Little progress is made in management research?

 

So ran the headline in yesterday’s Financial Times arguing that business schools have added little to the knowledge about improving corporate performance. Is this fair? In some cases – absolutely. As the writer says ‘the role of business schools is to equip executives with the knowledge about the job of managing…and theories that do not enable managers to improve sales productivity quality or profits are useless.

Added on 26 June 2012 by Erika Lucas

So ran the headline in yesterday’s Financial Times arguing that business schools have added little to the knowledge about improving corporate performance. Is this fair? In some cases – absolutely. As the writer says ‘the role of business schools is to equip executives with the knowledge about the job of managing…and theories that do not enable managers to improve sales productivity quality or profits are useless.’ Common sense you would think but for many business schools research is driven not by the needs of business or the customer but purely by a theoretical dialogue. Of course you have to have sound academic rigour but ultimately if the research does not make a difference to the wider world – what is the point?

However there are lots of examples of where schools carry out brilliant work to help organisations public private and voluntary to be more successful. Increasingly across the academic community there is more of a concentration on cross discipline collaboration focussing on answering a question rather than just explaining theory. This approach needs to be embraced by more schools as it is where great value can be generated to improve management and business understanding.

Business schools do not have all the answers and portraying them as Ivory Towers of ultimate wisdom is disingenuous. Schools have to work closely with organisations to explore new ways of doing things guided by the principle of helping managers organisations and the wider world to be more successful. If a business school cannot fulfil that role then its relevance and raison d’etre has to be questioned.