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The contribution of academic scholarship to management development

Catharine Mary Ross (Worcester Business School, University of Worcester, Worcester, UK)
Laurie Robinson (Worcester Business School, University of Worcester, Worcester, UK)
Jan Francis-Smythe (Worcester Business School, University of Worcester, Worcester, UK)

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Article publication date: 13 April 2015



The purpose of this paper is to explore the impact of academic scholarship on the development and practice of experienced managers.


Semi-structured interviews with experienced managers, modelled on the critical incident technique. “Intertextuality” and framework analysis technique are used to examine whether the use of academic scholarship is a sub-conscious phenomenon.


Experienced managers make little direct use of academic scholarship, using it only occasionally to provide retrospective confirmation of decisions or a technique they can apply. However, academic scholarship informs their practice in an indirect way, their understanding of the “gist” of scholarship comprising one of many sources which they synthesise and evaluate as part of their development process.

Practical implications

Managers and management development practitioners should focus upon developing skills of synthesising the “gist” of academic scholarship with other sources of data, rather than upon the detailed remembering, understanding and application of specific scholarship, and upon finding/providing the time and space for that “gisting” and synthesis to take place.


The paper addresses contemporary concerns about the appropriateness of the material delivered on management education programmes for management development. It is original in doing this from the perspective of experienced managers, and in using intertextual analysis to reveal not only the direct but also the indirect uses of they make of such scholarship. The finding of the importance of understanding the “gist” rather than the detail of academic scholarship represents a key conceptual innovation.



Ross, C.M., Robinson, L. and Francis-Smythe, J. (2015), "The contribution of academic scholarship to management development", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 34 No. 3, pp. 286-298.



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