The conventions of management research and their relevance to management practice

M. Kelemen, P. Bansal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

139 Citations (Scopus)


This paper recognizes the failure of management research to communicate with practitioners, and speculates over the reasons why this may be the case. It is possible that the researchers' interests may not always coincide with management practitioners'; however, even when such interests are congruent, it seems that relatively little management research is published in practitioner journals. We suggest that this is because academic research is written in a style that tends to alienate most practitioners. This paper isolates the stylistic conventions associated with research targeted to academics (typically published in academic journals) and research targeted to practitioners (typically published in practitioner-oriented journals). Such stylistic differences are illustrated through a study of organizational change whose findings have been published in both academic and practitioner format, namely in the Administrative Science Quarterly and the Harvard Business Review. We suggest that the gap between these two types of research could be narrowed through processes of translation (i.e. academic jargon could be translated in practitioner language). In addition we might consider greater use of Mode 2 research over Mode 1 research (academic). Mode 2 research presupposes that teams of academics and practitioners assemble to define the research problem and methodology in terms appropriate to a particular context and in a way that accounts for all existing interests so that translation processes are seamless. However, Mode 2 creates its own gap in that the knowledge is more contextual and may not reach a wide audience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-108
Number of pages12
JournalBritish Journal of Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2002
Externally publishedYes

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