Saturday, March 5, 2011

Convergence - Next Practice in Management Research

By Dr. Suhaib Riaz.

There is an interesting problem increasingly visible across the real business world, if only we can find time to look beyond the closed world of traditional academic journals focused on specific academic disciplines and fields: most real business issues can only be tackled through multi-disciplinary approaches. Sustainability research is incomplete without considering International Business issues. International Business cannot ignore Sustainability issues. Strategic Management cannot ignore International Business and Sustainability. And all these are incomplete if Entrepreneurship is not part of the picture...and so on.

Weak signals of this convergence are already here. Strategic Management Society, publishers of the mainstream Strategic Management Journal (SMJ) since 1980, started to publish Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal (SEJ) just a few years ago in 2007, and are now launching Global Strategy Journal (GSJ) in 2011. Even in the traditional management journals, there have been works on fields such as “international entrepreneurship” for a few years now. Recently, there have been increasing calls for papers and attention to new areas such as, say, social entrepreneurship, which often involves entrepreneurship, sustainability, international issues and more. In fact, there are conversations even amongst the disciplinary roots of management, such as between sociology and economics leading to the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE), founded not too long ago in 1989. 

From these weak signals, at least one Next Practice can be clearly identified: Convergence. Those journals, departments, faculties and schools that break down silos or at least create bridges across silos, will have something important and meaningful to say to the practice unfolding in a very cross-disciplinary manner. Some that already follow this principle might have an advantage that they should leverage. Those that stick to the silos with the goal of promoting narrow academic disciplines will become increasingly irrelevant to practice, thus widening the gap between relevance and academia in management that is already a major concern.

I wonder how many of us will have the courage to embrace the cross-disciplinary world and how many of us will stay confined to, and defend, our narrow turfs...

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