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Article
Publication date: 5 August 2014

Wolff-Michael Roth, Tim Mavin and Sidney Dekker

The purpose of this paper is to theorize the theory-practice gap and to provide examples of how it currently expresses itself and how it might be addressed to better…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to theorize the theory-practice gap and to provide examples of how it currently expresses itself and how it might be addressed to better integrate between the worlds of thought and praxis.

Design/methodology/approach

Two empirical examples exemplify how the theory-practice gap is an institutionally embodied social reality. Cultural-historical activity theory is described as a means for theorizing the inevitable gap. An example from the airline industry shows how the gap may be dealt with in, and integrated into, practice.

Findings

Cultural-historical activity theory suggests different forms of consciousness to exist in different activity systems because of the different object/motives in the world in which we think and the practical world in which we live. A brief case study of the efforts of one airline to integrate reflection on practice (i.e. theory) into their on-the-job training shows how the world in which pilots think about what they do is made part of the world in which pilots live.

Practical implications

First, in some cases, such as teacher education, institutional arrangements can be made to situate education/training in the workplace. Second, even in the training systems with high fidelity, high validity (transferability) cannot be guaranteed.

Originality/value

The approach proposed provides a theory not only for understanding the theory-practice gap but also the gap that exists even between very high-fidelity (“photo-realistic”) training situations and the real-world praxis full of surprises.

Details

Education + Training, vol. 56 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0040-0912

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Book part
Publication date: 27 October 2014

Simonne Vermeylen

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

Abstract

Purpose

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

Methodology/approach

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.

Findings

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

Originality/value

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.

Details

A Focused Issue on Building New Competences in Dynamic Environments
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-274-6

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 11 February 2019

Rachel Roegman and Sarah Woulfin

The purpose of this paper is to reconceptualize the theory-practice gap in educational leadership, not as a deficit, but as a necessity for legitimacy within institutional…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to reconceptualize the theory-practice gap in educational leadership, not as a deficit, but as a necessity for legitimacy within institutional contexts.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper draws on institutional theory to reframe the theory-practice gap, which is often seen as a deficit of leaders or preparation programs.

Findings

Three vignettes illustrate how aspiring and current educational leaders engage with theory and practice within specific contexts and in relation to specific aspects of leadership. Importantly, the vignettes show that when school leaders decouple theory from practice, they may be doing so to function as legitimate providers of K-12 educational leadership.

Research limitations/implications

The theory-practice gap, while often perceived as something negative, can have certain benefits within particular contexts. Scholars interested in the interconnections of theory and practice would benefit from considering why and how school leaders engage theory and practice.

Practical implications

Implications for leadership preparation programs highlight developing more complex views of the challenges that leaders face in tightly coupling theory and practice. To support future and current leaders, leadership preparation programs need to ensure that their students understand their institutional contexts and the reasons that leaders may decouple theory from action in various ways.

Originality/value

Instead of viewing the theory/practice gap as a deficit, this paper argues for a new way to consider why school leaders and leadership candidates may engage with theory and practice in different ways.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 57 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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Book part
Publication date: 20 October 2017

Basil P. Tucker and Matthew Leach

Purpose: The current study aims to cast light on the divide between academic research in management accounting and its applicability to practice by examining, from the…

Abstract

Purpose: The current study aims to cast light on the divide between academic research in management accounting and its applicability to practice by examining, from the standpoint of nursing, how this gap is perceived and what challenges may be involved in bridging it.

Design/Methodology/Approach: The current study compares the findings of Tucker and Parker (2014) with both quantitative as well as qualitative evidence from an international sample of nursing academics.

Findings: The findings of this study point to the differing tradition and historical development in framing and addressing the research–practice gap between management accounting and nursing contexts and the rationale for practice engagement as instrumental in explaining disciplinary differences in addressing the research–practice gap.

Research Implications Despite disciplinary differences, we suggest that a closer engagement of academic research in management accounting with practice “can work,” “will work,” and “is worth it.” Central to a closer relationship with practice, however, is the need for management accounting academics to follow their nursing counterparts and understand the incentives that exist in undertaking research of relevance.

Originality/value: The current study is one of the few that has sought to look to the experience of other disciplines in bridging the gap. Moreover, to our knowledge, it is the first study in management accounting to attempt this comparison. In so doing, our findings provide a platform for further considering how management accounting researchers, and management accounting as a discipline might, in the spirit of this study’s title, “Learn from the Experience of Others.”

