We present an analysis of the articles published in the Journal of Management Studies since its inception to assess to what extent JMS has: maintained its leading international ranking; maintained its founding mission as a broad based management journal; and remained a broad based management journal compared to other general management journals. In terms of its impact factor and citations despite reaching a low point in 2001, we find that JMS today ranks higher than it has ever done throughout its 50-year history. From our content analysis covering the life-cycle of JMS, we find four areas have been the most frequently represented, although their relative importance varies between decades: Organizational Management/Behaviour, Strategy, Human Resource Management, and General Management, accounting for 67 per cent of articles published over the period. JMS has strengthened its international author distribution through the increase in authors from the EU especially; the period 2000–04 which saw the predominance of UK authors was an anomaly. There are marked differences between type of article and author country of origin. Our comparative analysis of the word networks between the journals JMS, AMJ, ASQ, and HRM shows that over each decade the papers in the first three normally form a single cluster, indicating that the words used in the papers in the different journals are similar, while papers from HRM often form an outlining group. Notably, in the early 2000s papers in JMS form a distinct cluster, with papers from HRM paralleling the anomaly identified in the content analysis. Overall, JMS has regained its distinctiveness as a broad-based international management journal, not favouring any particular theoretical or empirical approach.