What would it take to achieve Vision 2030? The following seven principles, with the first three and the seventh aiming primarily to improve the usefulness and the fourth to the sixth aiming primarily to improve the credibility of knowledge, can guide business and management research to build a sound body of knowledge that serves society.
- Principle 1—Service to Society: Business research aims to develop knowledge that benefits business and the broader society, locally and globally, for the ultimate purpose of creating a better world. Implication: The aim of research is to systematize knowledge of best practices, past and current, and to shape the future by creating knowledge based on emerging scenarios. Innovative research can inform future practice. Business research serves a critical social function by observing the blind spots and potential downsides of the business world. Business education does not focus only on knowledge of the past, but also knowledge, skills, and values relevant to both managing in the current context and dealing with emerging changes.
- Principle 2—Stakeholder Involvement: Business and management research values the involvement of different stakeholders who can play a critical role at various stages of the scientific process, without compromising the independence of inquiry. Implication: The research ecosystem consists of many participants including the researchers as the producers of knowledge, journal editors, tenure and promotion committee members, school leadership, directors of Ph.D. programs, accreditation agencies, funding organizations, ranking publishers, and business leaders and students as beneficiaries of knowledge. The broader society also has a stake in business research. Business and management schools can benefit from “co-creation” of knowledge with all types of organizations (businesses, NGOs, trade unions, governments, industry associations, social enterprises, customers, and consumers). However, academic integrity and independence require that research not be “captured” or reported findings influenced by vested interests.
- Principle 3—Impact on Stakeholders: Business and management schools, funders, and accrediting agencies acknowledge and reward research that has an impact on diverse stakeholders, especially research that contributes to better business and a better world. Implication: Business and management schools recognize that the publication itself is not the outcome or the end goal, but a step in the journey to scholarly and/or societal impact. Assessing influence may require multiple papers, dissemination of findings to non-academic circles, and tracking whether companies, communities or policy makers benefit from this program of research. Impact also includes the teaching of the findings from evidence-based responsible science in undergraduate, masters, doctoral, and executive education programs. Promotion and tenure requirements reflect this requirement to institutionalize research’s positive influence on society.
- Principle 4—Valuing Both Basic and Applied Contributions: Business school deans, journal editors, funders, accrediting agencies, and other stakeholders respect and recognize contributions in both theoretical and applied research. Implication: Theories are important to guide our collective understandings and to explain empirical patterns that defy common sense. Applied research aims to analyze management practices such as incentive systems and governance (economics, finance, management), consumer and firm behavior (marketing, strategy), or customer service and supply chain (marketing, operations, information systems). Integrating theory- and practice-led problems in business research will both contribute to basic knowledge development and enhance its applied utility for stakeholders who support this research.
- Principle 5—Valuing Plurality and Multidisciplinary Collaboration: Business school deans, senior leadership, journal editors, funders, and accreditation agencies value diversity in research themes, methods, forms of scholarship, types of inquiry, and interdisciplinary collaboration to reflect the plurality and complexity of business and societal problems. Implication: Business and management research supports pluralism in its theories, grounded in different assumptions about human nature, multiple perspectives, and alternative models of business and its role in society. Rich in-depth ethnographic studies of corporate practices yielding reflective and imaginative thinking that contribute to new theorizing are as valuable as quantitative or experimental studies. In the global context, business and management research values both “global” and “local” knowledge development. Stakeholders value interdisciplinary research, both within business disciplines and across other social science disciplines as well as engineering, medicine, education, or humanities. Interdisciplinary research has the potential to provide new understandings of business due to complementarities between disparate disciplines.
- Principle 6—Sound Methodology: Business research implements sound scientific methods and processes in both quantitative and qualitative or both theoretical and empirical domains. Implication: The robustness of empirical work in business research takes into account emerging practices in good science. For example, research practices that value replication, falsification of theory, and reproducibility are encouraged. Journals and professional societies adopt open science practices such as data, materials, and code repositories, and transparency of sample construction and measures. Similar expectations apply to in-depth, ethnographic field studies and lab and field experiments. The expectation of data transparency might reduce the volume of studies generated, but could improve the quality and comprehensiveness of studies by discouraging data slicing and other questionable practices. Mathematical models are calibrated using real data and assumptions are ultimately validated using empirical evidence.
- Principle 7—Broad Dissemination: Business and management schools value diverse forms of knowledge dissemination that collectively advance basic knowledge and practice. Implication: The digitization of the global economy has suggested new forms of dissemination of research findings, including online, open source and open access publishing. Business schools have opportunities to improve the visibility of ongoing research through creative publishing and dissemination methods, as well as drawing insights in simple and powerful ways to influence the target audience and non-academic stakeholder communities. At the same time, we reaffirm the centrality of rigorous peer review of research for building and disseminating credible knowledge.