In professional academia, where you either publish or perish, finding examples of engaged scholarship is rare. By ‘engaged’ we mean experience-driven, problem-oriented, impactful. Last Friday, we had the privilege – as members of the OSC research group – to meet a community of scholars in Cambridge, MA, who care deeply about their work and impact – at the workshop “Africa in the 21st Century: Prospects for Secure Sustainable Development”. This event was organized by African PhD students of the UMB Global Governance and Human Security Program, and co-sponsored by Educational Divide Reform and the Academy of International Business US-Northeast Chapter.* This one-day workshop brought together PhD students and senior scholars of political science, business, sociology, health and environment to discuss pressing questions of peace and conflict, extraction of natural resources, and the future of business and development partnerships in Africa. Aside from showcasing the importance of research perspectives from Africa and the Global South, we were intrigued by the high level of involvement of presenters with their own research. Many experienced in their own lives the very conditions – poverty, discrimination, corruption – they are now studying and trying to change. What can we – scholars and students of organizations and business – learn from them and to what extent can their research be a role model for us? Let us give some individual thoughts and raise some questions going forward…
By Stephan Manning.
Here we go again: Ursula von der Leyen, Germany’s Minister of Defence, has become the latest target of VroniPlag* Wiki – an ongoing campaign against plagiarism in German doctoral theses, which has famously led to the downfall of several German, mostly conservative, politicians, including Annette Schavan (former German Minister of Education) and Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (former Minister of Defence). Since it started in 2011, the campaign has resulted in the revocation of 26 PhD titles obtained by politicians and other people of public interest. In fact, plagiarism in doctoral theses has become one of the major reasons for office-bearers in German governments to lose their jobs prematurely. How is that even possible? Who cares about plagiarism in dissertations anyway? Don’t we copy and paste all the time? And why care about plagiarism when nobody actually reads those dissertations to begin with?
By Stephan Manning.
How relevant is academic research for practice? How much real-world impact can or should scholars generate? What is the value of abstract theory especially in a highly practical field such as business and management? For years, scholars and journalists have debated these questions. Examples include articles by Nick Kristof in the New York Times on the need for more #engagedacademics, and by Joshua Rothman in The New Yorker on the ‘academic nature’ of academic writing. We also debated the under-utilized potential of academia in driving social change in a previous post on the OSC blog. In fact, there is a whole sub-discipline within management research entirely dedicated to better understanding the interaction between academia and practice. But what has been the outcome of this? Is research today more relevant than in the past? Can business scholars make a difference in the world?