Academic journal article Journal of Management and Organization

CEOs' Readership of Business and Management Journals in Australia: Implications for Research and Teaching

Academic journal article Journal of Management and Organization

CEOs' Readership of Business and Management Journals in Australia: Implications for Research and Teaching

Article excerpt


This article evaluates the impact of academic research in management and business on a sample of the leaders of Australia's largest companies and public sector organizations. The data from a questionnaire survey conducted in 2005 indicate that the impact of the collective research outputs of business/management academics on senior private and public sector leaders is almost non-existent. The implications of these findings for the conduct of research in business and management in the future are evaluated, as well as the emerging challenges we face from new non-university research and business/management education providers. The broader consequences of a possible paradigm shift from a largely academic research/teaching orientation, towards a more explicitly professional and business/industry orientation are discussed towards the end of the article.

Keywords: journal readership; education competition; research impacts; research relevance


All knowledge should be translated into action.

Albert Einstein

The impetus to undertake this study was generated by a single comment made by Mr Michael Chancy, former CEO of Wesfarmers, now Chairman of the National Australia Bank and President of the Business Council of Australia, after a presentation on business leadership to an MBA Organizational Behaviour group at the Graduate School of Management, the University of Western Australia in April 2004. During the question and answer session he was asked, 'Do you read academic journals that cover business and organizational issues to help you keep up to speed with what you do as a leader and in running your company?' His answer was:

No, I don't - and I'm not aware of anyone else in my circle who does. The only publication I do read regularly to keep up with current ideas is The Economist.

Since Chancy made these remarks, there have been a growing number of criticisms from nonacademics about what they regard as the lack of relevance and impact of much of the research conducted by academics in Australia and overseas. For example, in a wide-ranging critique of what he considered to be the outdated cultures and mind-sets of Australian universities, Christopher Pearson made these comments: 'Think of the endless, mostly pointless expenditure of effort on refereed journal articles about ever more specialist and arcane topics. Imagine all the unpublishable theses and unreadable books. If I were an undergraduate, I think it's that vast amount of time and money wasted to prop up academic amour-propre that would upset me die most. The inefficiency of having academic staff not available to teach for substantial chunks of the year would be irksome, especially for someone who could otherwise fit a three-year degree into two years. More irksome yet is the realisation that Australian universities are not, and never have been, overburdened with distinguished scholars, and that all but the most distinguished teachers tend to be looked down on' (Pearson 2006: 8).

More specifically, one disgruntled former business studies' student (Australian Financial Review, Letters Page, 15 December 2004) observed that:

Much research is curiosity based, published in arcane journals read only by other academics, and of little practical utility in occupationally relevant courses. Business research has a notoriously poor transfer into real-world management practices.

He went on to say that the consequence of the time the academics spend publishing in such 'arcane journals' is that students, 'are often subjected to uninterested lecturers, peremptorily 'feeding the chooks' from obsolete notes without any regard for the learning needs of the student and the teaching techniques that enhance those needs. Students also find tutors failing to turn up or tutorials cancelled at a whim; student work lost by lecturers; lecturers who would rather be left alone to indulge themselves on matters that will never be relevant to die need of students'. …

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