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Panel: Is Management Research Appropriately Impacting Practitioners, Teaching, and New Theory Development?

Event:
19th CEEMAN Annual Conference
Georgia - Tbilisi | 2011
Embed
I have participated in several national and international bodies whose task was to evaluate research projects; therefore I think I know a lot about the issues associated with research. I am glad that I have an opportunity to share with you my opinion on this topic. 

After long discussions, we have decided that research is an important element of business education and the development of a business school. On the other hand, it is not clear how much management research is valued by the academic community in the context of education. 

Let me start with some comments on the impact of management research on education. I will start with a UNESCO report on education in the 21st century according to which we can identify four pillars of good education, including management education. Students should be taught how to learn to know, how to learn to act, how to live together with others, and how to be. 

Translating this into management education, “to know” means to understand the complex social and economic processes and their dynamics. Students should understand market developments and possess analytical tools. In my opinion, these are very important. They need to solve problems and react to a changing environment. They should also be able to accept other cultures, communicate, cooperate, network, and create social capital. They have to be creative, competent, development-oriented, entrepreneurial, active, and so forth. 

To support this structure, we need three pillars. The first one is knowledge. The second is skills. The third and fourth are attitudes and values. 

Thinking about management research, I believe that can influence the first pillar. First of all, this can be achieved by transferring research results into specialized courses both for regular students and executives. This happens at some business schools, especially at Master’s and PhD level. For example, at the Warsaw School of Economics, we have special electives at which the teachers present their results. They have special post-diploma studies for practitioners who want to renew their knowledge. 

With respect to the other three pillars, this transfer of knowledge is not enough. There are other methods to build attitudes and values; these have to do with academic culture, relationships between teachers and students, academic ethics, teaching methods and suchlike. It is also important to involve the students in research projects. It is possible to find examples of students being involved in research but unfortunately this is not very common practice and I am not very happy with that. 

Yes, management research is important in education but only in part of it. 

When we discuss the impact of management research on practitioners, we need to keep in mind the fact that the situation is very complex. I have done a small survey. I talked to several practitioners whom I know and asked them what they think of management research and its impact. They told me that, first of all, management research is applied research that answers specific practical questions. It responds to existing situations rather than anticipates future challenges and proposes solutions to them. There is a perceived time gap between the results of management research and the fast-moving real world in which new methods are being developed and implemented. 

This suggests that it is practitioners who create agendas for management research, not the opposite - it is not the results of research that influence reality. From my academic viewpoint, this is rather bad. 

One of the weaknesses of management research reported by practitioners is that research-based recommendations are too general or cannot be directly applied. Moreover, there is a strong competition between management research and management consulting. The latter takes many forms and offers more attractive solutions than the former. 

On the other hand, there are a lot of platforms on which scholars and practitioners can cooperate. In some cases, academic theories can be immediately verified in practice. For example, scholars work as advisors to companies, bringing along with them academic concepts and ideas. Vice-versa, practitioners in Poland often want to participate in academic events in order to gain new knowledge on current trends. I know several big projects with employers that are run by colleagues from my school. 

My school and others have special units for cooperation between academia and business. They are focused on applied research. As I said, they seem to be more reactive than proactive in their activities. This is one of the weaknesses of management research. 

Management research can influence practice only through close cooperation with practitioners. In my opinion, business and academia need to build better communication channels. Otherwise, management research will be replaced by management consulting. 

As for the impact of management research on new theory development, I am very pessimistic. Of course, there is a lot of good research in management. A lot of good projects are being run in Poland, including my school. There are a lot of scientific products, such as articles in peer-reviewed journals and books. Scholars are assessed on the basis of their number of publications. But in Poland, research is focused on rather narrowly defined issues. I am convinced that only big ground-breaking projects can help build foundations for new theories. Unfortunately, this kind of projects is lacking. To change this situation, management research needs more vision, more sophisticated vision and better research methods, both qualitative and quantitative. It also needs more interdisciplinary overlap as well as greater courage in thinking. 

As we know, there are different types of research: academic, basic, and applied. I think that a good point of departure for practitioners is basic research. We have been too focused on applied research. If we have good basic research, we will be able to look for innovative solutions for practitioners. The problem is the lack of ground-breaking innovative research for management. Managers prefer solutions to pressing problems instead of anticipating new challenges in the future.
Event:
19th CEEMAN Annual Conference: Management Education in a Changing World: Are We Ready for the Challenge?
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Filmed:
September 2011
Published from:
October 2011
Citation:
Janina Jozwiak, Panel: Is Management Research Appropriately Impacting Practitioners, Teaching, and New Theory Development?,
Accessed: July 23 2018,
Available at: http://video.ceeman.org/lectures/652/2011_ceemanac_tbilisi_jozwiak_mraipt
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