EMSS PURPOSE and CONTRIBUTION
The Engaged Management Scholars Society (EMSS) is an academic association registered in Paris under the laws of the French Republic. The purpose of EMSS is to conduct scientific research on the evaluation of DBAs and practice-based doctoral programs. The outcomes of this research include the development of a unique evaluation methodology relying on principles published in management research at the worldwide level. EMSS intends to conduct international conferences leading to the creation of an academic community carrying on an accreditation system for these practice-based doctorate programs.
EMSS is a response to the call for relevance described in leading academic journals in management such as the Academy of Management Learning and Education (AMLE) the Academy of Management Journal (AMJ) and the Academy of Managment Review (AMR). Such a call is related to the “crisis of business schools” visible through the two main programs taught in business schools : MBA and Ph.D. MBA programs in the USA are criticized for promoting « bad management theories” that are “destroying good management practices” (Ghoshal, 2005, p. 1). The main problems related to MBA programs include the dominance of finance and economics, a fragmentation between management functional disciplines, a fragmentation between departments in companies, a lack of soft skills and a disconnection with practice. Mintzberg recommends a radical change of the MBA programs in the USA toward a practice-based approach in order to create “managers, not MBAs” (Mintzberg, 2015). On the other hand, Ph.D. programs in management are also widening the gap between theory and practice. The tenure for academics in business schools depends on their publications in journals that are not oriented toward solving real problems in companies, but only oriented toward a scientificity that is discipline-specific. Ph.D. programs focus on rigor at the cost of the sacrifice of relevance.
Therefore, the purpose of EMSS is to focus on programs aimed to bridge the gap betwen theory and practice. DBAs and practice-based doctoral programs focus on practical knowledge rather than theoretical knowledge. They are oriented toward problem solving. Rather than the theoretical knowledge produced by disciplines that has little or no relevance to managers, the practical knowledge is indicating the way to relevance. The acronym “EMSS” is referring to the wording “engaged management scholarship" that was introduced in AMR by Van de Ven and Johnson (2006). This concept was related to the design of research projects focusing on real business problems. However, the way to bridge this practice-theory gap included later on additional approaches that went beyond these initial principles, such as the reversed knowledge value chain, boundary spanning, evidence-based management and alternative research methods.
EMSS promotes the involvement of practitioners in practice-based doctorate programs through a reversed knowledge value chain. Knowledge is not any more considered to be produced by academics and then diffused through education and training towards managers. On the contrary, practical knowledge is produced by the managers themselves with the help of academics through co-production. For EMSS, in DBAs, the practical knowledge produced by the managers should be formalized by the managers themselves with the help of academics. As DBA students are at the same time executives in companies, they have the potential of becoming boundary spanners, people who have the courage to treat both practitioners and academic as valuable and therefore consciously move back and forth between research and practice. EMSS also promotes Evidence Based Management (EBM). Originally coming out of the field of medicine, EBM has been defined as making decisions through the use of the best available evidence from multiple sources. Applied to management, EBM means translating principles based on best evidence into management practices. Managers have the potential to move from personal preference and unsystematic experience toward principles based on the scientific evidence. Beyond EBM, EMSS intends to promote research methods that were suggested to produce more relevant research by editors of the AMJ. They include qualitative research methods such as case studies, grounded theory and action research. A future research method may also be intervention research.
Rather than considering academic researchers at the main producer of knowledge, EMSS considers practitioner empowerment as the key for increasing the impact of management research. Managers are in better position than academics for the diffusion of knowledge. These initiatives are part of a growing body of alternative metrics that are being employed to account for management research impact. For EMSS, impactful research needs to be corroborated through testimonies that managers and different stakeholders are prepared to provide as evidence of how management research made a difference. Practitioner empowerment implies not only that managers are the source of practical knowledge that is formalized and published, but also to considers managers as the main source of knowledge sharing through co-creation platforms gathering managers and academics beyond the boundaries of disciplines, beyond the boundaries of countries.