Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Why Management Academics Matter

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Why Management Academics Matter

Article excerpt

Why management academics matter


This article was originally published on The Conversation, an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts. Disclosure information is available on the original site.


Authors: Joel Bothello, Assistant Professor in Strategy and Sustainability, John Molson School of Business, Concordia University and Thomas Roulet, Senior Lecturer, King's College London

Across a variety of professions, many high-achieving people report the feeling that their accomplishments are the result of luck and contingency rather than individual skill and merit.

The identification of this "impostor syndrome" dates back to the 1970s, although its prevalence today is hardly surprising given the unprecedented specialization and explosion of technology at work.

In a recent essay in the Journal of Management Studies, we outline how the impostor syndrome is especially pervasive in one occupation: Management professors.

Management is a fairly recent social science, but for a number of reasons, academics in this field are particularly challenged by students, peers and fellow social scientists.

On a broader level, the added value of business school is itself being questioned. What impact would that have on aspiring academics?

Management: A young, interdisciplinary field

Compared with related fields like sociology, economics or psychology, management is a relatively new field -- the Academy of Management, the biggest academic association in management, was established between the two world wars.

Since that time, though, management has become well-defined and rigorous area of study and research, with scholars publishing not only in their own fields, but also other social science journals, including the prestigious American Sociological Review or the American Economic Review. They have even published in more generalist journals like Science and Nature.

Management research, by nature, is interdisciplinary, drawing from multiple fields in humanities and social sciences and often bringing them together to generate novel contributions to research.

Skepticism abounds

However, other social scientists still hold the bias that management is not a legitimate scientific field. Our experiences suggest that people, in general, do not give much credit to academic work in management, simply because it is most commonly (and prejudicially) considered as something that is practised rather than researched.

The incredulity extends to other audiences as well. When teaching in business schools, management scholars are exposed to students who are in the classroom because they want to enhance their performance or credentials in the business world.

That means management academics are often teaching executives who sometimes have a decade or more experience than they do. The challenge is convincing those executives that researchers have something to offer in a field in which they have less practical experience -- or in some cases, none at all.

Internal challenges

Despite being less recognized as a science than parallel fields, management scholarship has rapidly become hyper-competitive for junior scholars -- the requirements to get a tenure-track job or tenure in the field have exploded. …

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