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Enhancing the Practical Relevance of Research

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  • Michael W. Toffel

    () (Harvard Business School, Technology and Operations Management Unit)

Abstract

This article seeks to encourage scholars to conduct research that is more relevant to the decisions faced by managers and policymakers, and addresses why research relevance matters, what relevance means in terms of a journal article, and how scholars can increase the relevance of their research. I define relevant research papers as those whose research questions address problems found (or potentially found) in practice and whose hypotheses connect independent variables within the control of practitioners to outcomes they care about using logic they view as feasible. I provide several suggestions for how scholars can enhance research relevance, including engaging practitioners in on-campus encounters, at managerial conferences, and at crossover workshops; conducting site visits and practitioner interviews; working as a practitioner; and developing a practitioner advisory team. I describe several ways that scholars can convey relevant research insights to practitioners, including presenting at practitioner conferences, writing for practitioners in traditional crossover journals and in shorter pieces like op-eds and blogs, and attracting the interest of those who write columns, blogs, and articles about research for practitioners. I conclude by describing a few ways that academic institutions can encourage more relevant research, focusing on journals, professional societies, and doctoral programs.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael W. Toffel, 2016. "Enhancing the Practical Relevance of Research," Harvard Business School Working Papers 16-082, Harvard Business School, revised Mar 2016.
  • Handle: RePEc:hbs:wpaper:16-082
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Schwartz-Landsman, V., 2020. "A Chasm to Cross: From Research to Practice and Back," ERIM Inaugural Address Series Research in Management EIA 2020-081-MKT, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam..
    2. Stüve, David & van der Meer, Robert & Lütke Entrup, Matthias & Agha, Mouhamad Shaker Ali, 2020. "Supply chain planning in the food industry," Chapters from the Proceedings of the Hamburg International Conference of Logistics (HICL), in: Kersten, Wolfgang & Blecker, Thorsten & Ringle, Christian M. (ed.), Data Science and Innovation in Supply Chain Management: How Data Transforms the Value Chain. Proceedings of the Hamburg International Conference of Lo, volume 29, pages 317-353, Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH), Institute of Business Logistics and General Management.
    3. Erica Pimentel & Emilio Boulianne, 2020. "Blockchain in Accounting Research and Practice: Current Trends and Future Opportunities," Accounting Perspectives, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 19(4), pages 325-361, December.
    4. Kovacs, Gyöngyi & Moshtari, Mohammad, 2019. "A roadmap for higher research quality in humanitarian operations: A methodological perspective," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 276(2), pages 395-408.

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