Challenging Proposals from European Scholars
Edited by Stephanie Dameron and Thomas Durand
Chapter 7: Relevance and Irrelevance of Management Research: Some European Hope
7. Relevance and irrelevance of management research: some European hope1 Peter McKiernan2 7.1 INTRODUCTION Management research may have lost its relevance. Pfeffer’s3 rhetoric, though controversial, may contain some grains of truth. Briefly, he asserts that: management scholarship has (a) lost contact with the real issues facing the main audiences that it is meant to serve (primarily business practitioners, their consultants, policy-makers and generally anyone who is interested in aspects of how business organizations are, or should be, organized and managed), (b) lost the (always relatively modest) interest it once had in the social implications of managerial decisions and actions, and (c) reached such a deep degree of institutionalization that it is becoming enormously difficult to change the established norms and remedy this situation. (Zollo 2009) Pfeffer’s plea for regaining relevance may be easier to accomplish in Europe than in the United States. History and progress have made Europe a different place, where rich but different scholastic antecedents have produced an eclectic array of research approaches in a multicultural setting. But such heterogeneity is in danger of dilution by powerful US research hegemony unless individual and concerted action is taken soon. This thesis offers some hope for a distinctive European response once we have digested quite what the concept of relevance is and whether the accusation of ‘irrelevance’ is either true or important. 7.2 PFEFFER’S THESIS AS SYSTEM BALANCING The evolution of modern management has been slow but very successful. Management and business schools flourish, even in recession, as inter138 DAMERON...
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