Executive summary of “Bridging the academia-practitioner divide: the case of ‘service theater’”

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 7 October 2014



(2014), "Executive summary of “Bridging the academia-practitioner divide: the case of ‘service theater’”", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 28 No. 7. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSM-09-2014-0304



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Executive summary of “Bridging the academia-practitioner divide: the case of ‘service theater’”

Article Type: Executive summary and implications for managers and executives From: Journal of Services Marketing, Volume 28, Issue 7

This summary has been provided to allow managers and executives a rapid appreciation of the content of the article. Those with a particular interest in the topic covered may then read the article in toto to take advantage of the more comprehensive description of the research undertaken and its results to get the full benefit of the material present.

Are you a marketing practitioner rather than an academic? If so you might have just disproved one of the points made in the article on which this review is based. For it says that some people believe that academic journals are unlikely to be read or understood by most practitioners because they are written in an “academic” style and even “managerial implications” sections, it claims, are often useless to practitioners.

But do not stop reading. In fact, settle comfortably in your seat and let the show begin. After all, effective knowledge transfer requires active audience engagement, activation of favorable audience emotions and an enjoyable learning process. So say Professor Aidan Daly et al. in “Bridging the academia-practitioner divide: the case of ‘Service Theater’”, in which they review principles of knowledge dissemination in theatrical performance. They explore how scholarly information can be made more practically relevant to business audiences as performance.

Given the extensive evidence that written forms of information dissemination may not be desirable to most practitioners, a particular form of face-to-face communication – the practitioner seminar – was evaluated using a theatrical lens to discern helpful guidelines for making academic findings understandable and relevant to practitioners. The authors explore how scholarly information can be made more practically relevant to business audiences through this particular form of knowledge dissemination. Stirring human emotions, the creativity of participants and aesthetic concerns are fundamental to the performing arts, but rarely considered in published academic information.

The design of a practitioner seminar should include rehearsal, program content, structure and accompanying tangibles. The potential seminar should increase the chances of information transfer occurring by:

  • keeping the program and message simple;

  • stressing the unexpected by using a variety of content and presentation styles;

  • remaining concrete and credible by emphasizing material relevant to the attendees;

  • engaging the attendees’ emotions; and

  • embracing stories by effective use of anecdotes.

Ultimately, such considerations will determine the optimal layout of the seminar rooms where the performance occurs and the opportunities for interactions between presenters and the audience and among the audience members.

The desire for coherent performance should guide the program structure. However, it is also important to consider other factors that have a direct effect on the performance itself. Examples of performance features that should be considered when planning a training seminar include:

  • Make greater use of audience involvement activities early in the seminar to create a collaborative mood (for example, an “improvisation” session with attendees and presenters working together could be used as an ice-breaker).

  • Make greater use of alternative forms of knowledge dissemination that go beyond PowerPoint slides (for example, relevant DVD/YouTube clips. This is especially important for transferring tacit knowledge).

  • Include a narrator who creates a dialogue among audience members that prompts creative thinking about how topics might be implemented in their organizations (the narrator could also explain how the hands-on exercises in the seminar can be applied in real world settings.).

  • Make greater use of tangible deliverables distributed to seminar participants (possibly attendee packs to take away, containing written summaries of key points and a DVD showing how the material might be used in practice).

By subjecting the practitioner seminar to a theatrical-based evaluation, issues pertaining to knowledge transfer, seminar design and seminar delivery emerge. Using a theatrical lens leads to several novel recommendations for enhancing the knowledge dissemination, such as using a practitioner narrator, attending to details of stage design, choosing a director and focusing on the intended effect on the audience. Recommendations for enhancing the effective delivery/transfer of seminar content include:

  • Engage attendees in academic discussions through different means of knowledge dissemination.

  • Include activities that allow attendees to actively participate in the training session.

  • Pay close attention to the “stage” design (academicians seldom have any input regarding the rooms where they present their work, yet theater directors carefully select rehearsal rooms, plan the staging of scenery, lighting, props and curtains.).

  • Display enthusiasm towards the audience and seminar content.

  • Designate a “staging” director (a director should be considered especially when multiple presenters are involved. One person designated to serve as a director could facilitate information dissemination in a cohesive way to a practitioner audience.).

The authors say:

We believe that successful and persuasive dissemination of academic information is an art. Knowledge transfer should be evaluated as performances. We are not advocating a Service Theater approach to all knowledge dissemination activities, but offer it as a means to move beyond the approach of the typical academic paper. Given the relevance of service activities and research to everyday human activities and to the majority of the working population in most countries, service researchers have greater reason to adopt the ideas presented in this article. After all, the dissemination of research findings is, in itself, a service.

To read the full article enter 10.1108/JSM-05-2013-0105 into your search engine.

(A précis of the article “Bridging the academia-practitioner divide: the case of ‘service theater’”. Supplied by Marketing Consultants for Emerald.)

Related articles