Monday, 13 April 2015

New Directions for Law and Development Studies

I’m about to go to a conference at Tulane University in New Orleans on this topic. The conference website is here with a few papers freely available here

Well, actually, the paper of my own presentation based on fieldwork in China (with Ding Chen and Simon Deakin) is not yet there – so I can just offer the abstract – as well as the first two slides (see right hand side; click to enlarge)!

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Which political party would make Britain more like Germany?

I took three ‘vote-match’ sites for the 2015 UK general elections: (1), (2), (3). I answered the questions based on the current situation in Germany. In the majority of cases this was straight-forward: eg, for questions about tax rates, high-speed trains, being a member of the EU; questions not applicable for Germany (eg about Scottish independence) or where I didn’t know the German situation any more I left blank. PS: where the vote-match sites asked me to choose a place of residence, I chose Scotland (in order to capture the SNP).

The results:
UkIsidewith: 92% SNP, 88% Labour, LibDems, Greens, 53% Conservatives, 4% UKIP
WhoshouldIvotefor: +12 SNP and Labour,  +6 Greens, +4 LibDems, -7 Conservatives, -8 UKIP
Votematch: 71% Greens, 68% SNP and Labour, 61% LibDems, 34% Conservatives and UKiP

So, doing a poll of polls, it shows that if you want Britain to become more like Germany vote SNP – or if you’re not in Scotland, vote Labour or Greens.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Disappearing Paradigms in Shareholder Protection: Leximetric Evidence for 30 Countries, 1990-2013 (with Dionysia Katelouzou)

Another new paper available here (PS: it's related to the paper posted a week ago; however, the new paper is based on a more comprehensive evaluation of the extended shareholder protection dataset – see, eg, the figure above).  
Abstract: Scholars frequently claim that path dependency of the law, the influence of the US model of corporate governance, and the role of legal origin and the stage of legal development are key for a comparative understanding of shareholder protection. This article, however, suggests that these paradigms of comparative company law gradually seem to disappear. The basis for our assessment is an original leximetric dataset that measures the development of shareholder protection for 30 countries over the last 24 years. Using tools of descriptive statistics, time series and cluster analysis, our main findings are that all legal origins have now in average about the same level of shareholder protection, that paternalistic tools have overtaken enabling tools of protection, and that after the global financial crisis this area has become a less frequent object of law reforms.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

The Leximetrics of Shareholder Protection

Just made available on SSRN (here). Abstract:
The leximetric research on shareholder protection can contribute to core questions of comparative company law. For example, such research may be able to show whether or not there is a trend to increase shareholder power across countries. It can also provide us with tools to confirm or challenge whether there are deep differences between civil and common law countries in company law.
The main parts of this paper are based on leximetric datasets collected in a project on Law, Finance and Development at the University of Cambridge. It discusses the research of this project as well as related research not affiliated with this group. In addition, it will present new data that bring up-to-date some of the findings of the original project. 
This paper will be part of an edited book on Shareholder Power (ed by J Hill & R Thomas) – see the project's ECGI website here

Thursday, 5 March 2015

How do (and should) professors look like?

A few days ago I saw someone in the British Library and first I thought that he may have been a Scottish professor in economics who I know a bit - but then, overhearing him talking to someone else, I realised that he was a history professor from the US. Indeed, it seems that many professors look fairly similar, actually often like the professor in the PhD comics cartoons: male, beard, glasses, 'smart-academic' dress, not particularly athletic and not young any more.
  However, now we also have the Greek finance minister who is (or was) also a professor but is said to look more like an action hero. I’m also reading a book by the LSE prof Paul Dolan and found a review where he’s called bodybuilding professor.
  So, now, the (kitchen sink) data ... the picture above is from Google pictures, controlling for gender and country. Then, I checked the first six rows with 9 profile pictures each (ie 54 pics) and found the following:
  • 48% of them have glasses and 22% of them have beards.
  • 55% of them wear suit and tie, 35% business casual and 10% informal (of course they may dress differently in real university life).
  • None really seems to be particularly athletic; a few a bit overweight; the majority normal/thin.
  • PS: 96% are of European (or Caucasian) ethnicity; only 4% not (but there is certainly more proper research on this topic as well).
So, what does it tell us how we should look like? Presumably not a lot. Well, at least, I’d think that appearance shouldn’t really matter, but of course, paraphrasing Oscar Wilde, completely denying the relevance of appearance may also be somehow shallow.

Friday, 27 February 2015

A subject of the Queen?

As previously noted on this blog, I have been thinking about becoming British. But, well, there are a few reasons that may speak against it:
Anyway, all of this is just a prelude to announce that this week I have indeed become a British citizen (as well as a subject of the Queen ...).