Details

Advances in Management Accounting
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78743-297-0

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Article
Publication date: 21 November 2016

Farimah HakemZadeh and Vishwanath V. Baba

The purpose of this paper is to address the research-practice gap in management and advocate the need for an independent organization, called the evidence-based management…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to address the research-practice gap in management and advocate the need for an independent organization, called the evidence-based management (EBMgt) collaboration to facilitate generation and dissemination of knowledge that is rigorous, relevant, and actionable.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors use a theory-building approach to collaboration. They identify existing challenges in the research-practice gap literature and argue that EBMgt offers the most viable alternative to narrow this gap. They offer a theory of collaboration with supporting propositions that engages the generators, disseminators, and users of management knowledge in an ongoing sustainable collaboration toward EBMgt.

Findings

The authors envision evidence at the center of the EBMgt collaboration. They offer a process model of EBMgt incorporating a collaboration that ensures the fusion of rigor, relevance, and actionability of management knowledge toward the production of strong evidence that is of value to a decision maker. They suggest that the collaboration generate evidence in the form of a systematic review (SR) using a standard template and make it available online to management decision makers around the world in real time. They outline the parameters of the SR and offer details on the design of the Template.

Research limitations/implications

The theory of collaboration brings together various competing ideas and recommendations made over the past few decades to close the research-practice gap in management. The theory can be used as a guideline to establish and maintain the operation of an EBMgt collaboration.

Practical implications

The authors offer details on the format and content of a standardized SR along with a template to execute it. They believe it would appeal to a practicing manager to know the state-of-the-art knowledge that applies to a decision that he or she is about to make in real time.

Originality/value

The work provides a theoretical platform for the idea of EBMgt collaboration that was not available before. The authors add value to the research-practice gap literature by addressing critical concerns including the identification of relevant research questions, evaluating and grading evidence, fostering communication between researchers and practitioners, and translating research to practicing managers. The integration of research and organizational knowledge in the form of an SR that provides decision support to a practicing manager is of significant value to the profession. The conceptualization of the collaboration, not as a research method but as a separate social system that links key management knowledge stakeholders together adds originality to collaboration research.

Details

Management Decision, vol. 54 no. 10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

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Article
Publication date: 15 October 2008

Ross Brennan

The aim of this paper is to contribute to the debate about the existence and nature of a “gap” between theory and practice in management.

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to contribute to the debate about the existence and nature of a “gap” between theory and practice in management.

Design/methodology/approach

The putative theory/practicegap” in management is investigated by examining the theory/practice debate in three cognate fields–economics, nursing and marketing.

Findings

The relationship between theory and practice is actively debated in all three of the fields. In economics, criticism has been directed at the implicit ontological assumptions made in formal mathematical methods employed by orthodox neoclassical economists. In nursing the debate has centred on the practical issues associated with implementing evidence based practice; in particular identifying and seeking to overcome barriers to implementation. In marketing, managers find most academic theory difficult to read and irrelevant; this may be because the goals of academics and the goals of practitioners are different.

Research limitations/implications

Potentially fruitful topics for further research are identified at the pragmatic, epistemological and ontological levels.

Originality/value

The paper identifies lessons for the field of management research from economics, nursing and marketing. Each of these three areas provides a unique lens through which to view the research/practicegap” in management.

Details

European Business Review, vol. 20 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0955-534X

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Article
Publication date: 26 February 2014

Basil P. Tucker and Alan D. Lowe

The aim of this paper is to identify and gain insights into the significance of barriers contributing to the purported “gap” between academic management accounting…

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to identify and gain insights into the significance of barriers contributing to the purported “gap” between academic management accounting research and practice.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on diffusion of innovations theory, this study collects and analyses data from a questionnaire survey and follow-up interviews with 19 representatives of the four principal professional accounting bodies in Australia.

Findings

Professional accounting bodies perceive the gap between academic research and practice in management accounting to be of limited concern to practitioners. The two most significant barriers to research utilisation by practitioners are identified as: difficulties in understanding academic research papers; and limited access to research findings. In acting as a conduit between the worlds of academia and practice, professional bodies have an important role to play by demonstrating the mutual value to both academics and practitioners resulting from a closer engagement between MA research and practice.

Research limitations/implications

As one of the few empirically-based, theoretically informed investigations exploring the research-practice gap in management accounting, this study provides insights rather than “answers”. Its findings therefore serve as a foundational basis for further empirical and theoretical enquiry.

