Power, powerlessness, and journal ranking lists: The marginalization of fields of practice

Valerie Anderson, Carole Elliott, Jamie Callahan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This essay contributes a new perspective to debates about journal ranking lists and their effects on the practice of scholarship. Our argument is grounded in practice theory and draws on Bourdieu’s concept of field. We examine the effect of metrics, targets and rankings on Human Resource Development (HRD), a conjunctive field associated with the Management Learning and Education (MLE) field. We examine the ways in which the boundaries of the MLE field are shaped by journal ranking lists and how, irrespective of seniority in the field, scholars simultaneously experience both power and powerlessness as a result of journal ranking processes. We contribute a new perspective on issues of academic practice with consequences for specialized areas of scholarship. We conclude by proposing practical interventions that senior scholars and journal editors can undertake to challenge the undesirable effects of ranking systems and encourage scholarly diversity.

© 2020, The Author(s). The attached document (embargoed until 03/01/2021) is an author produced version of a paper published in ACADEMY OF MANAGEMENT LEARNING AND EDUCATION uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages48
JournalAcademy of Management Learning and Education
Early online date3 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jan 2020


  • Human Resource Development
  • Management Learning and Education
  • social practice
  • journal rankings

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