Changing times for management educators: Rethinking engagement with participatory forms of knowledge production

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Oscar Wilde once quipped, ‘Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.’ Whilst business scholars have challenged this premise, debate rages concerning what elements are most worth knowing. Specifically, the value of rigorous academic research is often weighed against the merits of specific student experiences that may have more immediate value in the marketplace. Within this changed context, academics are challenged to embrace collaborative forms of research activity and re-imagine the nature of the academic-practitioner exchange and accompanying knowledge transfer. We explore this changing role of the business school with an eye towards outlining potential bridges between academic knowledge and benefits of interactions with practice. Specifically, we consider the academic-practitioner interface in the context of the wider debate on ‘rigour and relevance’ in management education and research. Participatory modes of knowledge production are discussed, and current ideas on the ‘management practice’ gap are discussed. We conclude that more innovative forms of research engagement are required to encourage academic-practitioner collaboration. To that end, we discuss a number of potential approaches to help foster co-learning and discovery and debate their student, educator and broader instructional implications.

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