Your Excellency

Nick Butler, Sverre Spoelstra*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The idea of 'excellence' has become widespread in the modern university, in part due to UK assessment exercises such as the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) and the Research Excellence Framework (REF). As a result, academic careers are becoming increasingly oriented around publications in highly ranked journals. For critical management scholars, this poses a particular difficulty: how to negotiate the demand for excellence at the same time as maintaining a critical ethos in relation to one's work. Our study, which is based on interviews with members of the editorial board of Organization, examines this tension by outlining the 'secrets of excellence' according to some of the most excellent critical management scholars in the field. Although our tone is at times ironic and provocative, the paper arises from a genuine concern about the risks involved in playing the publication game. Ultimately, we argue that the game of excellence tends to master its players, rather than the other way around.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)891-903
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Critical management studies
  • Excellence
  • Journal rankings
  • Game-playing

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