Historical Social Research
Thierry Rossier & Felix Bühlmann
The Internationalisation of Economics and Business Studies: Import
of Excellence, Cosmopolitan Capital, or American Dominance?
Thierry Rossier and Felix Bühlmann. 2018. The Internationalisation of Economics and
Business Studies: Import of Excellence, Cosmopolitan Capital, or American Dominance?
Historical Social Research 43 (3): 189-215. doi: 10.12759/hsr.43.2018.3.189-215.
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Historical Social Research 43 (2018) 3
Historical Social Research
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Thierry Rossier & Felix Bühlmann
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and our extensive online archive, please visit http://www.gesis.org/en/hsr.
Historical Social Research
Historical Social Research 43 (2018) 3, 189-215 │ published by GESIS
The Internationalisation of Economics and Business
Studies: Import of Excellence, Cosmopolitan Capital,
or American Dominance?
Thierry Rossier & Felix Bühlmann
»Internationalisierung der Volks- und Betriebswirtschaftslehre: Exzel-
lenzimport, kosmopolitisches Kapital oder amerikanische Dominanz?«
. In recent
times internationality has become an indicator for scientific excellence arguing
that it will create talent, diversity, and inspiration. But what does “internation-
ality” really stand for in science? In order to answer this question we study two
of the most hierarchized and internationalised disciplines – economics and busi-
ness studies – in one of the most internationalised academic labour markets –
Switzerland. Based on a historical database of 411 (full and associate) university
professors of economics and business studies at three benchmarks (1957, 1980,
and 2000), we investigate the evolution of internationality during the second
part of the 20th century, and its link to scientific prestige and recognition. For
both disciplines we find an increase in foreign professors and internationalisa-
tion of Swiss professors due to doctorial and postdoctoral phases spent in the US
and other shorter stays abroad. This development can first be observed in eco-
nomics, but business studies have managed to “catch up.” Using three negative
binomial regression models we show that Switzerland imports excellence
among professors and that high scientific prestige is linked to stays abroad, es-
pecially in the dominant US fields of economics and business studies.
Keywords: Internationalization, economics, business studies, professors, sci-
ence, excellence, cosmopolitan capital.
Science is ‘universal,’ ‘global,’ and ‘international.’ This is the mantra of funding
agencies, university rankings, and politicians. In the last decades, internationality
has increasingly become a central indicator for scientific excellence, with the
argument that it will provide more talent, diversity, and mutual inspiration. But
∗ Thierry Rossier, University of Lausanne, Quartier UNIL-Mouline, Bâtiment Géopolis, CH-1015
Lausanne, Switzerland; email@example.com.
Felix Bühlmann, University of Lausanne, Quartier UNIL-Mouline, Bâtiment Géopolis, CH-1015
Lausanne, Switzerland; firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 We thank the editors and Elisa Klüger for their precious comments on earlier versions of this
HSR 43 (2018) 3 │ 190
what does ‘internationality’ really stand for in the context of science? Scientific
internationality has taken many forms over the 20th century: the international
circulation of ideas, international mobility of individual researchers, interna-
tional research collaborations and publications, transnational research centres,
etc. Despite the inclusive discourse of scientific policy makers, a closer look at
the different forms of international scientific practices quickly reveals the hier-
archies between nations, disciplines, and individual scholars. Scientific re-
sources and scientific prestige are unequally distributed among national science
spaces. This unequal distribution creates relations of opposition and depend-
ence between ‘centres’ and ‘peripheries’ (Dubois, Gingras and Rosental 2016).
At the disciplinary level, some scientific fields have managed to spread and
homogenise their theories and methods on an international scale, while others
remain national or regional in their orientation. These differences are reflected
in the internal structures of these disciplines and also have repercussions for the
size and scope of their audiences and recruiting pools. Finally, at the individual
level, endowment with different types of capitals linked to internationality can
contribute to the scientific recognition and prestige of scholars and participates,
therefore, in the hierarchisation of the relations between them. This dynamic of
internationalisation raises the question of whether ‘international scholars’ enjoy
a higher scientific reputation and, therefore, are able to exert more power in the
scientific field than ‘national’ or ‘local’ scientists.
Economics and business studies are two increasingly dominant scientific
disciplines, both in academia and in political and economic domains (Fourcade
2009; Lebaron 2001, 2006; Pühringer 2016).2 As we can see in the curricula
available on their personal pages on the university departmental websites, the
professors of those disciplines highly value research and teaching experiences
abroad. They participate regularly in international scientific conferences, apply
for travel grants, and enjoy fellowships in various countries. Their scientific
activities involve international collaboration, co-authorship and publications in
the most prestigious peer-reviewed journals of their field at the transnational
level. International resources seem to be intimately tied to specific scientific
capital in economics and business studies. Among all those activities, those
related to the US field of economic sciences seem to be particularly valued.
The US and its most prestigious universities are placed at the top of an interna-
tional hierarchy within the disciplines. In economic sciences, this international
hierarchy is sharper than in other disciplines of the social sciences, in law, or
2 In Switzerland, since the 1990s, professors of economic sciences have frequently been
elected university vice-chancellors, more than representatives of all other disciplines. Fur-
thermore, besides law professors, they are the most strongly represented discipline in the
Swiss political and administrative elite (members of the Swiss Parliament or the high civil
service). They also are by far the first-most-represented group of professors within the Swiss
economic elite (members of the executive or non-executive boards of the 110 largest Swiss
companies) (Rossier 2017).
HSR 43 (2018) 3 │ 191
the humanities (Rossier, Beetschen, Mach and Bühlmann 2017; Fourcade,
Ollion and Algan 2015). Our aim is to describe the internationalisation of the
economic sciences in the second half of the 20th century and to examine the
relationship between scientific prestige and internationality. To do this, we
study Switzerland, one of the most internationalised academic labour markets.
