Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Bridging Academia and Businesses to Make Positive Impacts on Society

Research in the management sciences, from organizational behavior to information systems and public administration, has the potential to play a critical role in informing change in our societies. However, much of the potential for change is ever realized – sufficient research is not conducted in areas of importance to our global society (e.g. improvements to healthcare systems in third-world nations), research is not published in a timely manner (e.g. mainstream information systems journal are notorious for publishing articles that are on average three years out-dated), research is not accessible to global audiences (e.g. most journals still only publish in English), research projects are geared to the needs of funding agencies(hence, most research is centered on the needs of developed nations), promotion and tenure decisions dominate academic creativity and zeal (hence, research that fits established norms and incentive systems is encouraged at the expense of studying difficult problems that may not be easily publishable), and finally the metrics for measuring research impact are academia-centered (e.g. citation analysis), and not society-oriented (e.g. improvements of the quality of life, change in society). In very rare cases, business school academics make a significant and measurable impact on society.

Businesses, on the other hand, continue to make impacts on our societies. After all, they are responsible for providing individuals with a source of livelihood, stimulation through work, and even a sense of achievement through the attainment of professional ranks. While these positives are critical and even recognizing that businesses are a mainstay of our society, we must not ignore the negatives. Businesses have shaped societies into those that are materialistically-oriented – environments where what you own is given as much, if not more, signification as who one is. In addition, the automation of work through the use of technologies has made the lives of many low-skilled workers very difficult and tiring. Even more critical, is the fact that natural resources of the under-developed nations have been exploited towards commercial ends, without consummate repayments to develop these nations.

Hence, an important question for debate is how might academia and industry engage in collaborations so as to enable for positive changes to our societies. To this end, there are three issues that must be addressed. First, is to change the nature of research conducted in the management sciences. Second, to change the outlook
of business on research conducted at business schools. Businesses must appreciate the fact that academia represents a viable medium by which they can make positive and measurable impacts on societies. Third and probably most importantly, is to change the mediums of engagements between academia and business.

I am working on an article on this topic...Feel free to send me any suggestions/inputs/critiques/etc...

No comments: