Network Debate – How Do You Make Managers Use Management Research?

A question has been flourishing in the ResearchGate network for some time. It concerns how management researchers can make managers read and use their research in solving business problems. Several researchers have provided answers of various kinds; with few exceptions, all answers provided are from researchers.

FACT BOX WIKIPEDIA

ResearchGate is a social networking site for scientists and researchers to share papers, ask and answer questions, and find collaborators. According to a study by Nature and an article in Times Higher Education, it is the largest academic social network in terms of active users […]. ResearchGate is a German-owned company and has in 2016 more than 11 million users.

Why is the ResearchGate online dialogue given to you by ManageMagazine? For several reasons:

  1. ResearchGate is a social network for researchers. Since the question concerns managers – managers should be given a chance to answer. I, therefore, encourage you, the manager, to leave your comment in the comment section below.
  1. The question posed is all about the purpose of ManageMagazine: making research useful for practitioners, managers, and leaders around the globe. We believe research must be useful, solve problems, be in tune with the needs of the practitioner and it must be written in an accessible style. So, becoming more knowledgeable about how research can better serve managers will help not just ManageMagazine, but also all other stakeholders such as researchers, journals and publishing houses in making positive changes to research communication, presentations, and publications.

It is unknown to me whether or not it is acceptable to pass on this dialogue. If anyone should disapprove of this article, I will remove it. 11 million ResearchGate users can follow the dialogue as it is; hence forwarding it here in disguise is presumably acceptable. The question and all answers are presented anonymously; should anyone wish for changes to that, you can contact me directly at vibeke@managemagazine.com

Please keep in mind that the answers provided below are not representative of the researcher in general and his or her opinion on the matter – they are merely the answers given by specific individuals.

I encourage all researchers who do not feel represented by the comments to also leave your opinion in the dedicated comment field below the article.

The question posed reads like this:

How can management researchers make managers read and use their research work in solving business problems?

It has been observed that managers have a general aversion to reading research-based management books, which if read, could have made them understand more comprehensively the causality of the malaise in their department or organization. They many times make mistakes in understanding the dynamics of the complex problems they face in their organization. For example, this often happens in managing group conflict and employee relations issues.

Whose duty is it, you think, to make them read the management research-based books and use that knowledge in correctly understanding the problems? How can this be ensured that they make use of the existing research for which so much money is being spent globally?

ANSWERS:

(There are many answers as they are presented in their entirety. Read some of them to get a feel for the comments and leave your thoughts and reactions in the commentary field below)

  1. If the main task of a research work is to be read by managers and not by colleagues at that scientific discipline where the author works, then there should be a few things:
  • a very small and attractive abstract
  • a visualization that tells the story by figures
  • a strong example from reality

Then the manager will use his/her time to read, otherwise, just half of the abstract.

2. You raise a question that expresses the relationship between the experts in the field of theory and practice, science and commerce. Scientist spends his whole life in search of truth. Management activities are aimed at making a profit in the implementation of relations “buying and selling”. If the manager is constantly starting to read a lengthy statement of scientific hypotheses, the manager will “die of boredom” or lose his job. On the other hand, it is the implementation of breakthrough hypotheses scientists in practice there are great opportunities for profit in business. Therefore, in the commercial area should be a group of professionals who have to study carefully the possibility of commercial discoveries scientists. On the other hand, research institutions must be unique specialists, which should reflect the commercial component of the discoveries scientists.

3. Yes, some managers who are forced into trying a new method devote little time or resources to the method and then claim that it was not the correct approach when it fails. I think it depends a lot on either the personality of the manager, or the learning culture of the organization the manager resides in. I am personally a full-time manager, but find it infinitely useful to be dipping myself with the research environment. Getting information from the research world to implement in the practical side and hopefully contributing back via feedback from implementations. But then, it is just me. I think perhaps it sounds too “forceful” in the statement “could have made them understand more comprehensively”. I believed a lot of managers are ‘fighting fires” in their own field. Just forgot to take a step back. What we can do is to maybe write an article about this in a trade periodical such as HBR, etc. so that hopefully managers read it and start thinking about continuing education – thus finally realizing that there are such treasures waiting for them to uncover.

Vibeke Vad Baunsgaard, Ph.D.
Vibeke Vad Baunsgaard, Ph.D.https://managemagazine.com/
Vibeke is Founder and CEO at ManageMagazine. Entrepreneur, lecturer and Honorary Research Associate at the University of Technology Sydney. Sociologist and Ph.D. in Organization Studies and Innovation Management. Passionate about facilitating a positive research impact through knowledge sharing and professional networks, an impact that will allow people to live out their highest, truest and fullest expression of themselves.
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