Making business research more relevant to business practitioners?

In this publish or perish world hitting all streams, research is becoming more and more irrelevant to the real/practitioner world.  I mean other disciplines can still excuse themselves from connecting to real world, but business research has no such choice.

Carmen Nobel of HBSWK looks at this paradox – to publish or to make research relevant:

Like many business leaders, Donovan Neale-May routinely seeks out information on business innovation and management trends. He reads reports from market analysis firms, white papers from companies in his field, and articles in online trade magazines. But he rarely bothers with academic business journals.

“Academic research can be helpful, but it tends to be overly complex, hard to digest, and not backed by real quantitative insights from customer populations or engagements,” says Neale-May, executive director of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council, a global affinity network of more than 10,000 senior marketing executives based in San Jose, California. “There is often a disconnect between practitioners and academics, who tend to be far removed from operational complexities and market dynamics.”

Neale-May illustrates a pervasive paradox in academia: Research conducted at business schools often offers no obvious value to people who actually work in the world of business. Contrast this with other scientific disciplines, where academic research is leading to the development of a second skinthat could improve drug delivery or alerting farmers and scientists on how to reduce nitrous oxide emissions from agricultural farming.

Harvard Business School’s Michael W. Toffel addresses this issue inEnhancing the Practical Relevance of Research, forthcoming in Production and Operations Management. “This is my soapbox message to academics: be more relevant,” says Toffel, the Senator John Heinz Professor of Environmental Management and faculty chair of the HBS Business and Environment Initiative.

Quite a few ideas there.

One still does not understand why cant we allow both to continue? The current problem is all incentives are skewed towards publish/perish agenda. Academicians have little choice but to to join the herd even if they are more inclined towards working with practitioners. The system should reward both…


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