To investigate the relations between scientific prestige and international re-
sources, this paper is based on a historical database of 411 extraordinary (asso-
ciate) and ordinary (full) professors of economics and business studies at the
three benchmark dates of 1957, 1980, and 2000. To understand the evolution of
the internationality of economics and business studies, we ask how it has
evolved in Switzerland during the second part of the 20th century, and we
study how the international (and specifically US) orientation of professors is
related to scientific capital. We then ask what specific meaning different forms
of ‘internationality’ – such as foreign citizenship, a PhD obtained in another
country, or a prolonged research stay abroad – have for these professors’ ca-
reers. By conceptualising international resources as ‘import of excellence’ and
‘cosmopolitan capital,’ we study the value they have for scientific prestige,
understood as scientific capital and measured by the number of citations in the
Web of Science citation index. Does Switzerland import ‘scientific excellence,’
i.e., do foreign professors generally have a higher scientific reputation than
their Swiss colleagues, or is scientific recognition related to international expe-
rience as such – do those who have stayed abroad and are generally at ease in
an international context enjoy a higher scientific prestige? Finally, could it be
that scientific reputation is mainly derived from stays in the US, the globally
dominant scientific field in economics and business studies?
The article is organized as follows: first, we discuss the internationalisation
of economic sciences and the different forms of meaning that have been at-
tributed to ‘internationality’ in the literature. Drawing on this theoretical dis-
cussion, we formulate the two research questions guiding this article and then
present our data and analytical strategy. In the result section we first show
descriptively how the economic sciences in Switzerland were internationalised
during the second part of the 20th century and then focus on an explanation of
the relationship between internationality and scientific reputation. In the con-
clusion, we summarize our findings and discuss their relevance in light of the
broader debates in the sociology of science.
HSR 43 (2018) 3 │ 192
2.1 The Internationalisation of (Economic) Sciences
National fields3 often experience influences from other national or transnational
fields (Bühlmann et al. 2017). There exist numerous examples in which either
the stakes of the field correspond to practices or knowledge related to interna-
tional dynamics or where the field boundaries transcend national borders
(Krause 2017; Buchholz 2016; Go and Krause 2016; Schmidt-Wellenburg
2017; Bourdieu 2000, 339-50). In the second half of the 20th century, science
has become one of the most internationalised fields (Dubois, Gingras and
Rosental 2016; Mosbah-Natanson and Gingras 2013). Through circulation of
persons, texts and objects, through methods of knowledge production and
through research funding, science has acquired an international dimension, and
the specific capital4 of this field, scientific capital,5 seems to be increasingly
linked to internationality and to be intertwined with resources acquired abroad
(Gingras 2002, 31; Bourdieu 2004, 76). During a large part of the 20th century,
scientists with international resources were more independent from local or
national forms of political (or economic) power and were therefore rather situ-
ated at the ‘scientific pole’ (against the ‘worldly pole’) of the scientific field.
However, the internationalisation of business relations and the rise of supra-
national forms of government may have led to new forms of integration of
international scientists into transnational fields of power (Bourdieu 1988) – the
internationalized scientist may no longer be so clearly situated at the scientific
pole of the field.
Economics and business studies are among the most internationalised aca-
demic disciplines. In the recent period, they have become the disciplines with
the highest rate of international collaborations and research among the social
sciences and the humanities (Gingras 2002, 35). We can assume that in the
economic sciences,6 the conversion of international resources into scientific
3 A field is a relatively autonomous social space. Inside this space, agents struggle for specific
resources or capitals, which enables them to occupy a more or less dominant position within
the field (Bourdieu 1996; Savage and Silva 2013, 113; Lahire 1999, 24-6).
4 Capitals are inherited or acquired resources or assets, which allow individuals to obtain a
certain advantage over others in a particular field (Bourdieu 1986; Savage, Warde and
5 Scientific capital is a “set of properties which are the products of acts of knowledge and
recognition performed by agents engaged into the scientific field and therefore endowed
with the specific categories of perception that enable them to make the pertinent distinc-
tions, in accordance with the principle of pertinence that is constitutive of the nomos of the
field” (Bourdieu 2004, 55).
6 In this article, we refer to economics and business studies as ‘economic sciences.’ In Switzer-
land, they correspond to the two main disciplines studying the economy, either in its private
HSR 43 (2018) 3 │ 193
resources is particularly central. For example, the discursive construction of
scientific excellence, a device for academic distinction, is often linked to (and
based on) the internationalization of the profession (Maesse 2017). This is also
– and maybe even especially ‒ true for a country such as Switzerland. Countries
of small or medium size and centrality tend to unilaterally import people, expe-
rience, and modes of producing knowledge from dominant scientific centres
(Heilbron 2001). As a smaller country, Switzerland is surrounded by (culturally
and linguistically) ‘big’ and ‘central’ neighbours and has imported scientific
personnel, ideas, and resources first from these neighbouring countries. In eco-
nomics, the Swiss academic space had undergone direct German and French
influence since the 19th century (Jost 1997). Already in the early 20th century
and even more so after the Second World War, the economic sciences in Switzer-
land came under the influence of the US and its scientific culture (Jurt 2007).
2.2. Import of Excellence, Cosmopolitan Capital, or American
What is the larger rationale behind processes of internationalisation in science?
In the following section, we present three arguments that can be found in the
literature: import of excellence, cosmopolitan capital, and American dominance.
Import of excellence: A first, rather prosaic thesis about the relationship be-
tween internationalisation and scientific reputation might simply state that
particularly small and (financially) attractive scientific fields, such as the Swiss
field, are able to import scientific excellence. These mechanisms might bear on
the comparatively high salaries and advantageous research conditions at Swiss
universities. In addition, the fact that German and French are spoken at Swiss
universities might encourage German and French researchers to migrate to
Switzerland rather than to another country whose native language they do not
speak well. In the case of Germany, we can also emphasize structural similari-
ties between the university systems, based on similar federal structures and
comparable university cultures and influenced by the Humboltian system
(Charle and Verger 2007; Rüegg 2004; Fumasoli and Goastellec 2015). In both
Germany and German-speaking Switzerland, the Habilitation is an important
precondition for the recruitment of professors and therefore facilitates the trans-
fer from German to Swiss-German Universities. For Swiss universities, Ger-
man-speaking and French-speaking countries are important enlargements of
their recruitment pools and allow them to broaden the selection of their future
or public form. They often emerged in the same institutions and were, sometimes, taught by
the same professors, before experiencing a process of relative differentiation. However, in
the recent period, economics and business have again become very ‘close’ to each other
(Fourcade and Khurana 2013; Jovanovic 2009). In addition, finance has emerged as a third
HSR 43 (2018) 3 │ 194
professors. Therefore, we can presume that Swiss universities are able to ‘im-
port’ foreign professors with an excellent scientific reputation. As a conse-
quence, it is likely that, on average, foreign professors enjoy a particularly high
scientific reputation, whereas their Swiss colleagues might be recruited on the
basis of their local networks and on other ‘worldly’ grounds.
