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Rita McGrath Post—Academics: Get Real—How to Fix Business Schools

To fix business schools, we academics should focus less on our reputations among our peers, and more on the connection between our research and real managers in real businesses.

One consequence of the quest for academic legitimacy amidst business school faculty is what one observer called a “relentless quest for status.” Academics in all fields gain status by publishing articles in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, particularly the top four or five outlets in the field that really count. Status also stems from those self-same articles being cited in other articles, to show ‘impact’ or ‘influence’ on other academics.

In my own field of management, status comes from being recognized as a contributor to a base discipline, such as sociology, economics, or psychology. It’s not about making a contribution to management thinking, with its unique emphasis on the jobs of – you guessed it – real managers. As Rakesh Khurana observed in a 2007 article in the Academy of Management Journal: “…many of the disciplined-trained scholars joining business school faculties were not intrinsically interested in business…Few [younger faculty members] were motivated in their research by a desire to examine the real problems that managers faced…” To read the entire post, click here.

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