productivity.