One hundred years ago, practitioners were the lead researchers seeking to improve production processes. Iconic developments such as the Toyota Production System emerged from the real-world challenges faced by these early scientists. Fast forward to today, and there is a growing concern that our research is losing touch with real-world practice. Toffel’s (2016) article, Enhancing the Practical Relevance of Research, provides an insightful critique of the current state of operations (and supply chain) management research. In it, the author emphasizes that research should address real problems and offer solutions that practitioners can implement. The author suggests ways to bridge the gap between academia and practice: engaging with practitioners, site visits, working as a practitioner, and even forming consulting teams of practitioners. But making research relevant is not enough. Scholars must also ensure that their findings reach the right audience. The article calls on academic institutions – from journals to doctoral programs – to prioritize relevance alongside rigor.
Toffel, M.W. (2016). Enhancing the Practical Relevance of Research. Production and Operations Management, 25(9), 1493-1505. https://doi.org/10.1111/poms.12558