Why much of academic business research remains irrelevant for business
Much of the evidence we gathered suggests that academic research is largely self-referential because the system of prestige, funding allocation and career progression remains largely centred on notions of scholarly impact related to publications. To put it bluntly, authors are faced with two options: undertaking socially impactful research (i.e. research that solves critical problems for businesses, governments or civil society organisations) or writing academically impactful publications (i.e. based on research that fits into popular academic debates and is likely to be cited by those engaged in those debates). The latter option merely requires a thorough knowledge of the literature. By contrast, the first option requires a good understanding of practical problems; some connections with non-academic organisations; and often the time, ability and desire to negotiate and manage long-term research collaborations that may or may not result in four-star publications. It may well be, as Catherine Durose has argued previously, that “some commentators see academic practice as a refuge from engagement”, but for many others the return on investment simply does not stack up.