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November 6, 2006

Does US News spur or thwart innovation?

This weekend, this fascinating blog post at MoneyLaw reminded me of Dale Whitman's account, when he was AALS president, of some of the sneaky techniques and ugly consequences of undue concern with US News rankings.  In turn, I got to thinking about the relationship between US News rankings on law school innovation (which, arguably, is what MoneyLaw is all about).

My first-cut instinct is that great concern for rankings might spur innovations within schools that are ranked low: the dean and faculty at a school ranked low might conclude that the best way to try to change their fortunes would be though innovative programming that garners (positive) attention to improve the school's reputation (and thus its scores in the reputation criteria than make up 40% of the ranking metric).  As a corollary, highly-ranked schools might resist innovations for fear that anything new risks generating negative attention to move reputation scores in the wrong direction.

I am sure that the relationship between rankings and innovation is much more nuanced than this simple account may suggest.  Thus, I encourage readers (and other contributors to this blog) to chime in on this topic.

Posted by DAB

November 6, 2006 in Rankings | Permalink


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I imagine I will answer your question directly, both at MoneyLaw and here at LSI. In the meanwhile, I've posted a response to Jeff Harrison's item at http://money-law.blogspot.com/2006/11/academias-loneliest-hour-is-high-noon.html. How I'd answer your question is, I think, rather transparent. As I just said, though, I'll try to give a more direct answer in the coming days.

Posted by: Jim Chen | Nov 6, 2006 9:02:34 AM

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