Remarque très pertinente de Robin Hanson :
« Your boss doesn’t just want high quality subordinates; he wants his boss to think he has high quality subordinates. Actually he wants his boss to be happy about it, which requires his boss’ boss be happy about it, etc. We all want to affiliate with high status people, but since status is about common distant perceptions of quality, we often care more about what distant observers would think about our associates than about how we privately evaluate them« .
Appliqué au monde universitaire, cela donne ça :
« In academia, one often finds folks who are much more (or less) smart and insightful than their colleagues, where most who know them agree with this assessment. Since academia is primarily an institution for credentialling folks as intellectually impressive, so that others can affiliate with them, one might wonder how such mis-rankings can persist. But academics understand that folks primarily care about distant common signals of impressiveness, such as publications. Getting a lousy paper into a top journal usually counts for more than a fantastic paper in a low rank journal. Only in small tightly-connected academic communities can an informal perception that your low-journal paper was fantastic make it count for more than a crappy top-journal paper« .
Cet exemple particulier ne me convainc qu’à moitié car, pour qu’il soit valable, il faudrait supposer qu’il n’y a aucune corrélation entre qualité du papier et identité de la revue dans laquelle il est publié. Evidemment, tout dépend de ce que l’on entend par « bon » papier… Pour le reste, cette idée de « signalement en cascade » me parait intéressante, avec derrière une relation entre importance des signaux formels (mais vides en substance) et taille de la communauté.