Cosmopolitan capital as symbolic resource: In the recent literature, ‘interna-
tionality’ has also been conceptualised as cosmopolitan (or international) capital.
This form of capital can be defined as a variety of cultural, linguistic, economic,
social, or symbolic resources linked to familiarity with more than one country
(Wagner and Réau 2015, 34). This capital enables actors to ‘feel at home,’ even
in places that are geographically far away. Individuals possessing a high
amount of cosmopolitan capital speak foreign languages, are familiar with
foreign countries, have friends and family in several places around the world,
are used to travel, and are at ease in exchanges with people from different
countries (Bühlmann, David and Mach 2013, 215; Wagner 2007, 43). These
resources can be inherited (for example, through a foreign national ‘origin’) or
acquired (for example, via an education abroad). Career spells abroad can
become a way of acquiring and accumulating cosmopolitan resources. They
can be converted into further symbolic resources in a new country or reinforce
a position in one’s country of origin (Araujo and Bühlmann 2015; Dezalay
2004; Dezalay and Garth 2006; Karady 1998, 2002). Therefore, in the context
of a particularly internationalised field, cosmopolitan capital can work as a
multiplier of specific symbolic capital. We can presume that the recognition of
scientific ‘excellence’ is closely associated with cosmopolitan capital.
American dominance: the recent literature on economics and business studies
shows that national fields in these disciplines have become strongly hier-
archized and dominated by the US. In economics, US standards of work and
professional practices, such as mathematical economics, econometrics as well
as the intellectual and methodological universalism of neoclassical economics,
have spread all over the world. Furthermore, many foreign students and re-
searchers went to US universities for studies and training. Scholars who stayed
in the US brought home an ‘American scientific style’ to their countries and in
this way contributed to a worldwide standardization of the profession (Four-
cade 2006). Already, between the 1930s and the 1950s, influent economists in
Europe (Nützenadel 2005, 61), Latin America (Fourcade-Gourinchas and Babb
2002; Heredia 2014; Klüger 2017) or Asia (Dezalay and Garth 2006) were
trained in the US and were able to convert this particular type of cosmopolitan
capital into positions of power when they returned to their countries. Currently,
in scientific economics (but also in business studies), most of the prestigious
journals are American (Fourcade, Ollion and Algan 2015). Also, when it comes
to teaching, European universities are inspired by US teaching methods, for
example through the global spread of the Masters of Business Administration
(MBAs) and business schools (Moon and Wotipka 2006; Khurana 2007; Pavis
HSR 43 (2018) 3 │ 195
2008). Switzerland is no exception: both economics and business studies have
experienced a process of ‘Americanization’ during the second part of the 20th
century (Burren 2007; Jurt 2007; David and Schaufelbuehl 2015). We can
therefore posit that the experiences and relations with the US field of economic
sciences are important for Swiss university professors’ scientific prestige.
2.3 Research Questions
Drawing on these theoretical insights and previous research findings, our em-
pirical analyses will be guided by two sets of research questions:
- First, we address the internationalization of economics and business studies
in Switzerland: How has the share of international professors developed
over time and from which countries do professors migrate to Switzerland?
How have international experiences, such as PhDs received abroad and
spells as researchers in other countries, especially the US, developed?
- Secondly, we seek to investigate the relationship between internationality
and scientific prestige: Is Switzerland mainly importing scientific excel-
lence, and are foreign professors per se scientifically more renowned
than their Swiss colleagues? Is it, rather, about cosmopolitan capital as a
symbolic resource? Do professors with an experience abroad have a
higher scientific prestige? Or is scientific reputation built on learning and
mastering the scientific culture of the globally dominant US field?
The first set of research question will be addressed in the descriptive results
section (Section 4) focusing on the historical internationalisation of the professors
of economics and business’ profiles. We then turn to the second set of ques-
tions in Section 5 emphasising international resources and scientific reputation.
3. Data and Analytical Strategy
Our data stem from a historical database on Swiss elites. They were collected
as part of the project “Academic Elites in Switzerland 1910-2000: between
Autonomy and Power.”7 We took into account all ordinary (full) and extraordi-
nary (associate) professors of economics and business studies of all ten canton-
al universities and the two Federal Institutes of Technology in three benchmark
years: 1957, 1980, and 2000.8 The sample was collected on the basis of the
7 This project (N° 100017_143202) was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and
was directed by Felix Bühlmann, André Mach, and Thomas David.
8 These three benchmarks dates were initially used for research projects on Swiss economic,
political, and administrative elites and were chosen because for these years, data were widely
HSR 43 (2018) 3 │ 196
Swiss university directories (Annuaires des universités suisses), which contains
the complete list of the Swiss academic personnel. Table 1 gives an overview
of the sample:
Table 1: Economic Sciences Professors at Swiss Universities (1957-2000)9
1957 1980 2000 Total
Total professors of economic
sciences 65 161 261 411
Professors of economics 38 86 118 193
Professors of business studies 27 75 143 218
Descriptive and Independent Variables
We investigate the growing importance of foreigners by using the indicator of
the nationality at birth of the professors (Swiss vs. Non-Swiss). This variable
allows us to test the effect of the potential importation of excellence. Secondly,
we focus on the internationalisation of the careers of the Swiss professors. To
do so, we add a second independent variable accounting for the stays abroad
during the career that allows us to picture international resources with more
precision. We distinguish between Swiss citizens with at least a one-year stay
abroad during their early professional career (between the age of 21 and 50)10
and Swiss citizens without an international stay.11 In the descriptive part, we
use a variant of this indicator, measuring the mean time (in years) spent in
different countries between the age of 21 and 50. Finally, we investigate the
importance of the USA as a place of stay: we use the place of the doctorate and
the share of the professors with a stay of at least one year in the US between 21
and 50. Thus, we distinguish between Swiss citizens without experience
abroad, Swiss citizens with experience abroad (except the US), Swiss citizens
with experience in the US, Non-Swiss professors without experience in the US,
and Non-Swiss with experience in the US.
available. For this project on Swiss academic elites, the years were kept, in order to be able to
compare the academic elites to economic, political, and administrative elites. These three dates
allow a comparison between three cohorts, separated from each other by roughly 20 years.
