Academic journal article Irish Journal of Management

Reflections on Irish Management Research: Past, Present and Future

Academic journal article Irish Journal of Management

Reflections on Irish Management Research: Past, Present and Future

Article excerpt


The papers in this special issue were commissioned to reflect on the status of management research in Ireland as the Irish Journal of Management entered its fourth decade of publication. The special issue is intended to reflect on the current state of management research in Ireland and in so doing, consider its past and outline some future research directions. Drawing on some of the leading national contributors in their respective disciplinary fields, the special issue evaluates the research traditions and future trajectory of management research across the disciplines that have dominated the research published in the Irish Journal of Management over its history.

We invited contributions based around those topics that have been most strongly represented in the journal over the past three decades.1 For each contribution, we provided the authorial team with a rather broad brief to (1 ) outline the manner in which the study of the area has evolved; (2) consider the dominant theoretical traditions in the respective field; (3) discuss the key current issues and debates; (4) consider the consequences of recent socioeconomic change and crisis for the understanding of the area; (5) outline some key aspects of a research agenda in the field moving forward. However, in seeking these contributions, we did recognise the differing traditions of each disciplinary area, and hence, authors were afforded considerable freedom in terms of the focus of individual contributions.

Over the past four decades, the research focus and structures of Irish business schools have evolved significantly in line with national and international demands and trends. Irish management practice has been greatly influenced by foreign-owned multinational corporations (MNCs) located in Ireland and the growth of key sectors such as life sciences and information and communications technology (ICT) (Lavelle et al., 2009). From an international perspective, Irish management research output has grown. Evidence from the Forfás (2009) study highlighted the growth of output of research in the category of management studies concluding that 'Ireland shows strong growth (73% increase in 2007 compared with the average 2002-06) in terms of business research publications. This headline figure needs to be interpreted carefully however, in the context of firstly a very low baseline (67 papers in 1998; 71 average 2002-06), and secondly a possibly aberrant figure for 2007.' Irish input as a proportion of the international output also increased dramatically (by 44%). This places Ireland in 17th position globally, moving ahead of the Czech Republic in the international rankings. Some of this growth in output has been supported by public research funding under the Higher Education Authority's Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions (Cycles 1 to 5), and funding for the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (now the Irish Research Council) and have been shaped by the growth of business schools across the Irish HEI sector'.

From a policy perspective, the importance of good management practice has been emphasised in the work of the Management Development Council. The Management Development Council (2010, p. 5) recommended a greater support for the third-level sector, state funding and regular research that shares best practices. Moreover, the Council estimated that improvements in management performance of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) could return up euro2.5 billion to the economy to turnover/sales. Moreover, Professor Frank Roche, Chairman of the Management Development Council in 2010, in his foreword for the Management Development in Ireland report argued that

'... Ireland requires a national system for management development. Such a system would see a diverse range of providers offering management programmes which utilize best international practice, in terms of both delivery and content, and which are designed to explicitly meet the needs of the enterprise sector. …

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