First Author Conditions

22 Pages Posted: 28 Jun 1998

See all articles by Maxim Engers

Maxim Engers

University of Virginia - Department of Economics

Joshua S. Gans

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management; NBER

Simon Grant

Rice University - Department of Economics; Australian National University

Stephen P. King

Monash University - Department of Economics; Productivity Commission

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 1998


This paper provides a theoretical explanation for the persistent use of alphabetical name-orderings on academic papers in economics. In a context where market participants are interested in evaluating the relative individual contribution of authors, it is an equilibrium for papers to use alphabetical ordering. Moreover, it is never an equilibrium for authors always to be listed in order of relative contribution. In fact, we show via an example that the alphabetical name-ordering norm may be the unique equilibrium, although, multiple equilibria are also possible. Finally, we characterize the welfare properties of the noncooperative equilibrium and show it to produce research of lower quality than is optimal and than would be achieved if co-authors were forced to use name-ordering to signal relative contribution.

JEL Classification: A11, D21

Suggested Citation

Engers, Maxim P. and Gans, Joshua S. and Grant, Simon Harold and King, Stephen Peter, First Author Conditions (May 1998). Available at SSRN: or

Maxim P. Engers

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Joshua S. Gans (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management ( email )



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Simon Harold Grant

Rice University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Stephen Peter King

Monash University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Productivity Commission ( email )

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