9 Note that if we sum up the three benchmarks, this amounts to 487 professors. This is be-
cause some professors are present at two dates. The same individual is only counted once.
10 We limited our analysis to the period between 21 and 50 years, since the youngest professor
of the 2000 cohort was 50 in 2015 when we collected the data.
11 Stays of less than one year have not been taken into account.
HSR 43 (2018) 3 │ 197
The dependent variable in this study is scientific capital, measured by the num-
ber of citations of the ten most cited publications in the citation index of the
Web of Science database for each professor. The Web of Science citation index
is currently run by Clarivate Analytics (formerly Thomson Reuters) and com-
piles the citations of around 12,000 scientific journals considered as the most
‘important’ for each discipline. This base consists of a selection of ‘prestigious’
journals and is therefore a good measure of excellence, prestige, and recogni-
tion among peers. Two characteristics of the Web of Science index must be
emphasised: First, it focuses mainly on scientific journals that enjoyed high
prestige in the most recent past. One could argue that, therefore, there is a
historical bias in the selection of journals. However, certain selected reviews
were prestigious journals even at the beginning of the 20th century, such as the
American Economic Review (1911), Econometrica (1933), The Quarterly
Journal of Economics (1886), or the Journal of Political Economy (1892). The
indicator covers the period from 1900 to this day. Secondly, the Web of Sci-
ence is centred on the Anglo-American space and mostly covers English-
speaking scientific journals. Therefore, one could argue that it tends to neglect
the influence of other linguistic areas. Nonetheless, some journals from other
languages, endowed with a high scientific prestige, are selected: Kyklos (1947)
or the Jahrbücher für Nationalökonomie und Statistik (1863) in German, or the
Revue d’économie politique (1887) in French are examples. Therefore, to some
extent, this index is useful, even if its focus is on English-speaking journals.12 It
is particularly relevant for Switzerland, which has one of the most internation-
alized academic fields (Busino, Hofer and Miévielle 1991; Goastellec and
Pekari 2013). In addition, Swiss economics and management studies have only
a few important journals on the basis of which scholars could build up local
scientific capital. Therefore, citations in international journals are important in
Swiss academia, and the Web of Science can be considered as a relevant indi-
cator for scientific capital in Swiss economic sciences.
We control for the following variables: sex, discipline (economics or business),
linguistic region (professors who teach in the German-speaking part of Swit-
zerland vs. in the French and Italian speaking-part) and historical period related
to the function at one of the three benchmarks mentioned above (1957, 1980,
12 See the list of journals of the Social Science Citation Index here: <http://mjl.clarivate.com/
publist_ssci.pdf> (Accessed November 11, 2017).
HSR 43 (2018) 3 │ 198
Since our dependent variable (scientific capital measured by the number of
citations) is of count nature (meaning that we count for each professor the
number of citations), we use the ‘sub-family’ of count regressions. Count re-
gressions are part of generalized linear models (GLM) (Long 1997; Long and
Freese 2006; Fox 2008; Zeileis, Kleiber and Jackman 2008). The most widely
used count model is the Poisson count regression, which is able to deal with
dependent variables following a Poisson distribution. However this type of
regression sometimes underestimates the variance in the data (Long 1997, 230;
Zeileis, Kleiber and Jackman 2008, 4-5; Fox 2008, 392). This is a problem
when the data are over-dispersed. When looking at our dependent variable
[Figure 1], we see that it clearly shows a case of over-dispersion (mean =
136.05; variance = 359,841.30; sd = 599.87): the variance is more than 2,600
times higher than the mean. This is explained by the fact that many professors
are never or hardly ever cited. However, a small group of professors have an
extremely high number of citations (maximum = 8,978 citations amongst the
10 most cited articles). Negative binomial models are particularly fitted to
assume negative binomial distribution and, thus, to model over-dispersed data
(Zeileis, Kleiber and Jackman 2008, 5). In order to perform this type of regres-
sion, we use the MASS package in R (Venables and Ripley 2002). In this type
of regression, the coefficients can be interpreted as follows: for a one unit in-
crement in the independent variable, the difference in the logs of expected
counts of the dependent variable is expected to increase by the respective re-
gression coefficient, holding all other variables constant.13 To be more easily
readable, the coefficients of a negative binomial regression can be converted
into incidence risk ratios (IRR), which are similar to odds ratios for logistic
regressions. IRR simply correspond to the exponent of the corresponding coef-
ficient. IRR can be interpreted as follows: for a one unit increment in the inde-
pendent variable, the dependent variable is expected to increase by the respec-
tive incidence rate ratio, holding all other variables constant (Hilbe 2007). This
type of regression also allows us to retain the maximum amount of information
on the dependent variable. In order to test for diverse effects on a numeric
dependent variable, researchers usually use either linear regression models, by
trying to establish a linear relation between the dependent variable and other
numeric independent variables (often transforming the dependent variable by
means of squared numbers, square roots, logarithms, or exponentials to ‘force’
the relation to be linear), or by logistic regression models, by dichotomizing the
13 See: ‘Negative Binomial Regression | Stata Annotated Output’, UCLA: Statistical Consulting
Group. Online link: <https://stats.idre.ucla.edu/stata/output/negative-binomial-regression/>
(Accessed August 29, 2017).
HSR 43 (2018) 3 │ 199
dependent variable in two modalities (1 or 0/yes or no). The loss of information
related to these transformations can be avoided with count regression models.
