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

5. From personal experience – managers in corporate life are extremely stressed, and constantly focus on results.  Therefore, the time allocated for reading is limited. Maybe with the research results presented in a brief abstract and executive summary, there should be:

  • an implementation proposal, with projected time scale/resourcing/etc. as appropriate, and
  • an accompanying presentation, which will be used to motivate and communicate.

I realize it sounds like spoon-feeding, but it may be a useful approach for those working in a stressed environment – and give researchers a chance to test and evaluate implementation.

6. Reading is a must for good managers. The knowledge is an asset that could not be ignored. Through reading, the managers would be equipped with knowledge that would help him to make a good decision.

7. One way could be to publish case-based research papers similar to those in Harvard Business Review. Managers can easily relate to these studies more than theory-based papers.

8. The problem comes from management schools.  They should teach students the importance of reading basic research papers that is the source of books.  After they leave school voilà to reading.  It is a matter of culture.

9. However, not all managers went through management schools though.

10. In my view, the statement “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” seems hasty generalization. When it comes to practice, the practitioners are well conversant with regard to solving real business problems than the so-called researchers who tend to be more of theoreticians. This holds true because “practice makes a man perfect”.

Something can be said smartly in theory but when it comes to implementation you may encounter painstaking challenges due to the inability of theory or research output to detail every bit of unfolding anomalies that naturally happen in practice. There is a marked difference between theory and practice. That is why we usually hear many companies lamenting for their poor performance on account of their failure to implement the plan despite a well-designed plan. The plan may be written in a very sound manner and everyone may acclaim it but when it comes to implementation, you experience many things not addressed and your decision guide may become futile to handle such issues.

Managers are dealing with complexities that cannot be expressed in hard and dried ways and this arises the need to apply hunches and experiences beyond written rules. A researcher can forward a recommendation that resembles the one proposed by an assembly of rats to scape attack “tying a bell in the neck of a cat”…. In the end, I want to emphasize the importance of reading for everyone be they managers or other practitioners, but reading alone is not a sine qua all.

11. Any communication is designed to appeal to a particular segment. We write articles for academic journals, that can best be appreciated by researchers and academicians. If we want our writing to appeal to practitioners, we must write in the language, style, and in the context that appeals to practicing managers, in the publications that they read. It happens in other fields too: Popular science magazines, blogs, and television features reach out to a greater number of youngsters, and no doubt inspires many of them for a career in the sciences. A Richard Feynman was exceptional. A Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist, he could reach out to undergraduate students with his famous “The Feynman Lectures in Physics”.

In general, it is rather difficult to bridge the two levels. However, I think that is the only way. We should share the insights and perspectives gained through our research, in business magazines read by practitioners, and in a style that would appeal to them.

12. I think that the manager depends on what he learned in his school and his life experience and what is added by the courses of continuing education. So, if any researcher wants to affect managers decision, he has to influence the curriculum of courses and this is not too difficult, especially now, where these courses are run by high-quality lecturers who see the urge theories and researches in their field. I think communication with them helps in this context.

13. I’ve never seen managers who read research results. They use consulting advice and results. But due to analytics software, managers are doing research but not reading the research for decisions.

14. Enriching Policy with Research, available at, relates to this question and may be of interest.

The article agrees that research in science, technologies, and ideas can make a difference if they identify what tools, methods, and approaches no longer work; test new ways of doing things; and link knowledge of that in ways that inform policy and practice. However, researchers routinely miss opportunities to turn their inquiries into lasting change. The cause of this is the weak rapport between their investigations and recommendations and the real world of policymaking.

The factors that define courses of action fall into three overlapping areas: (i) the political context, (ii) the evidence, and (iii) the links between policy and research communities, within the fourth set of factors: external influences. One cannot just transport research to the policy sphere. In a world shaped by complexity, policymakers have to deal with the pros and cons of policy decisions daily. So, across the four dimensions, the article makes practical suggestions about what researchers need to know, what they need to do, and how they can do it if they are to influence policy and practice.

Vibeke Vad Baunsgaard, Ph.D.
Vibeke Vad Baunsgaard, Ph.D.
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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