Glenn Ellison (MIT and NBER) published a paper in 2007, titled "Is peer review to decline?". The author suggests three possible reasons for his observation that economists of high ranked economic department seem to avoid publishing in top economic journals. A positive interpretation could be that more talent (of less reknown institutes?) pushes out the publication ratio of the top institutes. Another suggestion is that journals need too much time for reviewing and therefor they become less interesting to publish in. Allow me to observe that it are often the same top economists that are the reviewers for these top journals, hence they would cause themselves the problem they would suffer from. I think therefor this second cause is not necessarily a realistic one. Having said this, it does suggest that there is an inner crowd, where the "peers" review the "peers". The third suggested reason is that the overall quality of the journals would decline. In my opinion, this does suggest that only top economists of top economic institutes would be able to publish quality, which for me is such an elitist assumption that it can not seriously be true. Within the choice Ellison gives us, I go for the first one (the optimistic one; there is hop, Johanna, ...)
It would not be me if I would not have another suggestion to do. And what if the only message that Ellison's calculations give us is that where publishing (the numbers) has been the issue for years, maybe eventually the innovative quality of the research would start to matter. Isn't it true that mainstream economics is hardly innovative, or even relevant according to some (see my earlier posts)? And as long as a limited group of likeminded review the same group of likeminded, innovation in subjects, research methodologies, etc, is far from being granted. Maybe we just witness a slow shift of research that becomes more and more interested in searching and no longer in re-searching (searching what already has been searching, and then finding what already has been found; no surprise). Economics and management science along, could certainly use a bit of new blood, new ideas, new research approaches that are already common place in many of our neighboring sciences, but didn't reach yet the Newtonian economists.
I have learned a new word: evolutionary economists. I hope it will produce some real evolutionary economics.