Are Practice-Based Approaches to Strategy Relevant to Practitioners? Implications of a Bourdieusian Perspective on the Relation between Management Research and Management Practice
University of Zurich Institute of Organization and Administrative Science Working Paper No. 107
40 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2011 Last revised: 4 Jan 2012
Date Written: April 7, 2010
It has variously been argued that by focussing on ‘what people do in relation to strategy’ strategy research would become relevant to practitioners. This paper puts forth the argument that the gap between strategy research and management practice cannot be resolved just by paying more attention to what strategists really do. Drawing on a Bourdieusian perspective we argue that practice-based scholars who put forward such a view might lack an awareness for their necessarily ‘scholastic view’. This leads to two related fallacies: the fallacy of epistemic doxa (i.e. the unawareness of the scholastic logic) and the fallacy of scholastic ethnocentrism (i.e. the projection of the scholastic logic into the object of research). As a consequence, such research is in danger of producing knowledge that might neither be practically relevant nor even contribute to the advancement of management science. In order to avoid these fallacies researchers need to develop a particular kind of reflexivity by engaging in so-called ‘participant objectivation’. Research based on this reflexivity also has greater chances of having an impact on management praxis as it is likely to resonate with the practical logic of the practitioners. Yet, the actual transformation of academic knowledge into practical knowledge has to be treated as the accomplishment of the practitioner, which is beyond the reach and control of the academic field.
Keywords: strategy as practice, practical relevance, rigour, Bourdieu, strategy
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