Figure 1: Dispersion of the Number of Citations in the Web of Science Citation
4. Internationalisation of the Profile of the Professors of
In this first descriptive part, we focus on the modalities of internationalisation
of the economic sciences in Switzerland. We investigate the share of interna-
tional professors, the internationality of the Swiss professors’ careers, and the
share of professors who have stayed in the US. In order to render visible
disciplinary cultures, we distinguish systematically between economics and
4.1 Internationalisation and Diversification of the National Origins
of the Professors
Economics and business studies have experienced an increasing internationali-
sation during the second half of the 20th century. One of the principal forms of
HSR 43 (2018) 3 │ 200
internationalisation is the exchange of academic personal and the circulation of
scholars (Gingras 2002, 31; Dubois, Gingras and Rosental 2016). In this way,
scientific paradigms, theories and methodologies circulate between countries.
In the international scientific landscape, Switzerland has long been considered
to be one of the most internationalised countries in Europe. This can be related
to the small size of the country as well as to the proximity to large and weighty
neighbours. Already, in 1915, for example, 27% of all university professors
and 26% of all post-doctoral university teachers (Privatdozenten) had no Swiss
passport (Busino, Hofer and Miéville 1991). More recently, findings show that
Switzerland was the most international country of Western Europe in the period
2007-2010, as 50% of professors and postdoctoral researchers engaged at Swiss
Universities were not of Swiss nationality (Goastellec and Pekari 2013, 231).
Figure 2: Proportions of Professors of Economic Sciences, by Nationality (in %)
Source: Swiss Elite Database. N: 65 in 1957, 161 in 1980, and 261 in 2000.
In 1957, 23% of the professors are non-Swiss, in 1980, the figure rises to 28%
and in 2000, the percentage tops 51%. It is, therefore, especially during the
very recent period that economic sciences become more international. General-
ly, economics and business are among the most internationalised disciplines in
Switzerland.14 Figure 2 shows the detail of this internationalisation by indicat-
ing the geographical origin of professors.
14 Data from the ‘Swiss Elites Database’ allow us to compare the share of non-Swiss professors
to other disciplines: Law: 8% of foreign professors in 1957; 16% in 1980; 21% in 2000.
Medicine: 10% in 1957; 15% in 1980; 35% in 2000. Technical and engineering sciences:
10% in 1957; 18% in 1980; 40% in 2000. Social sciences: 21% in 1957; 37% in 1980; 32%
in 2000. Mathematics, experimental and natural sciences: 20% in 1957; 25% in 1980; 41%
in 2000. Humanities: 25% in 1957; 34% in 1980; 45% in 2000. On average, the share of
non-Swiss professors is: 18% in 1957; 24% in 1980; 39% in 2000. Therefore, except for social
1957 1980 2000
HSR 43 (2018) 3 │ 201
Citizens from German-speaking countries (mostly Germany and Austria) are
the biggest group. Their share stays relatively stable between 1957 and 1980.
From 1980 to 2000, it rises from 16% to 23%. The French-speaking countries
(France, French-speaking Belgium, and French-speaking Canada) experience a
similar rise (from 6% to 13%). Generally, internationality increases from 1957
to 2000, but it remains geographically and linguistically ‘close.’ Most interna-
tional professors are from neighbouring countries, in which people speak the
same languages as in Switzerland. Germany’s influence remains especially
important; this can be explained by the fact that Germany and the German
speaking-part of Switzerland are institutionally closer to each other than France
and the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Both Germany and the German-
speaking part of Switzerland require candidates to possess a Habilitation to
apply for a professorship position. Already, in the 19th century, the structural
weakness of the Swiss academic institutions led to a massive influx of profes-
sors from Germany (Busino, Hofer and Miévielle 1991), which at that time was
the globally dominant scientific field (Karady 1998, 95-7; 2002, 49-51), in
particular in economics and business studies (Fourcade-Gourinchas 2001,
2002; Brockhoff 2012).
Figure 3: Proportions of Non-Swiss Professors in Economics and Business
Studies (in %)
Source: Swiss Elite Database. N: 65 in 1957, 161 in 1980, and 261 in 2000.
We also observe a linear increase (2% in 1957, 6% in 1980, and 12% in 2000)
of the number of professors coming from other European countries. Finally, we
sciences in 1980 and humanities in 1957 and 1980, economic sciences are the most interna-
tionalised group of scientific disciplines in Switzerland. Furthermore, economic sciences
have undergone a particularly strong internationalization in the recent period (Rossier,
Beetschen, Mach and Bühlmann 2015; Rossier, Bühlmann and Mach 2017).
1957 1980 2000
HSR 43 (2018) 3 │ 202
can notice a very modest growth of professors coming from extra-European
countries (from 1% to 3%). In this category, only five professors in 2000 have
the American citizenship. The US, as the most dominant national field in eco-
nomic sciences, exports few professors to Switzerland. Very likely, US profes-
sors of economic sciences prefer to stay in their own national field, which both
enjoys the highest scientific legitimacy and offers very advantageous condi-
tions to the best scholars. It is now interesting to differentiate between econom-
ics and business studies [Figure 3].
We see that in both disciplines the share of foreign professors increases.
However, in 1957, business studies are much less internationalised than eco-
nomics. This might be explained by the discipline’s links to local firms and the
teaching duties of its professors, which include techniques that cater for the
local commercial, insurance, or industrial sector. However, the ‘scientification’
of management and marketing studies since the 1980s does, increasingly, cre-
ate an international market for business studies. Possibilities are opened for re-
searchers coming from abroad to become professors at Swiss universities (Bur-
ren 2007). Economics has been international since the 19th century (Jost 1997;
Rossier 2017). Therefore, the slope of increase of foreigners is flatter in this
discipline. In 2000, with business studies catching up rapidly (Fourcade and
Khurana 2013), both disciplines have about the same share of international
4.2 The Internationalisation of Swiss Professors’ Careers
In order to investigate internationality in more detail, we must also examine
how the internationality of professors with Swiss citizenship develops. An
examination of these professors’ careers shows that while in 1957, only 20% of
the Swiss professors experience training or a professional stay outside of Swit-
zerland between the age of 21 and 50, this share increases to 44% in 1980 and
to 56% in 2000.15 The scientific culture of Swiss professors of economics and
business gets more international. Figure 4 shows the average length of stays of
professors in several countries.
