Toponderzoek moet bij managers landen

Nieuws | de redactie
24 november 2009 | In haar tienjarige bestaan heeft ERIM een hoge plek bereikt in de wetenschappelijke rankings. Maar hoe zorg je ervoor dat dit onderzoek ook relevant is voor de bestuurskamers en daar doordringt? Die vraag stond centraal op het ERIM-lustrum op 29 oktober 2009.

Dean George Yip spoke on the duality of the challenge facingERIM, bringing to life the dual impact. He outlined the uniquechallenges – that of two audiences: academics and businesspractitioners. Academics are, of course, working outside thebusiness organizations. He provided the example of other faculties- law, medicine, and other faculties – who do not suffer from thisduality. Academics are more connected to practice in thesedisciplines than Business Admin. PhDs can possibly be. The contextmakes research more interesting for managers. There is, accordingto Professor Yip, a need for two different types of methodology,and for studies with more variables than observations. What isneeded, essentially, is conversion but NOT translation. Theresearch carried out should be converted into readableinterpretations that are palatable for the business community. Thetarget for RSM is a 1% per annum to 5 or 6% per annum increase intop tier journal publications to increase visibility forERIM.

Marketing professor Stefan Stremersch argued that one paper cannothave a high impact on both academic and practical fields, but thatscholars themselves can have this impact – using the anecdotalmethod. His advice to young scholars was to work in an area notdirectly connected to your research – you are not the same expertin academia as opposed to practice. He went on to advise doingresearch on a real business problem not yet solved, groundingyourself in existing literature. “Be a salesman, incorporate acompany, write popular articles”. Discovery, he claimed, is not thesame as excavation. Write books, attend practice conferences, workwith experienced people – this is the way forward according toStremersch.

RSM-professor Daan van Knippenberg presented a very lively argumenton understanding diversity – this, he claims, has no managerialimpact yet. He stated that academic impact does have an impact onbusiness practices and research is what has dual impact, notpeople. The old adage “Nothing is as practical as a good theory”still stands with regard to contemporary research was his opinion.Knippenberg addressed the question regarding how diversity affectsteam performance, considering it as an international resource, butalso a source of bias. Categorization, he stated, requires anelaboration model.

Group information, elaboration, motivation and ability, taskcomplexity, intergroup bias all constitute the challenges involvedin managing diversities and managing contingencies.
Prioritizing applicability will, he feels, prevent bias andstimulate elaboration. His advice is that it is preferable tohighlight rather than downplay difference. What makes team membersengage positively with salient differences, he asks? The answer isto diversify beliefs, to have organizational openness. The future,he believes, is to provide leadership training and development,self-development and to feed back into fundamental theory.

John Child of Birmingham Business School followed up with the topic’What do the next ten years hold for ERIM?’. His opinion is thatthere is a sound foundation of academic rigour, but it is vital torelate theory to practice and address key issues concerningmanagement and society. There are two lines of development -methodological and substantive. Development of good theoriesrequires exposure to practice, therefore action research isimportant – to be in contact with what is happening in the outsideworld. This kind of theory-testing is close to consultancy. Childoffers the prototype examples, such as the Hawthorne experiments atHarvard which he feels are not so feasible nowadays.

The intellectual executive is a new phenomenon – what we are nowseeing emerging is the CEO-researcher, research being close toaction. The new role of business science in management – businessin emerging economies, international business – is a new wave inthe business world. Sustainability, organizational governance andrepair of trust are important issues, Child stated, as we are nowfacing an extreme crisis, that of global warming, which is evenworse than the economic crisis. An important task for management,he feels,  is the repair of trust in organizational leadershipthat ordinary people have lost. What we are now achieving iscross-fertilization across disciplines and departments, and this ishealthy.

 Joy Kearney, ERIM

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