Why Isn’t SCM Research More Relevant to SCM Practitioners?

“There’s a pervasive paradox in academia”, as Nobel (2016) writes in her recent article (Why Isn’t Business Research More Relevant to Business Practitioners?): “Research conducted at business schools often offers no obvious value to people who work in the world of business.” It seems that “working on relevant problems has little impact on faculty members’ academic success” and the ability to engage with practitioners is not evaluated by academic appointment committees. But what can be done to avoid a disconnect between academics and practitioners in SCM research? How can we be more relevant? One way could be that editors and reviewers routinely ask for research questions that are relevant to practitioners. That does not mean that our research should be “applied”. But it needs to be ensured that research is relevant to the decisions faced by policymakers, managers, and other stakeholders. Nobel’s article provides several ideas that could help SCM researchers to become more relevant.

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About Andreas Wieland

Andreas Wieland is an Associate Professor of Supply Chain Management at Copenhagen Business School. His current research interests include resilient and socially responsible supply chains.

3 responses to “Why Isn’t SCM Research More Relevant to SCM Practitioners?”

  1. Morten Brinch says :

    I like your post and agree with the issue presented. For me it seems that there are a larger emphasis on theoretical implications than of practical implications, that is, if you want to publish in high-ranked journals. That balanced needs to be reconfigured by journals, editors and reviewers to 50/50, where both theoretical advances and practical relevance are considered as equal importance.

  2. Marco Perona says :

    Dear Andreas, my father Giuseppe Perona was a professor of Haematology (bllod illnesses) at the University of Padova, and then Verona (Italy).

    He taught me that a good doctor and a good scientist must have both, tehoretical knowledge and the ability to deploy it in practice, with sick people. This is why he always has been both a full professor of his discipline AND the Director of a hospital Department.

    Theory can provide life-saving new therapies, or the ability to better and earlier diagnose deadly affections, while practice can supply empirical evidence, as well as help us to detect relevant and unresolved problems to be addressed by research.

    Another issue he used to suggest me was that when you work in hospital you don’t have to focuse on the illness, but on the person.

    Both these issues can apply to our work as well, and are addressed by your remark, that I 100% support:
    a). we have to both improve, deepen and anlarge theory, AND apply it in practice, working with real world companies and managers
    b). wehen working with a firm we don’t have just to address a problem (e.g. poor service level) but firstly try to summarize the firm’s big picture (market, competition, people, culture, ..).

    Thank you!

  3. Roberto A Martins says :

    I used to say to my students that nothing better than a practitioners who applies theory and a theorist who knows the practice

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