Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Beware of the Disconnect Between the Science and the Practice of Management

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In their article, The Disconnect Between the Science and Practice of Management, the authors discuss the great chasm between knowledge and application. Researchers can spend years, some even a lifetime, carefully surveying, analyzing, and surmising behavior patterns; they are correct in their conclusions a majority of the time. People in the business world are desperately seeking ways to improve behavior in the workplace; yet they avoid answers from the very people who can help them. This article presents a host of reasons why this phenomenon occurs.

Arguments and Explanations

Professionals in the business world do not argue the validity of the scientific results presented by researchers; and it’s not because the business people are not intelligent enough to comprehend the complexities of statistics, research, and application. What is argued here is that, in all their brilliance, many researchers aren’t able to communicate their findings in such a way that the general population can assimilate the thoughts into action.

Another reason professionals may be leery of research results is that most believe that research is conducted under a conflict of interest. For example, a company often pays a research lab to conduct survey to prove their point… in other words, seeking certain results.

It’s also believed that academic researchers are out of touch with the “real” business world or that they aren’t committed to resolving real issues as much as they are getting published or tenured (in other words, ulterior motives).

Academicians tend to seclude themselves from business-they don’t communicate well with the average, working manager. Although their findings could be very helpful in improving workplace behavior (productivity, absenteeism, turnover, etc), they are not written in a fashion that is easily understood or appealing to those who need the answers. Most often research findings are buried deep in the midst of psycho-jargon that neither interests working managers nor contributes to the time constraints they experience. If the information were presented clearly and concisely, perhaps using bulleted items to draw out steps that can be taken right away would ease the burden of reading and applying the findings.

Furthermore, the goals of the academician are different from those of the “non-academic colleagues.” Non-academicians want logical, solid, pragmatic information. Researchers seek theoretical, data-supported, scientific academic-oriented information that doesn’t necessarily contribute to real-world applications.

Integration Solutions

The authors then proceed to suggest solutions that could restore the relationship between business and research worlds and re-integrate the disciplines.

Business-university partnerships: combining business executives with the researchers to help develop effective surveys that cover current business concerns or issues.

Accessibility of information: Research findings need to be written and presented in a more inclusive way-stripping out jargon and sub-cultural language that creates barriers.

Business experience for professors: Use of sabbaticals or summer breaks to intern in a business environment.

Corporate sabbaticals:The reverse of the previous suggestion… corporate executives using sabbaticals to intern as professors (to educate the professors on what’s currently happening in business culture).

Overall, the authors suggest that the two worlds (of business and academia) need to intertwine more effectively to bring purpose and meaning to each other.

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