The publication of the Starkey and Madan (2001) report represents a timely and valuable contribution to an ongoing debate across a range of applied disciplines, concerning the nature and purpose of social research. The call for stakeholder alignment, culminating in the production of new knowledge that is both theoretically and methodologically rigorous on the one hand, and socially relevant on the other, is, in our view, to be greatly welcomed. However, the Mode 2 approach advocated by Starkey and Madan will not satisfy these fundamental requirements. Drawing on recent analyses of the nature, causes and consequences of the academic‐practitioner divide in the subfield of industrial, work and organizational psychology, we offer an alternative, four‐fold taxonomy of the varieties of managerial knowledge. Within our alternative framework, research that is low on rigour but high on relevance (a likely consequence of the wholesale adoption of a Mode 2 approach) is characterized as ‘Popularist Science’. ‘Pedantic Science’, by contrast, is high on rigour but low on relevance, while ‘Puerile Science’ meets neither requirement. Only ‘Pragmatic Science’ will meet the twin imperatives of rigour and relevance. Whilst it is highly desirable that Pragmatic Science should dominate the management field, there are considerable barriers that impede its widespread adoption at the present time, not least the limited availability of researchers who possess the requisite sociopolitical and methodological competencies. The immediate imperative that has to be addressed, therefore, is the question of how best to close this competency gap, a fundamental precondition of stakeholder realignment.
British Journal of Management – Wiley
Published: Dec 1, 2001
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