Management Scholars and the Media

3 August 2012 at 8:52 pm 4 comments

| Peter Klein |

Reporting today from the Academy of Management meetingin Boston. Too many interesting sessions to list them all. Today I attended a very good Professional Development Workshop on the opportunity-discovery perspective in entrepreneurship studies, organized by Henrik Berglund, Steffen Korsgaard, and Kåre Moberg and featuring Bill Gartner, Per Davidsson, and others. Lots of discussion of “discovery opportunities” and “creation opportunities,” and even my own case for dropping the concept of opportunities altogether.

Then, a PDW session called “Engaging the Media: Equipping Management Faculty to Share Their Knowledge More Effectively” featuring me, Jay Barney, Ron Mitchell, Maria Minniti, Mike Lenox, and Scott Kirsner, an ambassador from the world of journalism. I gave the blogger’s perspective, arguing for this medium as an effective way of sharing research results and informed opinion with students, journalists, policymakers, and the lay public. I also shared some practical tips borrowed from Mike Munger.

During the session there was a lot of discussion of economics, and how economists have been much more successful than management scholars at engaging the media. I argued that this has less to do with technique than with substance — economists have a long history of involvement with key social and policy issues of interest to journalists. But there are pitfalls to such a cozy relationship. The desire for relevance and influence can lead to compromise on rigor and and a loss of independence (Exhibit A). Management scholarship is already prone to faddishness and buzzwords, and a closer engagement with the media could exacerbate those unfortunate trends.

But, a question near and dear to our hearts here at O&M: Why are there so few academic blogs devoted to management and organizational scholarship? Economics and law have many influential academic blogs. Management has just a handful (most linked from our sidebar). When I talk to  management colleagues about blogging, manyt are reluctant. Will I have something to say? How much time will it take? Will it hurt my academic reputation? Economists don’t seem too worried about these. In part, the difference may be due to core theories and approaches. A little economic theory goes a long way in addressing social and policy issues, and most economists feel comfortable talking about current events without deep knowledge of the specifics. “It involves a price control? Well, let me tell you how that will play out…” Management scholarship is far more eclectic and often calls for deeper knowledge of the concrete phenomena at hand. Is this the most important difference? Or are there other reasons why management scholars don’t blog?

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Conferences, Institutions. Tags: .

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Steve Phelan  |  3 August 2012 at 9:34 pm

    Perhaps there are few incentives to have a public persona because there are few public positions outside academia for management scholars, particularly when compared with economics.

  • 2. Ryan Langrill  |  3 August 2012 at 11:40 pm

    Perhaps the necessity of knowing the ‘more concrete phenomena at hand’ carries with it asset specificity, and like all specific assets there’s a tendency to internalize the knowledge within a firm. Knowledge of narrow phenomena can be better internalized–perhaps there is not more economics research, but more publicly observable research, while firms can internalize management research much more effectively.

    Just a random guess.

  • 3. Peter St. Onge (@ptrstonge)  |  4 August 2012 at 12:32 am

    My (naive) assumption would have been the opposite of Steve’s; I’d guess management scholars are in-demand as consultants, whereas there are few relatively fewer “policy consultant” jobs in economics. Hence anybody with something to say in management charges for bespoke advice, while economists are reduced to the soapbox.

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