Sunday, 15 February 2015

What kind of organisations are universities?

Stop treating universities as if they were a football game’ - that was the title of a newspaper article a few weeks ago criticizing that ‘universities are now virtually run by the various measures of their performance’.
  This analogy sounded somehow familiar. Oh well, I suggested it too when I blogged a year ago about eight different modes how academics perceive universities and their jobs. In the previous post, I was mainly interested in the micro level (ie individual academic researchers). Thus, now some thoughts about the organisational level, ie what is the best analogy for universities?
  • Football teams may indeed be a possible analogy if we think that the work at universities is mainly a ‘direct fight’ against other units, eg, for scarce grants or placements in prestigious journals. Alternatively, one could say that it is more akin to a sailing or rowing team competition, ie each unit tries to be as a good as possible without any direct contact with its competitors. However, a problem with all sports analogies is that universities operate permanently, not only for a particular competitive event.
  • So, perhaps comparisons with other highly competitive groups may work better, for example, military units or crime gangs? But that seems to go too far as universities have (usually, I suppose) no interest in destroying other units. Another analogy may be political parties; but here too we’d have a zero-sum game (ie you can only gain votes if your opponents loose) which is not how it works in universities since each unit may also indirectly benefit from good quality in other units.
  • Thus, private companies may be a better analogy: some other companies are your competitors but others are your suppliers or customers. Moreover, different companies may have different strategies, eg, there may be some niche companies similar to smaller universities. However, there also is a problem with this analogy, namely that research and higher education have a social dimension (or are even a public good).
  • So, a better analogy may be to say that universities are akin to hospitals. Or, as considered in my previous post, like an extended family or a shared house. But then there would be almost no competition with the other units which may be a bit unrealistic (and, perhaps, not ideal).
  • Thus, finally, the theatre ensemble analogy: each unit wants to perform well, but the main aim is not to ‘beat’ another ensemble (though there is some competition), but mainly to be as good as possible to the benefit of the ‘audience’ (students etc), also considering the public function of culture (research/education). That sounds about right.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

The ‘state of the art’ of legal scholarship? - Reflections on the rhetoric of the REF 2014 report

Many of us have read with great interest how the REF panel report summarised the ‘state of the art’ of legal scholarship in the UK (see pp 70-75 of the Panel C Report). It is the aim of this post to reflect on some of the rhetoric of this report (noting that sometimes the most important things are those left unsaid). So, here we go:
3. The sub-panel received outputs judged to be of world-leading quality from over 85 per cent of submissions and the overwhelming majority of work submitted was of at least internationally recognised quality providing valuable knowledge to the field, confirming that excellent research and scholarship are being conducted in very many law schools across the UK
Ok, great to hear, but, of course, most of the panel members were UK law professors too …
4. The sub-panel firmly shares the view of its predecessors that peer review remains the most reliable method of assessing research quality in law.
Meaning that panel thinks that they did an excellent job, ie trust our judgement!
[id] We found instances of world-leading or internationally excellent quality regardless of the form of the output.
That’s a very diplomatic statement. Yes, it may be fair to say that there were ‘instances’ of world-leading research in books, book chapters, journal articles etc. But the crucial - and unanswered - issue is whether in average one of these output types did not receive higher scores.
6. There was a large volume of outputs covering several core areas of law, including public international law, criminal law, criminal justice and criminology, legal theory (broadly defined and covering a wide range of approaches), public law and human rights, commercial law and EU law. From its assessment of the sub-fields included in submissions, the sub-panel considers that law and religion, intellectual property and IT law, transitional justice, gender, sexuality and the law, and law and finance all appear to be developing fields of interest…. We found numerous examples of world-leading quality across the range of outputs submitted.
Again, a very diplomatic statement. Here too, the panel could have done some number-crunching in order to see whether publications in some areas of law did better than others. PS: interesting how they identify the ‘core’ (eg, international and EU law included but not intellectual property).
8. The sub-panel regards it as an indicator of the strength of the discipline that world-leading work was demonstrated across the wide variety of methodologies employed in legal research and scholarship including doctrinal, theoretical, contextual, historical, socio-legal, critical and empirical approaches. Bodies of knowledge and thought were drawn upon from across the social sciences and the humanities. ….9. The sub-panel views this trend towards methodological diversity and interdisciplinarity as evidence of the growing sophistication of legal scholarship as a body of knowledge and understanding with wide-ranging insights, impacts and implications for the social world…
Ok, methodological diversity is great but is not something missing? Legal scholarship can be thought to operate in a triangle of social sciences, humanities and legal practice. The report highlights the first two elements but it does not seem to regard practical legal scholarship as being of high REF quality.
13. The impact of research was usually demonstrated by how it had informed the development of policy and new legislation and influenced the work of national, EU and international policy makers, judges and legislators… There was less consideration of the importance of research in improving NGO campaigning and input to policy or service provision, and less mention of the impact on end service users.
This issue can be related to the previous comment, ie research which provides practical help may not be rated highly as an output. In addition, it may show that legal scholars like to think in ‘macro categories’ (legislation, case law, law enforcement etc); thus, this can be read as an encouragement to collaborate with disciplines such as psychology and anthropology in order to understand individual behaviour.
22. A number of units set out structures involving the organisation of research into groups, centres or clusters and provided convincing examples of how these have stimulated and fostered vibrant research cultures. However, in some cases it was not always clear how these were providing meaningful support for research and structures sometimes appeared rather over-elaborate and confusing…..
That’s an interesting statement given that the proliferation of those clusters may often be driven by universities’ desire to show to the REF that they promote excellence in a particular area (and not ‘just’ across the board). But it seems that this may sometimes be counter-productive.
[id] The sub-panel saw impressive examples of research environments regardless of the size of the unit, the organisation of its work or its strategic focus and is convinced that there is no one strategic model for a larger or smaller unit which will necessarily deliver research success.
So, this statement seems to challenge the ‘size matters’ trend, eg the biggish Doctoral Training Centres.
26… The trend, noted above, to a more blended, multi- and interdisciplinary approach in research production in some aspects of law was reflected in the description of a number of multi-departmental and multi-institution networks and groupings providing both critical mass and the pooling of infrastructural resources for the production of programmes of research.
That’s an interesting qualification of the previous statements - ie in this respect clusters are indeed useful and size may matter, also saying that form and substance need to go hand in hand.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Law Journal Ranking (based on REF 2014)

