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Alphabet Economics: The link between names and reputation

Georgios Efthyvoulou ()

Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), 2008, vol. 37, issue 3, pages 1266-1285

Abstract: In economics, most coauthored papers have all coauthors in alphabetical order. It is sometimes argued that this conveys advantages to people whose names start with letters that come early in the alphabet. This paper examines whether the alphabetical ranking of names affects someone's reputation. Overall, we find that faculty members with earlier last name initials are more likely to get employment at high standard research departments. Furthermore, we show that the relationship between alphabetical placement and academic success remains significant if we use as an alternative measure of reputation the number of people showing an interest in the papers of a particular academic. This paper also investigates whether the reported alphabetical effect creates differential incentives for coauthoring. It is found that the reputational advantage of first-authorship motivates people to manipulate their names so as to obtain a more beneficial alphabetical position within the majority of articles.

Date: 2008
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