Monday, October 16, 2017

Are Business Professors Focusing on the "Right" kind of Research?

Research is an important contributor to business education that allows intellectuals to ponder over business problems and find meaningful solutions in a way that improves the economy. Institutions that support research and publish widely obtain benefits in the market related to brand image and academic quality. At most institutions, research is focused more on the pleasing of peers than actually contributing to societal change which limits the potential benefits that business schools can offer for innovative development.

We exist within a social network of business intellectuals that support research on topics deemed of interest. The most popular ideas of the time are given precedence over long-term discoveries that are years in the making but are typically more profound in outcome. The intellectuals ponder the popular "flavor" of the times at the expense of more profound and unique research.

Transformational ideas that create market adaptations take time and long-term focus. One could invent a new adaptation to existing products quickly or one could transform the market with more rudimentary research. Developing an application and inventing the Internet are two different things that require two kinds mental processes related to applied vs. theoretical research . One exists within a certain conceptual mind frame and the other creates a paradigm shift that can transform the market.

Tenure requirements also limit the ability to produce meaningful research when peer pressure over "acceptable" topics become a gateway issue.. Each university has its own requirements but typically after 7 years assistant-professors can search out opportunities for tenure based on research, service, and teaching. Depending on the committee and their beliefs professors can gain academic freedom by following popular opinion and research.

As universities ponder what type of research they fund and support through promotions, job assignments, and recognition they may want to take an active role in fostering short and long-term research. Cost and resources are always important but maximum societal benefit should be consideration in the overall analysis of where funds should be applied. Ensuring that some theoretical work makes its way into consideration can go a long way in helping universities maximize their contributions. Business will often push for product developments of their own but who will think up the ideas that have no immediate profit but create wider butterfly effect changes?

Permission to republish with appropriate attribute-Dr. Murad Abel

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