Saturday, April 28, 2012

Bruno Frey: the story that keeps giving

A few weeks ago, I had a post entitled Bruno Frey, the epilogue, thinking that now that the University of Zurich made him a gigantic gift by manipulating the investigation into his behavior and keeping mum, Bruno Frey would have learned to finally shut up. But no, he has still not understood a thing a keeps going on, to the point that was getting daily updates in my email about the latest on him. Let me run a few highlights by you.

As was rumored for some time, the University of Zurich decided not to renew the two-year contract he was entitled to as an eminent retiree. There no official announcement, but it was reported by Olaf Storbeck, then by the Tages Anzeiger, a local newspaper. In the latter, Frey's wife, Margit Osterloh, defends his behavior and confirms that "he will continue working in Warwick", so he has indeed been told to leave the University of Zurich.

This firing then explains the bizarre behavior of Bruno Frey in the preceding days. Indeed, he appeared unusually incoherent in a television show, then wrote an outrageous piece in the same Tages Anzeiger newspaper calling for the defunding of his department (which actually got a major gift that was probably waiting for his departure). His reasoning is that the professors try too hard to publish their research, neglecting working with the media. He also mentions his research is essentially the only relevant one. Never mind that his employer tried very hard to protect him, gave a special status to his students who were exempt from exams, and now that was simply to possible to go on, the university did its best to let the situation quietly disappear to avoid embarrassing him. He answers with a slash-and-burn tactic.

That said, I also got a copy of the report commissioned by the University and looking into his self-plagiarism on the Titanic studies. As mentioned earlier, there is nothing about the many previous cases. View a pdf copy here.

So Bruno Frey will now continue his activities at the University of Warwick, which has a long tradition of hiring prominent retirees to boost its academic ranking. He joined in early 2011, that is right before the Titanic case came up, and early enough to qualify for the next research assessment exercise of the UK universities. But for the University of Warwick to keep any credibility, it ought now to take position on the Bruno Frey case, now that it is his sole employer.

Finally, as the story keep going on, I created a tag just for Bruno Frey.


  1. Thanks so much for all your work in righting the ethics in our profession. If the associations are asleep at the wheel and the universities do not dare to intervene, we need people like you to name and shame the black sheep.

  2. "...the ad-hoc commission recommends to reprimand Frey et al, although without any further action [...], EXPECTING THAT THIS EVENT REMAINS A ONE-OFF EVENT"

    WTF? What about all the other papers?

    Shame on you Chris Pissarides and company!

  3. Is self-plagiarism really this bad?

  4. Yes, especially when it comes from someone who is a serial offender, condemned it and claims moral high ground. He also repeatedly violated the submission conditions of journals, which state that the articles should be original research not published elsewhere.

  5. Still in the media:

  6. You may be aware that Margit Osterloh, Frey's wife, has now initiated a boycott of the Handelsblatt research ranking of business scholars, initiated by Olaf Storbeck...

  7. This is shocking. I can't believe that Warwick would keep him, even for the RAE. I am a Warwick alum and I think if word got out among other Warwick alums, they would take action. This is so egregious.


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