Originality/value

This study contributes to the conversation about the “research-practice gap” in management accounting by adopting a distinct theoretical vantage point to organize, analyse and interpret empirical evidence obtained from Australian professional accounting bodies about management accounting practice.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 27 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 14 August 2009

Michael I. Reed

The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview and evaluation of the “theory/practicegap in business and management research as it has been developed in relation to…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview and evaluation of the “theory/practicegap in business and management research as it has been developed in relation to US and European business and management schools.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper combines theoretical and institutional analysis to construct a framework for analyzing the “theory/practicegap and its wider implications.

Findings

The paper suggests that a “dialogical” rather than “linear” model of knowledge production and dissemination is the most analytically and practically useful way of approaching the “theory/practicegap in business and management research.

Originality/value

The paper reviews and updates the “theory/practicegap in business and management research and offers a more nuanced and realistic appreciation of how it might be resolved.

Details

Journal of Management Development, vol. 28 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0262-1711

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Article
Publication date: 3 September 2018

Katherine Leanne Christ, Roger L. Burritt, James Guthrie and Elaine Evans

The purpose of this paper is to understand the role of boundary-spanning organisations as intermediary institutions potentially able to close the gap between applied…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to understand the role of boundary-spanning organisations as intermediary institutions potentially able to close the gap between applied research and practice in sustainability accounting.

Design/methodology/approach

A review of the literature reveals that boundary organisation theory provides a potential way of understanding the role of boundary-spanning organisations in the context of the research–practice gap. The theory is applied in the context of three cases of potential boundary-spanning organisations involved with sustainability accounting – Chartered Accountants in Australia and New Zealand, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the International Federation of Accountants.

Findings

Findings from the three cases, which consider the application of boundary organisation theory, indicate the potential for professional accounting associations to act as sustainability accounting boundary-spanning organisations has not been realized for four main reasons. These relate to the need for finer granularity in relation to boundary objects and problem-solving; uncertainty about the range of parties to be involved as boundary-spanning organisations; the importance of reconciling views about different incentives for academics and practitioners in the sustainability accounting space; and the necessity for collaboration with other boundary-spanning organisations to address the transdisciplinary nature of sustainability accounting.

Practical implications

Development of a way of seeing the relationships between academics and practitioners in the context of sustainability accounting has two messages for practice and practitioners. First, with such complex and uncertain issues as sustainability accounting, a transdisciplinary approach to resolving problems is needed, one which involves practitioners as integral and equal members of research teams. The process should help bring applied academic and practitioner interests closer together. Second, it has to be recognised that academics conducting basic research do not seek to engage with practitioners, and for this group, the academic–practitioner gap will remain.

Social implications

Two main social implications emerge from the application of boundary organisation theory to analyse the academic–practitioner gap in the context of sustainability accounting. First, development of boundary organisations is important, as they can play a crucial role in bringing parties with an interest in sustainability accounting together in transdisciplinary teams to help solve sustainability problems. Second, collaboration is a foundation for success in the process of integrating applied researchers and practitioners, different disciplines which are relevant to solving sustainability problems and collaboration between different boundary spanning organisations with their own specialised foci.

Originality/value

This paper considers boundary organisation theory and the role of boundary-spanning organisations in the context of the complex transdisciplinary problems of sustainability accounting.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 9 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

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Article
Publication date: 21 March 2016

Basil P. Tucker and Stefan Schaltegger

The purpose of this paper is to compare and contrast perceptions about the research-practicegap” as it may apply within management accounting, from the perspective of…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to compare and contrast perceptions about the research-practicegap” as it may apply within management accounting, from the perspective of professional accounting bodies in Australia and Germany.

Design/methodology/approach

The findings reported in this paper is based on the collection and analysis of data from interviews with 19 senior representatives from four Australian Professional bodies and 14 representatives of German Professional accounting bodies.

Findings

In Australia and Germany, there exist common as well as unique barriers preventing a more effective engagement of academic research with practice. Common to both countries is the perception that the communication of research represents a major barrier. In Australia, practitioner access to academic research is seen to be a principal obstacle; in Germany, the relevance of topics researched by academics is perceived to represent a significant barrier to academic research informing practice.

Research limitations/implications

This paper directly engages with, and extends recent empirically based research into the extent to which academic research may “speak” to management accounting practice. It extricates both common and specific barriers contributing to the oft-quoted “research-practice gap” in management accounting, and points to the pivotal nature of an intermediary to act as a conduit between academics and practice.

Originality/value

By investigating this issue in two quite different cultural, educational, academic and practice contexts, this paper provides much-needed empirical evidence about the nature, extent and pervasiveness of the perceived research-practice gap in management accounting, and provides a basis for further investigation of this important topic.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 29 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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