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The Theory–Practice Gap: Redefining Relevance

A Focused Issue on Building New Competences in Dynamic Environments

ISBN: 978-1-78441-275-3, eISBN: 978-1-78441-274-6

Publication date: 27 October 2014



This paper proposes to rethink the concepts of relevance and usefulness and their relation to the theory–practice gap in management research.


On the basis of the cognitive-linguistic relevance theory or inferential pragmatics, supplemented by insights from information science, we define relevance as a general conceptual category, while reserving usefulness for the instrumental application in a particular case.


There is no reason to hold onto the difference between theoretical and practical relevance, nor to distinguish between instrumental and conceptual relevance.


This novel approach will help to clarify the confusion in the field and contribute to a better understanding of the added value of management research.



Vermeylen, S. (2014), "The Theory–Practice Gap: Redefining Relevance", A Focused Issue on Building New Competences in Dynamic Environments (Research in Competence-Based Management, Vol. 7), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 271-335.



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