Mind the gap…

Interesting piece that the theory-practice gap arises from tensions within academia…


“What about this topic is attracting so much attention? And what is significant about the attention it is getting? Many of the articles suggest reasons for the gap. One reason is that the ways academics and practitioners think about many issues is very different. A second is that academics’ time horizons are much longer than practitioners; while practitioners often need to make decisions quickly, academic research typically takes a much longer time.  Yet another is that academics and practitioners use different types of communication styles; the language in academic articles often isn’t very readable by practitioners. Next, while some groups of academics advocate strongly that in order to be rigorous, research cannot be relevant, other academics counter that rigor and relevance are very compatible.  Finally, academia and management practice often have different incentives. Publishing a scholarly article is more of an incentive for an academic than a practitioner, while solving a particularly crucial business problem is more of an incentive to a practitioner. …

We believe that the gap is actually a surface manifestation of deep tensions that are present among academics.  We noted earlier that there is often conflict about the gap between particular academic tribes.  These tribes are scholarly communities for academics, and one of the ways the academics signal their belonging in their tribe is in their claims about the gap and what should be done.  Thus, discussion of the gap often signals underlying tensions about how much and where particular academics feel they belong or not.  It also signals ongoing underlying tensions about performance, due to frequent disagreements between academic tribes regarding what the focus of scholarly work should be.”


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