This study examines the use of formal rankings of journals for personnel decision purposes by agricultural economics departments with agribusiness programs. It was hypothesized that the probability of using a list of formal rankings is related to a set of characteristics of the department. This suggests lists may reduce the level of uncertainty regarding the assessment of research quality by providing explicit targets in the department but may also induce faculty members to develop institution-specific human capital, thereby reducing faculty mobility and impeding career development. Whether lists are used, how they are compiled, and the extent to which they are relied upon when making personnel decisions should be viewed in the context of developments and trends in higher education; e.g., the presence of multi-disciplinary departments and the use of clinical and other non-tenure track faculty. Further, the difficulty of revising lists once they have been agreed upon should also be considered, especially when journal quality declines or where changes in personnel evaluations and in bylaws and similar documents are lengthy and arduous processes.