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Digitalization reduces technological and financial barriers to scientific publishing. Science can thus become faster, more inclusive and more plural. At the same time, the growing acceptance of specific forms of Open Access has also led to the rise of author-pays business models based on Article Processing Charges (APCs). The increasing publication pressure in the scientific system in combination with APCs provides incentives for creating “predatory” journals that only supposedly or very superficially conduct peer review in order to maximize their profits from such APCs. These manuscripts are at best inadequate and at worst deliberately tendentious and misleading.

How to stop predatory publishers? (Credit: SarahRichterArt, CC0)

Recently, an investigative report by the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung and public broadcasters WDR and NDR has revealed that even researchers from reputable academic institutions publish in or represent publishers of dubious quality. In their attempt to reveal “Fake Science” (using the English term in their German reportings), journalists easily accomplished the publication of a non-sensical article in an allegedly peer reviewed journal charging APCs. What they also show is how these unscientific practices not just harm the reputation of legitimate open access journals but are also a potential source – and allegedly scientific proof – for fake news more generally.

This blogpost discusses how reputable (Open Access) journals can defend their credibility against somewhat or even completely dubious Open Access journals. In our opinion, the most sustainable response, which however would only be possible in the mid to long-term, would be to abandon author-pays business models altogether and switch to publication infrastructures financed by universities and institutions (for an example of such an approach, check out the Open Library of Humanities). In the short-term, however, certain open-peer review practices might also be helpful to address the problem of predatory open access journals. Read the rest of this entry »

Screenshot of the impressively animated header image of »Orders Beyond Borders«

Recently the Global Governance Unit at the WZB Berlin Social Science Centre led by Michael Zürn has launched a new blog entitled “Orders Beyond Borders“. The first post features an Interview with Michael Zürn, in which he also reflects on the rationale behind starting a research blog:

In particular, the Blog is meant to provide a means for those who are interested in our research to get the main messages without having to read 400-page books that some of the doctoral students write after finishing their PhDs. Secondly, the Blog is meant to be a way that we can convey some of the practical and political ideas that follow from the type of work we are doing. […] In addition, it is important to us that the Blog also acts as a platform for interacting and engaging with the community.

The interview is also available as an audio file, thereby constituting the first episode of what is going to be a series of podcast interviews. Of course, the team behind the blog is also on Twitter under @obbblog. We are looking forward to reading more from our fellow bloggers and recommend subscribing to it immediately.


The increasing number of collective open access deals either on the national level (e.g., Dutch open access deals) or between publishers and research institutions (e.g., agreement of the Max Planck Society with Springer) has some very practical consequences for scientific publishing processes. On a macro level, these deals make research strong countries and institutions stronger: their papers are better accessible worldwide with respective consequences for reception and citation counts.

But there are also consequences on the micro level. For example, in co-authored papers, the question of who acts as “corresponding author” suddenly becomes of utmost importance. Only if the corresponding author is situated at an institution with such an open access deal then an article will be immediately accessible to anyone worldwide. And it is the corresponding author who has to sign copyright forms on behalf of all the authors to “seal the deal”.

Publishers pushing for Non-Commercial Clause

What I have learnt only very recently is that publishers try to retain as much rights a possible even in cases where researchers are eligible for open access publication. SAGE Publications, for instance, tries to convince – if not force – authors to opt for a Creative Commons license with the restrictive non-commercial (NC) clause (full form as a PDF):

This is troublesome for a whole bunch of reasons: Read the rest of this entry »

Today I received a surprising and pleasant e-mail by Dirk Bezemer from University of Groningen in the Netherlands. He had come across the recently published article of Sebastian Botzem and myself on “Financialization as strategy: Accounting for inter-organizational value creation in the European real estate industry” (see also a summary of key points). And he not only read the paper but also chose to use it as a teaching case.

And I am very grateful that Dirk agreed to sharing his teaching questions on this blog (DOC/PDF), thereby effectively turning a research paper into a teaching case.

Read the rest of this entry »

On Tuesday, September 26, I was invited to speak at the Digital Europe Working Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) in the European Parliament on the issue of copyright reform. Current debates circle mostly around two new articles proposed by the European Commission. Article 11 proposes to introduce a new neighbouring right for press publishers, following the (so far mostly failed) examples of Germany and Spain. Article 13, in turn, wants platform owners to implement upload filters as a means of copyright enforcement, thereby undermining liability exceptions of the EU E-Commerce directive.

The key point I was trying to make was that targeting large platforms such as Google and Facebook with ever stricter copyright regulation won’t hurt them but rather their competition and anyone else. Even now we can observe that, due to its market power, Google was able to more or less write its own copyright rules for its video platform YouTube. Actually, this had also been necessary, given the misalignment between European copyright regulation and every day online practices based (e.g., creating and sharing user-generated content) upon new digital technologies.

As a consequence, YouTube effectively functions as a transnational rights clearing center and has brought back registration requirements to copyright law in action. However, rights clearing only works on YouTube’s proprietary platform and with remuneration rules negotiated between Google and rights holders; this further strengthens Youtube’s already dominant position in the market place Introducing an upload filter requirement would only further strengthen Google’s market position, making it even more difficult for rights holders to negotiate fair remuneration.

As a way forward, I proposed introducing harmonized and remunerated exceptions for remix and bagatelle uses instead. These would be practical not just for Google but also for anyone else and help to re-align copyright law in the books with copyright law in action.