Ranking of 40 law journals based on REF data (further explanations below):
1. Current Legal Problems (3.001928)
2. Law Quarterly Review (3.0)
3. Lloyd’s Maritime & Commercial Law Quarterly (2.965556)
4. Oxford Journal of Legal Studies (2.96061)
5. Modern Law Review (2.950283)
6. Cambridge Law Journal (2.948772)
7. International Journal of Constitutional Law (2.945333)
8. Yearbook of European Law (2.9435)
9. Journal of Corporate Law Studies (2.940556)
10. Common Market Law Review (2.934118)
11. Journal of Legal History (2.922667)
12. Medical Law Review (2.922444)
13. International Journal of Law in Context (2.914815)
14. Social and Legal Studies (2.914138)
15. Journal of Private International Law (2.9135)
16. Public Law (2.898929)
17. International and Comparative Law Quarterly (2.898)
18. Journal of International Economic Law (2.89722)
19. European Journal of International Law (2.895862)
20. Intellectual Property Quarterly (2.888421)
21. Human Rights Law Review (2.888065)
22. Child and Family Law Quarterly (2.88619)
23. King’s Law Journal (2.88375)
24. Journal of Law and Society (2.876528)
25. Industrial Law Journal (2.869615)
26. Legal Studies (2.862065)
27. European Law Review (2.861277)
28. Criminology and Criminal Justice (2.853333)
28. Journal of Environmental Law (2.853333)
30. British Journal of Criminology (2.838689)
31. Edinburgh Law Review (2.793125)
32. Leiden Journal of International Law (2.787333)
33. Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law (2.77619)
34. Criminal Law Review (2.764634)
35. Journal of Business Law (2.76375)
36. European Law Journal (2.760938)
37. International Journal of Human Rights (2.711765)
38. Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly (2.71)
39. Howard Journal of Criminal Justice (2.606667)
40. Journal of Criminal Law (2.259231)
Explanations:
  • I used the REF data for the output GPAs and the journal submissions per law school. I included the 66 law schools that took part in the REF 2014 and where output data are available (in addition, London Met took part but the output data show ‘-‘).
  • I considered the 40 journals most frequently submitted to Law’s REF 2014 (see here); for other journals the data would be too unreliable, ie those journals may be higher or lower ranked than the 40 (we just don’t know).
  • I used the following approach (a bit different from what I did previously for the RAE 2008, see here): for each journal (i) I counted how often each law school submitted articles from this journal, (ii) then I multiplied this number with the REF output GPA of this law school (as a proxy for the assessment of these articles given that we don’t know the precise rating of individual outputs), (iii) then I added the scores together and divided them by the total number of articles submitted from this journal à thus, the numbers in brackets indicate the estimated REF evaluation of articles from the respective journals.
  • PS: see here for a corresponding ranking of politics journals.