15 Between 1957 and 2000, both disciplines increase at the same rate, but Swiss professors of
economics stay more international than do professors of business: in 1957, 30% of the
Swiss professors of economics have spent at least one year abroad between the age of the
21 and 50, 57% in 1980, and 71% in 2000 as compared to Swiss professors of business, with
9% in 1957, 32% in 1980, and 44% in 2000.
HSR 43 (2018) 3 │ 203
Figure 4: Average Length of Stays (in Years) between the Age of 21 and 50
Years in Geographical Zones Abroad – Only Professors with Swiss
Source: Swiss Elite Database. N: 50 in 1957, 115 in 1980 and 127 in 2000. Mean times spent in
Switzerland are the following: 29.04 in 1957, 27.97 in 1980 and 27.46 in 2000.
Swiss professors of economic sciences only stay about one year abroad in
1957, two in 1980, and two and a half in 2000. The increase of duration is
particularly important for US visits. The average duration of stays in the US
increases from around 0.2 year in 1957 to 1 year in 1980 and to 1.2 years in
2000. Swiss professors are increasingly oriented towards the US, the most
prestigious academic field in the discipline. The academic reputation they
acquire during stays at US universities can then be converted into academic or
scientific resources in the Swiss academic space. This is the first hint at the
importance of US academia in economic sciences. We now investigate in more
detail the importance of the American field, by examining the place of doctorate
acquisition and by examining stays in the US more generally.
4.3 The Growing Importance of the US
For all professors, a doctorate acquired abroad, especially if it has been ob-
tained in a dominant national space, is one of the most easily convertible re-
sources. A PhD from a foreign university confers the status of a privileged
intellectual, which is equivalent to a symbolic “knighting” (Karady 1998, 102).
Therefore, not only foreign professors import the value of their educational
credentials acquired in their home-country. Also Swiss professors come back
with this type of symbolic resource and the savoir-faire attached to it. In 1957,
27% of all professors of economic sciences obtained a PhD from a university
outside Switzerland; this percentage dropped to 25% in 1980 and rose to 46%
1957 1980 2000
HSR 43 (2018) 3 │ 204
in 2000.16 Internationality is particularly important for the professors of the
most recent cohort: the figures almost double between 1980 and 2000 [Figure 5].
Figure 5: Share of Professors of Economic Sciences Who Obtained Their PhD
Outside of Switzerland (in %)
Source: Swiss Elite Database. N of the professors who obtained a PhD: 62 in 1957, 158 in 1980,
and 255 in 2000.
The German-speaking space produces the highest share of diplomas among
professors of economic sciences in Switzerland. It experiences a slight (and
statistically hardly significant) decline between 1957 and 1980 (from 16% to
10%), but the percentage then increases to 20%. The share of PhD degrees in
francophone countries remains more or less stable during the period (between
10% and 6%). The relative importance of German-speaking countries is due to
the long-lasting German influence on the Swiss economic sciences since the
19th century (Jost 1997, 90). The recent rise of German-speaking PhDs can be
explained by the concomitant rise of the number of professors from this area
that hold Swiss chairs of economics and business.
Compared to this ‘close’ internationality, other European countries and
overseas areas are hardly represented. Merely 5% of the professors earned a
degree in another European country in 2000.17 However, the country with the
steepest growth is the US (0% in 1957, 6% in 1980, and 13% in 2000). This
confirms our precedent findings and shows the increasing importance of stays
16 Again, economics is more international than business studies during the period: in 1957,
35% of the professors of economics obtained a PhD abroad; this rate fell to 33% in 1980
and rose to 50% in 2000, compared to the professors of business with 16% in 1957, 15% in
1980, and 43% in 2000.
17 80% of these are obtained in the UK, another large and dominant European scientific space.
1957 1980 2000
HSR 43 (2018) 3 │ 205
in the US for economists in the Swiss field of economic sciences as well as the
import of the ‘American’ way of doing science.18
Figure 6: Share of Professors of Economic Sciences with a Stay in the US
between the Age of 21 and 50, by Nationality and Discipline (in %)
Source: Swiss Elite Database. N: 65 in 1957, 161 in 1980, and 261 in 2000.
As Figure 6 shows, stays in the American scientific field grow in importance
during the second part of the 20th century. While in 1957, foreign professors
are more internationalised than their Swiss colleagues, this difference disap-
pears in 1980 and 2000. This conversion is, at least in parts, the result of the
introduction of a system of scientific grants for research stays abroad (1-2
years) by the Swiss National Science Foundation. We also see that professors
of economics more frequently visit the US than do professors of business.
Overall, the descriptions of national origin, stays abroad, and places of PhD
show that the profiles of professors of economics and business studies in Swit-
zerland have become increasingly international. Scientists from neighbouring
countries, particularly Germany and France, come to teach as professors at
Swiss universities. But Swiss professors themselves also become more interna-
tional and spend time abroad, in the US, in particular. Overall, increasing
18 Recent research on the place of the doctorate of professors at Swiss universities shows that
the economic sciences are more internationalised than most of the other social science and
humanities disciplines (Rossier, Bühlmann and Mach 2017, 313-314). Law: 12% of the pro-
fessors obtained their doctorate abroad in 1957; 16% in 1980; 14% in 2000. Social sciences:
28% in 1957; 31% in 1980; 32% in 2000. Humanities: 30% in 1957; 30% in 1980; 45% in
2000. Furthermore, professors of economic sciences are clearly more tuned towards the US.
Law: 1% of the professors obtained their doctorate in the US in 1957; 0% in 1980; 0% in
2000. Social sciences: 5% in 1957; 6% in 1980; 4% in 2000. Humanities: 0% in 1957; 3% in
1980; 6% in 2000.
