Research Governance in Academia: Are There Alternatives to Academic Rankings?

CESifo Working Paper Series No. 2797

IEW Working Paper No. 423

55 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2009

See all articles by Margit Osterloh

Margit Osterloh

University of Basel; Professor (em.) University of Zurich

Bruno S. Frey

CREMA; University of Basel

Date Written: October 1, 2009


Peer reviews and rankings today are the backbone of research governance, but recently came under scrutiny. They take explicitly or implicitly agency theory as a theoretical basis. The emerging psychological economics opens a new perspective. As scholarly research is a mainly curiosity driven endeavor, we include intrinsic motivation and supportive feedback by the peers as important determinants of scholarly behavior. We discuss whether a stronger emphasis on selection and socialization offers an alternative to the present regime of academic rankings.

Keywords: peer reviews, rankings, research governance, agency theory, psychological economics, new public management, economics of science, control theory

JEL Classification: O30, O39

Suggested Citation

Osterloh, Margit and Frey, Bruno S., Research Governance in Academia: Are There Alternatives to Academic Rankings? (October 1, 2009). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 2797, IEW Working Paper No. 423, Available at SSRN: or

Margit Osterloh (Contact Author)

University of Basel ( email )

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Professor (em.) University of Zurich ( email )

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Bruno S. Frey

CREMA ( email )

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Zurich, CH 8008
+41 44 380 00 78 (Phone)

University of Basel ( email )

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Basel, 4002