While academic management research has a ‘utilisation problem’ fads do not – why?
Even the most harmful of fads can (and do) run rampant
Are practitioners suckers for sophistry?
What mimetic properties do fads have that academic research does not possess?
Do managers lack the skills to differentiate sophistry from knowledge because of how they have been educated in business schools?
Hambrick’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” analogy Hambrick (1993) – ‘we will find out that things might have worked out very well without us’ Where is our Clarence and our happy ending? How can we make more of a difference?
What are the problems with management research?
Seen as problematic by ESRC
Heterogeneous and fragmented
Management not a discipline but a confluence of fields of enquiry
Lacks scientific identity and has multiple ontologies and epistemolgies
2001 RAE over 1,500 journals cited in the B&M Unit of Assessment
Problems with the social organisation of management research
Business Schools – the cash cow at the forefront of commodified education
Economics, psychology etc departments often transferred (unwillingly) into Business Schools
Tensions between teaching & research due to the intensification of academic work – more (and weaker) students, less funding per student
Academics’ research time and resources are being increasingly squeezed particularly in B&M
RAE has reified the traditional academic recognition system
Publishing in top journals is the ‘gold standard’
But little applied management research will get published in the top journals
RAE emphasised transdisciplinarity but very little was produced
The RAE has distorted management research and it has swallowed up masses of academic time
The production and transfer of management knowledge
Huge debates in the late 1990s about the need for new modes of management knowledge production and transfer (paradoxically, since then funding from the private sector has declined faster)
Became encapsulated in the Mode 1/Mode 2 debate
Debates about how to ‘bridge the gap’ between those who develop substantive theory and those who attempt to deploy it
The need for complementary ‘substantive theories’ (episteme) and ‘theories of action’ (techne)
Mode 1 and Mode 2 compared (1) Applied and applicable research Intervention research Production of new knowledge, theory building, adding to the base of disciplinary knowledge, replicability, validity Aim Academics and practitioners Academics often within a prescribed discipline and often a much smaller sub-field of ‘experts’ Stakeholders and audience Transdisciplinary, permeable Often situationally specific Single discipline, impermeable, paradigmatic conformity Often a-contextual Research boundaries Mode 2 Mode 1 Aspect
Mode 1 and Mode 2 compared (2) Simultaneous production and consumption: knowledge production and diffusion are interlinked and may be multi-modal Production precedes consumption May never be used to support practice Potential use does not influence research design Usage Transfer into practice, practitioner-oriented journals, dissemination often through professional bodies, multiple publics Peer reviewed journals controlled by other academics, well defined and institutionalised channels, single and limited public Dissemination Team based Externally defined research agenda Heterarchic, networked Often individualist Research agenda set autonomously Hierarchic Substantial commitment to extant bodies of knowledge Organisation Mode 2 Mode 1 Aspect
Mode 1 and Mode 2 compared (3) Simultaneous production and consumption: knowledge production and diffusion are interlinked and may be multi-modal Elitist, exclusive Orientation Validation in use Defined by the academic discipline Methodology Applicability, perceived usefulness by research users and contribution to practice by practitioners Validation through peer review and publication Validation through an authority structure Validation Pluralist, participatory Excellence as determined by peers, disciplinary norms and quality audits (e.g. the RAE) Evaluation criteria Mode 2 Mode 1 Aspect
Mode 1 is ‘discipline based, university-centred, and dominated by highly trained individuals’; it is ‘primarily cognitive, carefully validated by peer review, and applied later, by others, if it is applied at all’. Huff (2000)
Mode 2 leads to cultural change in host organisations as ‘managerial choices, endeavours and evaluations are progressively designed with increased scientific awareness’
With Mode 2 'there is no better method to reduce misleading mimetic behaviour, blind compliance to gurus or fashion in management practice‘ ( Hatchuel, 2001)
Research organisation differs in some French and Swedish business schools with a stronger emphasis on transfer
What new modes of research organisation are needed? Laboratory based scientists Clinical practitioners Health care practitioners
What new modes of research organisation are needed? Laboratory based scientists Clinical practitioners Health care practitioners Management
What new modes of research organisation are needed?
Starkey and Madan (2001) identified that significant institutional, structural and cultural changes are needed to engender Mode 2 involving:
The reform of business education
Moving towards interdisciplinarity away from silos
Restructuring academic institutions to improve knowledge exchange and dissemination
Creating new cross-disciplinary, impact-focused journals
Developing new measures of ‘academic impact’
Creating academic/practitioner forums to facilitate the co-production of knowledge
‘ the only alternative to any form of ideological absolutism lies in intellectual pluralism, which is likely to lead to both better research and to broadened usefulness’ (Ghoshal, 2005)
Who will be the revelatory Clarence for management research? Will he ever arrive? Will there be a happy ending? Or will academics become increasingly marginalised in the knowledge production business?