1957 1980 2000
Stay in the US -
Stay in the US -
Stay in the US -
Stay in the US -
Stay in the US -
HSR 43 (2018) 3 │ 206
shares of economics and business professors have obtained a doctorate in the
US and cultivate close links to this dominant scientific field. Considering those
results, we must now test the influence of these diverse types of international
resources on their scientific reputation.
5. The Relations between International Resources and
5.1 The Distribution of Scientific Capital according to the
In this second part, we investigate how the internationality of professors relates
to their scientific prestige. For this purpose, we perform three negative binomial
regressions. In Table 2, we give a descriptive overview of the average number
of citations according to the used categories.
First, women tend to retain more scientific capital than do men. This is be-
cause women appear in those positions only in the recent cohorts, who general-
ly have higher numbers of citations than do the previous cohorts.19 We can
make the hypothesis that the younger cohorts of professors are more cited
because Switzerland has recently opened more widely to international scientific
journals and networks. The scientific production is now denser than before and
is more oriented towards journal articles and less to books, which are not taken
into account in the Web of Science. Furthermore, professors of economics are,
on average, more frequently cited in the Web of Science than their colleagues
in business studies. Finally, professors at French or Italian-speaking universi-
ties have lower numbers of citations than do professors at the German-speaking
universities in Zürich, Basel, Bern, and St. Gallen as well as the Zürich Insti-
tute of Technology. Secondly, we see that Swiss professors have many fewer
citations than do the foreign professors who have moved to Switzerland. But
differences within the group of Swiss professors are quite strong: those who
have stayed abroad during their career are distinctively more cited than those
who always stayed in Switzerland. Thirdly, a stay in the American field seems
to multiply the amount of citations of Swiss professors. Quite the contrary
seems to be the case for foreign professors: those that stayed in the US seem to
19 It could also be that women who evolve in a particularly masculine environment, such as
economics and business studies disciplines, must be extremely scientifically productive to
become and work as professors. However, the projection of gender as an illustrative variable
in a multiple correspondence analysis on this space of professors with different scientific
and extra-academic capital forms as active variables shows no significant difference be-
tween men and women (Rossier 2017, 246-9). This point, as well as the modalities of the
feminization of the disciplines, must be investigated more in detail.
HSR 43 (2018) 3 │ 207
be a bit less endowed with scientific capital than those who have never been to
the US. All these effects, of course, need to be tested by controlling for the
effects of all the other factors with regression models.
Table 2: The Average Amount of Citations in the Web of Science Database,
according to the Characteristics of the Professors
Professor is… Number of citations N
Swiss 65.14 242
Non-Swiss 237.59 169
Swiss without stay abroad 17.62 139
Swiss with stay abroad (in general) 129.27 103
Swiss with stay abroad (except US) 46.14 42
Swiss with stay in the US 186.51 61
Non-Swiss without stay in the US 261.69 108
Non-Swiss with stay in the US 194.92 61
Woman 150.22 18
Man 135.40 393
1957 7.02 65
1980 49.33 161
2000 208.55 261
Business 92.14 218
Economics 185.65 193
French (and Italian)-speaking part of Switzerland 104.02 182
German-speaking part of Switzerland 161.50 229
Total 136.05 411
5.2 The Relationship between Internationality and Scientific
What is the relationship between internationality and scientific reputation?
High levels of citation are an indicator of recognition within the fields of eco-
nomics and business studies and are therefore a very distinctive resource. In
order to investigate the effects of internationality on scientific capital, we run
three negative binomial regression models. These regressions allow us to test
the three points of inquiry formulated earlier: the first regression tests the in-
fluence of being a Swiss professor (reference category) vs. a foreign professor
on scientific capital. It tells us whether Swiss universities have imported excel-
lence, i.e., professors who enjoy a much higher scientific prestige than their
local or Swiss colleagues. In a second regression, we differentiate among the
professors with Swiss nationality. It tells us whether Swiss professors who have
HSR 43 (2018) 3 │ 208
had a longer stay abroad and who are thus endowed with symbolic cosmopoli-
tan capital have more scientific prestige than the professors without a profes-
sional stay abroad (reference category) ‒ and we examine how these two cate-
gories of Swiss professors compare to international professors. In a third
regression, we explore the significance of connections to the US as the domi-
nant scientific field in the economic sciences. It tells us about the importance of
stays in the US between the age of 21 and 50 for different categories of profes-
sors: Swiss professors without a stay in the US (reference category), Swiss
professors with a stay abroad but not in the US, Swiss professors with a stay in
the US, foreign professors without a stay in the US, and foreign professors with
a stay in the US.
The first hypothesis posits that excellence is imported to Switzerland by hir-
ing foreign professors, whose scientific prestige is generally higher than their
Swiss colleagues’. The first model seems to confirm this assumption. Non-
Swiss professors have a significantly higher amount of citations in the Web of
Science. However, when we compare foreign professors with Swiss colleagues
who have stayed abroad for an extended period (Model 2), these differences
disappear. Model 2 also shows the importance of symbolic cosmopolitan capital.
Those Swiss professors who have stayed abroad clearly have more scientific
prestige than their compatriots who never were abroad. The most important
model, however, is Model 3 (as suggested by measures of fit)20: it shows that it
is not some general and symbolic cosmopolitan capital that matters. Instead,
scientific prestige is explained by connections to the US scientific culture,
acquired, for instance, through research stays in the US. The distinction be-
tween Swiss professors with a stay abroad but not in the US and those who
were in the US is telling. While solely ‘general cosmopolitan’ capital ‒ a stay
abroad, but not in the US ‒ has little effect on the scientific prestige
(IRR = 2.89), this effect is enormous for those who were in the US
(IRR = 29.9). The comparison even shows that Swiss professors who have been
in the US have a much higher scientific prestige than their foreign colleagues
with the same type of stay in the US.
20 There exist no standardized measures of fit for count regressions, such as R2 and Pseudo R2
for linear and logistic regressions. However, there exist several unstandardized indicators:
for the Akaike information criterion (AIC), the Bayesian information criterion (BIC) and the
deviance criterion, the lower value indicates the ‘best’ model. For the log likelihood ratio,
the highest value is the best.
