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Denis Harrington, Jeremy C. Short and Briga Hynes

Abstract

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.

Open access

Arthur Kearney, Denis Harrington and Felicity Kelliher

Abstract

The research considers a recently developed model of managerial capability for innovation in the microfirm context. Microfirms are firms employing less than 10 people. The research takes an interpretivist methodological approach based on a pilot study of five in-depth interviews with owner/managers of tourism microfirms. Findings indicate the incremental nature of innovation; the importance of aspects of managerial capability in the guise of leadership, operational capability, strategic thinking and the development of relationships with people. Innovation is shown to emerge through the interaction of aspects of managerial capability and key resource pools. The empirical research results in a refined model of managerial capability for innovation in context. A contribution to microfirm management practice is made through providing a model of managerial capability which can be used to improve the competitiveness of microfirms in the tourism industry. Allied to this contribution it is suggested that policy makers can use the model through further dissemination of their efforts to develop industry best practice. Recommendations for future empirical research based on an expanded microfirm study are suggested.

Open access

Thomas O’Toole, Felicity Kelliher and Denis Harrington

Open access

Robert J. Galavan, Denis Harrington and Felicity Kelliher

Abstract

This paper addresses the debate on rigour and relevance in management research to identify barriers to progress and identify the challenges and opportunities in moving forward. We identify strong calls from both North American and European literatures for a move to close this gap. It has, however, been 20 years since Hambrick asked scholars ‘What if the academy actually mattered?’ during his Presidential address to the Academy of Management. Despite both the time and the consistency of calls, there has been only modest progress in closing this rigour-relevance gap. We argue that this is not because of any lack of willingness or capacity but is shaped by systemic issues. We find the narrative of the business school framed as either professional or social sciences a core issue. Each brings with them a tradition of different ontological perspectives and epistemological processes, protected by gatekeepers, which supports, even if unintentionally, the maintenance of the gap. We go on to discuss the challenge of management education and research in a postmodern context, the need to examine our conception of rigour, and to challenge the definition of management as a profession given its strategic win-lose orientation. We conclude with a discussion on the relationship between society and business and lay out the challenges ahead for richly contextualised scholarly work that may be defined as both rigorous and relevant.