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Bridging the gap between research and practice – Management Decision "in motion"

11th June 2021

Author: Dr. Wendy Chen

Every day, management practitioners are facing new challenges that must be overcome, regardless if they are due to supply shortages, labour issues, or just the work itself.

However, management researchers oftentimes are not aware of these challenges. For example, management tools like the agile methodology have been employed for quite some time in a lot of professional management and software companies. Yet many open questions remain around how to most effectively lead teams to adapt the methodology including challenges related to company culture and lack of team ownership. This is where management researchers can come in and make a real impact on day-to-day management.

A similar situation can be found going the other way as well. While management researchers are studying cutting-edge issues to provide managerial implications in their published papers, companies that are seeking that information or are in need of these solutions may not even be aware of them. In order to increase their awareness of the work we so diligently devote ourselves to, we need to ensure that we can help them overcome the challenges they are truly facing. Therefore, it is crucial to have that two-way communication.

To date, hearing real ground level voices from all levels of management has been a never-ending challenge. Also, the daily stresses of running organisations can easily preoccupy managers' time just as management scholars must juggle research, teaching, and service responsibilities, etc. The most important thing is to recognise the discrepancy between the real world and the theoretical and to begin merging the two together... and the only way to do that is to have a more shared understanding between these two worlds.

The new "In Motion" section of the Management Decision journal gives us the exact platform through which management scholars and practitioners can have open dialogues with each other to ensure our studies can have real-world impact. We know it is crucial for management scholars to always be in tune with practitioners, the ones whose ability to put food on the table depends on the success of their organisation. It is also critical for practitioners to have a platform to communicate with management researchers. Thus, management scholars have a choice to make – do we want to stand idly by, separated from the world of management in practice? Or, do we want to serve as guides leading organisations through the flummoxing fog to a better tomorrow? As the oldest and longest-run scholarly journal in management, Management Decision has produced over a half-century of groundbreaking scientific management research.

However, 2020 has brought new challenges to many organisations. Therefore, we are excited to start the new "In Motion" section to understand practitioners’ challenges and to exchange knowledge with them. This new section welcomes diverse perspectives and discourses from both academic researchers and practitioners in management.

Since the origins of science, the central theme has always been to understand the world around us. We all know the story of Newton sitting underneath an apple tree and an apple falling on his head helped lead to the discovery of gravity. If we were to extrapolate that experience to understand the science of management, then we management researchers should be venturing into organisations and observing the situation and recording the interactions.

Once we would record the interactions, we would be able to develop new theories and therefore advance our understanding of the world around us. Therefore, we welcome insightful research interviews with practitioners, articles written by practitioners that shed new light on management, and theories that help practitioners address their daily management concerns.

Admittedly, academic research has made significant contributions to our understanding of management and decision-making. However, in this current time of crisis, we are reminded that if we want to have real impact on society, we must open the channels of communication with practitioners to understand what is really going on while giving them an opportunity to be heard. Just as a famous African proverb goes, "If you want to run fast, run alone; if you want to run far, run together." The sooner we realise that we all stand much more to gain by working together, the sooner we can provide answers to today’s most pressing questions in management.

Dr. Wendy Chen is a Senior Associate Editor for the Management Decision journal leading the new “In Motion” initiative. She is an Assistant Professor at Texas Tech University in the US.