HSR 43 (2018) 3 │ 209
Table 3: Negative Binomial Regression: Number of Citations in the Web of
Coeff. IRR Coeff. IRR Coeff. IRR
Intercept 0.58 1.79 -1.72 0.18 -0.14 0.87
Non-Swiss 0.94*** 2.56 2.45*** 11.57 -
Swiss Ref. - -
Swiss with stay abroad - 2.65*** 14.11 -
Swiss without stay abroad - Ref. Ref.
Swiss with stay abroad
(except in the US) - - 1.06*2.89
Swiss with stay in the US - - 3.40*** 29.90
Non-Swiss without stay in
the US - - 2.39*** 10.95
Non-Swiss with stay in the
US - - 2.54*** 12.73
AIC 3160.91 3124.79 3121.44
BIC 3197.07 3164.97 3169.66
Log Likelihood -1571.45 -1552.39 -1548.72
Deviance 401.18 399.53 399.41
Number of Observations 411 411 411
*** p < 0.001, ** p < 0.01, * p < 0.05.
Control variables include: sex, cohort (1957, 1980, and 2000), discipline (economics and busi-
ness), and linguistic region.
Summing up these findings, we can say that all types of internationality have a
certain effect on the scientific prestige of professors of economics and business.
When compared to all professors with Swiss nationality, foreign professors
enjoy generally a higher scientific prestige. The competitive salaries and good
working conditions as well as the cultural closeness to neighbouring countries
such as France and Germany do allow Swiss universities to import excellence
from abroad. We also see that an experience abroad enhances professors’ scien-
tific prestige ‒ this is shown by a comparison of Swiss professors who have
experience abroad with those who have not. Having worked abroad probably
facilitates the exchange with foreign colleagues, stimulates the development of
creative thinking, and allows professors to be more accurately informed about
new research topics or methodological standards. However, behind the rather
symbolic category of ‘stay abroad’ there lurks the strong influence of exchange
with American science culture. Not going abroad, as such, has an impact on
scientific prestige. It is specifically about being in contact with the globally
dominant scientific field. Stays in the US are, perhaps, both: an indicator for
HSR 43 (2018) 3 │ 210
symbolic ‘American capital’ and an indicator for the appropriation of a certain
way of doing science. In the US, scholars learn to develop interests for specific
questions, using particular methods or data, and writing and publishing in spe-
cific journals. It can also be a place to obtain a particular form of social capital
with a high transferable value. All these aspects might contribute to the in-
crease of scientific capital of professors of economics and business studies.
In this study, we investigated the internationalisation of economics and business
studies in Switzerland and showed how it relates to the internal hierarchy of the
discipline in terms of scientific prestige. With a sample of N = 411 professors
of three cohorts (1957, 1980, and 2000), we first demonstrated that the eco-
nomic sciences in Switzerland have, in general, become more international in
the second half of the 20th century. The share of professors of foreign origin
(coming from increasingly diverse destinations) grew, the careers of Swiss
professors became more internationalised (in the form of relatively short stays),
and the importance of the US as a (doctoral or professional) destination rose
dramatically. While economics was still more internationalised in 1957, busi-
ness studies managed to ‘catch up’ on internationality in recent decades. In a
second step, we explained the relations between internationality and scientific
capital by three negative binomial regression models. We showed that Switzer-
land imports excellence among professors and that stays abroad are positively
linked with a higher scientific prestige. Most importantly, however, it is ex-
changes with the dominant US field of economic sciences that increases the
scientific prestige of professors in Switzerland.21
Of course, it can be said that the influence of intensive contact with US sci-
entific culture on a measure of scientific prestige, which itself is a product of
that US scientific culture, is somewhat of a circular argument. Indeed, the
21 In the recent decades, scholars in Switzerland have adopted American standards in economics
and business studies. For example, scholars write more in English than before: in 1957, not a
single economics and business professor had written his doctoral dissertation in English as
compared to 9% in 1980 and 26% in 2000 (2% of them having not obtained a PhD in an
English-speaking university in 1980 and 9% in 2000; Rossier 2017, 184-5). Furthermore,
professors use mathematics more frequently as a theoretical tool: in 1957, only 13% of the
professors had used mathematics in their doctoral dissertation, against 45% in 1980 and
73% in 2000 (Rossier 2017, 87). Also, in 1957, virtually no professor was using econo-
metrical tools and methods. Since the 1980s, the most (scientifically) dominant professors
of the space use econometric methods. The same trend was observed for subfields such as
experimental and behavioural economics (Rossier 2017, 253-8). Finally, in the very recent
period, corporate finance and financial economics are amongst the most prestigious topics
in Swiss universities (Rossier 2017, 98-9). Therefore, the whole American ‘package’ has cur-
rently been incorporated in Swiss economics and management university departments
HSR 43 (2018) 3 │ 211
science citation index of the Web of Science comprises citations in a predeter-
mined list of journals amongst the most prestigious in economics and business
studies, as well as other disciplines. These journals (such as the American Eco-
nomic Review, the Journal of Economic Literature, Econometrica, the Journal
of Finance, the Journal of Financial Economics, the Journal of Management,
and the Academy of Management Journal, among the most prestigious) are
English-language journals and are published in the US or the UK. On the other
hand, one could argue that this apparently circular conclusion is particularly
full of insights on how internationality works in science. Our analyses show
that internationality has no value as such. What is important is not the differ-
ence between the local, national, or international, but the international hierar-
chy of scientific fields (Heilbron 2001). In disciplines such as economics,
where this hierarchy is particularly clear and legitimate, we see that in smaller
and generally less prestigious national science cultures, links with dominant
players are important and function as ‘hierarchized cosmopolitan capital.’ This
insight also helps us to understand the efficiency of cosmopolitan capitals in
other scientific disciplines or even other fields; for instance, in the economic
field or in the field of art. We can assume that, also, in those disciplines and
fields, the efficiency of cosmopolitan capital is not about a kind of ‘generalised
internationality.’ Its conceptualization has to situate countries within an inter-
national hierarchy, which is not necessarily the same in every field. Interna-
tionality or experiences with the US might have a very different meaning in
humanities or in other social sciences in which the international hierarchy is
less clear and in which countries other than the US might be important as well.
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