Please find a video (slides and audio only) and my slides below: Read the rest of this entry »

Back in 2013 at the Academy of Management Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida, Jakob Kapeller and I had received the prestigious Carolyn Dexter Best International Paper Award for an article comparing open strategy-making in the cases of Wikimedia and Creative Commons. Today, several rounds of revision later, we are proud to present the article “Open strategy-making with crowds and communities: Comparing Wikimedia and Creative Commons” being published in the journal Long Range Planning. The abstract of the paper reads as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

Sigrid, Markus and I have finally been able to publish another paper on the case of Creative Commons. In a longitudinal analysis we compare three embedded cases of transnational standard-setting: (1) license porting, (2) license versioning and (3) license interpretation. The article “Open to Feedback? Formal and Informal Recursivity in Creative Commons’ Transnational Standard-Setting” has been published in Global Policy and the abstract reads as follows:

In this article, we examine how non-membership organizations that claim stewardship over a transnational public or common good, such as the environmental or digital commons, develop combinations of formal and informal recursivity to develop and maintain regulatory conversations with their dispersed user communities. Based on a case study of Creative Commons, an organization that developed what have become the most widely used open licenses for digital content, we show how rhetorical openness to informal feedback from legitimacy communities in different sectors and countries can improve the feasibility and diffusion of standards. However, as long as the standard-setter’s methods of making decisions on the basis of such feedback remains opaque, its communities are likely to raise accountability demands for more extensive ex post justifications.

Read the rest of this entry »

The paper “Financialization as strategy: Accounting for inter-organizational value creation in the European real estate industry”, co-authored with Sebastian Botzem and published in Accounting, Organizations and Society, investigates an in-depth case study of a European real estate firm and its transnational relations with professional service firms, which together enable and drive a financialized business model. The key findings of our study can be summarized as follows:

  • Financialized business models, which are based upon and tailor-made to suit financial market logics, emerge in tight collaboration between real estate firms and professional service firms such as auditors, (investment) banks, notaries, attorneys and realtors, each of which profits from rising real estate prices. Because rising prices allow revaluating and refinancing earlier assets acquisitions, providing the firm with additional funds for further acquisitions without the need to selling real estate.
  • Management and structuring fees are key for the functioning and also the danger of financialized business models, which depend on rising price levels in real estate. Most of the fees are paid out to the various actors involved in real estate transactions already at the time the loans are awarded. Contrary to interest payments, which are distributed over the whole loan period, management and structuring fees increase profits – and thus also bonus payments – already in the year a transaction is made.
  • Fees not only allow premature distribution of unrealized profits but also transfer of profits into offshore tax havens: structuring fees are calculated as (tax deductible) onshore expenses and distributed as (nearly tax-exempt) offshore profits.

The full text of the article is available at the journal’s website. Please send me an e-mail in case you are interested but your institution does not provide access to the journal.

This is a slightly adapted crosspost from the osconjunction blog.


Among those immediately affected by the Executive Order signed by President Trump to suspend entry into the United States of citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen are academics with plans to attend research conferences in the US. For instance, the most important conference in the field of management – the Academy of Management (AoM) Annual Meeting – is scheduled to take place in August 4-8, in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Actually, the Annual Meeting has historically only been held in the US and in Canada.

Since papers for AoM Meeting had to be submitted by early January, several scholars whith accepted papers might not be able to attend the conference. Obviously, this would be an issue of great concern for any scholarly association. Accordingly, the AoM officials released a statement today on the subject matter:

Our members hold a range of views on the public policies that have recently been implemented. Many of you have expressed concern about travel to the Annual Meeting in Atlanta; many are interpreting the Executive Order as a direct attack on scholarship; and some are worried about the implication for pluralism on all sides of this issue. A number of you have asked the AOM to condemn the order as antithetical to scholarly values, academic freedom, and democratic processes. Yet because of our very diversity, the AOM has long had a binding policy that restricts any officer from taking a stand on any political issue in the name of the AOM.

Several of my colleagues have voiced strong opposition to such a “neutral” positioning of the AoM, mostly arguing that refusing to take a stance actually implies taking a stance. For instance, Guido Palazzo commented on Facebook:

Other scholarly associations in the social sciences decided to be more vocal on the issue. The statement by the American Sociological Association is all but neutral on the Executive Order:
Read the rest of this entry »

When Creative Commons published version 4.0 of its set of alternative copyright licenses in 2013, this represented a sea change. While previously a generic set of licenses had been legally adapted to different jurisdictions (“ported”), version 4.0 of the licenses was developed as a single globally applicable license standard. To a certain degree, a decade of laborious license porting helped to build an international network of legal professionals and a respective body of legal knowledge, which than enabled Creative Commons to abandon its porting strategy.


More than three years after this “globalization” of Creative Commons’ licenses, the NGO strives to also globalizing its organizational structure. By March 24, 2017, the various communities of Creative Commons activists, lawyers and contributors may comment on a detailed proposal for an entirely new governance structure. The proposal is accompanied by several regional and a global “Faces of the Commons” reports and additional background information on the process that led to the proposal – a particular open form of strategy-making. Read the rest of this entry »

The Book

Governance across borders: transnational fields and transversal themes. Leonhard Dobusch, Philip Mader and Sigrid Quack (eds.), 2013, epubli publishers.
August 2018
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