Academic journal article Irish Journal of Management

Management Research: Who to Talk with, What to Say

Academic journal article Irish Journal of Management

Management Research: Who to Talk with, What to Say

Article excerpt

This paper is a direct transcript of the key note presentation given by Professor Murray at the Conference

There are not many opportunities for researchers in all fields of management in Ireland to meet and share their thoughts. Those who have championed the Academy are to be congratulated for creating such a venue. Those who have contributed to making this year's conference such a large and stimulating gathering are to be thanked for bringing so many of us together. Those who have joined us from other parts of the world are especially welcome for the diversity they bring to our dialogue and for the stimulation that they add.

I am taking advantage of your presence in this special forum to talk about some issues regarding management research in general, and management research in Ireland in particular, for which there are few other opportunities for expression. A great deal of management research is conducted in Ireland but there are few, if any, occasions on which the nature and impact of that research - patterns in its content and intent, the desirability of thematic priorities, its weight in shaping the market in ideas internationally or its influence on policy or organisational decision making - are considered by the research community. This may present a picture of appropriate intellectual anarchy or of subtle emergent order. But the fact is we seldom stop to think which or to consider whether the community of practice involved should give shape to an emergent order.

I wish to make a number of assertions about management research that are serious in their intent, but also intended as points of departure for continuing debate. I suggest, first, that we have to be more self-conscious about, and responsive to, the audience for our research. Second, I suggest we should be more coherent, collectively, in at least part of what we say.

Taking these general maxims in the context of this conference's theme - understanding, shaping, managing change - I suggest that those who do, or might, listen to us are not well served by what we typically have to say. Nonetheless, we do have important things to say: about creating better understanding through coherent, multi-level research that spans time and space and embraces diversity; about informing the judgements of those who shape change by developing evidence on causality and performance consequences; and about supporting those who initiate and manage change by constructing action research and action learning frameworks for managerial behaviour.

If we can do these things I suggest we can motivate students; talk to our peers across our beloved disciplinary silos; talk to policy makers about making better judgements; and talk to managers about learning by doing and through doing.

This, of course, has the sense of a grand rational, idealised, even Utopian, vision. Having believed for marry years in the superiority of the individual research voice as the best bet for creative insights, I have no desire to lessen or diminish that voice -just a desire to amplify it by harnessing the great energy that is now too often lost in isolated research and to try to bring to our work the scale of support and impact that has made such significant difference to progress in research on science and technology.

Management research activity will be better if it is, at least in part, constructed around a firm sense of who our research should address - 'who to talk with'; and if we have a sense of purpose about the conversation we wish to have - 'what to say?'

WHO TO TALK WITH?

Business school research has four audiences. These are our students, who are best educated if teaching is research based and research informed; our peers, among whom we establish community and academic legitimacy through what we publish and on whose assessment rests career advancement; policy makers, who shape the context of business and economic change through their decisions, most typically without reference to the evidence base of management research; and managers - the practitioners around whose actions our discipline revolves - who are likely to ignore our research or find it inaccessible, contradictory and even unsupported. …

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