In Pursuit of Impact: Bridging Scholarly Inquiry and Managerial Practice
The research and thought leadership produced by business school faculty has profound effects both in academia and in the business community. Yet, the apparent divide between research and practice is a recognized problem in business schools all around the world. Some argue that business leaders can lean on scientific research to better understand complexities and make the best-informed decisions for real-world issues. Some, however, remain skeptical and may have even developed an “allergy” to scholarly inquiry and intellectual contribution.
The Center for Applied Research (CAR) invited some of our best teacher-scholars to a roundtable to reflect on how and why to produce research of high quality that is rigorous, imaginative, and meaningfully relevant to – and impactful on – business practice and teaching at all levels. These faculty represent the related worlds of business disciplines – real estate, operations management, marketing, strategy, information systems, leadership, and management. Here CAR assembles some of the deep reflections by these colleagues and a recent MBA graduate, hoping that this article will help us rethink our role as teacher-scholars in making a real impact.
“Good teachers must be knowledgeable but also humble. Research is a humbling experience as we are trying to learn something new at a very deep level. Being an active researcher reminds us that we are also students of the business world, and makes it easier for us to identify and empathize with our students in the classroom.” – Brian Jacobs
“Research involves confronting the unknown to solve real-world problems. It requires all who engage in it to recognize their limitations and still ‘push their way into the unknown’ (Schwartz, 2008). At PGBS, confronting the unknown in our work is essential if we are to arrive at novel solutions that better business and society and equip Best for the World Leaders.” – Cole Short
“Knowledge creation is essential to knowledge dissemination. I believe in the academic tree metaphor: scholarly research and intellectual contributions (creation) are the roots that keep the tree of teaching and sharing knowledge healthy (dissemination). Our students bloom and flourish when they learn from us, but we must create and keep healthy ground, soil, nutrients, and that is by conducting scholarly research.” – Cristel Russell
“Business schools shape and develop the leaders of today and tomorrow, who will create and manage organizations of all types in many different contexts. To do that, we must equip them with the most state-of-the-art knowledge and skills available. If this is to be credible, it must be evidenced-based – produced through rigorous research that addresses real-world problems and challenges. We share in the responsibility for establishing that evidence base, in order to inform our curriculum, and in turn, build organizations that are capable of not only profitability but also social change.” – Cristina Gibson
“Our scholarship helps us faculty be better educators, as we disseminate knowledge and connect with students in an evidence-based approach, engendering students as co-creators of such knowledge. By being thought leaders who actively engage in scholarship, we better establish credibility with students as experts in our areas of expertise. Engaging in rigorous research that is relevant helps us to better address problems and discover opportunities of today’s organizations.” – Dana Sumpter
“Our scholarly activities reveal a big picture of where we are heading with our daily business decisions. The findings from our research give feedback to industry leaders to reinforce or reconsider their practices for the good of society. As a teacher, the big picture we learn from our research works as a compass when we transfer our knowledge to students, helping us to guide them in the right direction.” – Donn Kim
“Scholarly contributions heighten the prestige of the university and the reputation of the business programs. It also provides evidence-based solutions for the business leaders and the world to address organizational problems.” – Jennifer Franczak
“Graziadio intellectual contributions are special in that we value and promote the production of knowledge that impacts business practice. Therefore, by design, our school often develops research that can be used in the classroom and for business decision making, because it is intended for these purposes in the first place. Our students benefit because they are first-hand recipients of the discoveries from our faculty’s research.” – Nelson Granados
“There is a certain lure and fascination with pursuing scholarly inquiry. The thrill naturally comes once we have tackled all the constraints, arrived at the right solution, and maximized the utilities of return (which often means some top academic publication). Yet, success and excellence taste even better when we can share these final products to students, colleagues, clients, and stakeholders with logic and passion and see that many professional and personal lives may be touched by our sharing.” – Zhike Lei
“What I learned in class resonated with what I used to work on in journalism, and I was encouraged to dive even deeper by my professors. What was even more inspirational was seeing the excitement and pride from my professors when they shared their insights, findings, theories, and philosophies in class. They were not afraid to argue, to question, or to find answers. They wholeheartedly loved their jobs as scholars. We, as students, felt we could trust them to guide us and enlighten us with their expertise. My appreciation and respect for my professors’ contributions and willfulness are beyond words.” – Lively Lai (Full-time MBA of Class 2022)
Through these reflections presented by Graziadio's Center for Applied Research, the importance of teacher-scholars' role in impacting the landscape of business through research is supported. Learn more about Graziadio's Center for Applied Research and browse current research journals on the website.