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Saturday, 01 July 2006

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» orgtheory.net @ deanstalk.net from orgtheory.net
Teppo Santiago Iniguez (Dean of Instituto de Empresa Business School), at www.DeansTalk.net in part disagrees with my previous post on adjunct/practitioner teaching. See his post and associated comments here. You can find my brief response here. The ... [Read More]

» knowledge, knowledge, and veriphobia from orgtheory.net
Teppo Santiago Iniguez kindly responds at deantalk.net to previous posts (go here for an update) in a write-up titled The multifarious sources of management knowledge. The epistemological and philosophy of science-related matters underlyi... [Read More]

Comments

Enrique Dans

Great and inspirational post. The "attached vs. detached" approach is great to explain what's going on in business schools, and the tensions generated from a professors' rewarding system clearly inherited from the university and based on the "publish or perish" principle. For me, the discussion is related to the concept of "isomorphism" (DiMaggio and Powell, 1983): institutions tend to progressively resemble their normative environment with time, and thus, business schools tend to progressively resemble their host universities. In some institutions, you can see the business school separated from the university by a river. Was that originally due to real estate reasons, or perhaps trying to escape the influence as much as they can?... :-)

Should business schools look like universities? I seriously doubt it. In my humble opinion, I believe students don't want that. Universities and business schools are different, different species, and originally thought for different moments in life. And last but not least, being a business school professor, I know I have powerful reasons for which I don't want to resemble the average university professor (with all due respect).

teppof

Thanks for continuing this conversation.

Let me briefly defend the Ivory Tower. I think 'basic research' even in a fairly applied (a contradiction?) discipline such as management is absolutely critical. It is important for scholars to have a place to detach themselves from daily business/practical concerns and to think about bigger theoretical questions. This process in fact may not readily translate into immediate 'best practices,' thus I was not surprised to read about your encounter with the faculty candidate (though he perhaps chose to frame things rather poorly). The work of theory-building and scientific analysis is a systematic and rigorous approach to questions, quite separate from isolated anecdotal stories of business success and experience (which is what you find in most business bestsellers and in some adjunct teaching). Underlying all of this, there is of course a deeper epistemological question as to how we gain knowledge - your arguments seem to suggest a more 'grounded approach' (which does have its place), while I would emphasize the need for careful and systematic theoretical thinking - something that practical business experience may not give you (but hopefully a PhD does).

I was surprised to see the following in your post:

"I also believe that those practitioners that undergo the necessary preparation for teaching are at least as good potential docents as academics."

I think practitioners bring an important element to b-schools, and often are highly sought-after and successful teachers, but again (http://orgtheory.wordpress.com/2006/06/24/become-a-business-professor-in-five-days/), I think some caution here is warranted. Being sought-after and highly-rated by students does not, by any means, translate into effective teaching. If students are simply relayed war stories and anecdotal experiences, they miss out on understanding theoretical and scientific fundamentals related to management. There is in fact significant suspicion among some adjuncts and experienced business professionals regarding what it specifically is that research faculty do – i.e. research. Thus adjunct and practitioner teaching may also reflect this disdain (nothing theoretical gets taught), and students get short-changed in their education.

Cutting-edge research still is the currency of b-schools, and should continue to be so.

Richard Edelstein, Principal, Global Learning Networks

In the real world there is no pure form of the ideal professor in a professional school. Both practice and theory are required elements of successful learning for professional life. Both academics and practitioners have a place assuming they are effective in the classroom. Fortunately there are some individuals who because of a powerful intellect and an ease with people can effective in a variety of contexts. The real problem lies elsewhere. Can business schools and universities create effective "learning communities" which draw on the strengths of a variety of individuals with diverse backgrounds.

teppof

Below a few lines in response to Enrique Dans' comment regarding b-schools and universities:

"Should business schools look like universities? I seriously doubt it. In my humble opinion, I believe students don’t want that. Universities and business schools are different, different species, and originally thought for different moments in life. And last but not least, being a business school professor, I know I have powerful reasons for which I don’t want to resemble the average university professor (with all due respect)."

I am not sure why there is a need to differentiate between b-schools and universities. I suppose no one wants to “resemble the average university professor” if something derogatory is meant by that, but on the whole there is brilliant teaching across all the university disciplines. In fact, b-schools should incorporate the best of what universities have to offer - the rigors of engineering, the theoretical grounding of the social sciences, the breadth of the liberal arts, and so forth. If one wants to get away from this, there are of course many technical and vocational schools vying for students and professors.

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