Engaged Scholarship – Is It Possible?

While reading this week’s collection of  Organizational Theory seminar articles on the topic of “Multilevel and Methodological Issues” I found some interesting insights for research design methods and applications. In the social sciences, specifically for organizational research, theoretical principles and empirical effects for organizational scholarship has been criticized for not being applicable in practice.

McKelvey (2006) describes the dichotomy of Van de Ven and Johnson’s (2006) “engaged scholarship” as being intellectual agreement to create practical and meaningful research. The difficulty with the collaborative process between research and practice include the issues of bias, disciplines, and particularization. McKelvey (2006) indicates that it is necessary for scholars to consider how to make a better model for business school research, deal with the knowledge transfer problem, manage knowledge production via engaged scholarship, and identify theory and practice as distinct functions. Organizational development and issues for practitioners. If the results of research cannot be applied, then what is the point?

Grant and Wall (2009) provided a few recommendations for scholars who are interested in gaining access to organizations for quasi-experimental research, specifically for how to open doors and encourage collaboration from organizational practitioners:

  1. Build long-term relationships with organizations and their employees.
  2. Disseminate findings from past research to practitioners.
  3. Highlight expected benefits of quasi-experimentation.
  4. Ask question to learn about what practitioners value.
  5. Highlight potential benefits to the researcher (i.e. you).
  6. Highlight common goals and unique expertise.
  7. Find the right contacts.
  8. Translate jargon into language comfortable to practitioners.
  9. If all else fails, start with observational field research.

In considering my current research areas of interest, it is important to identify where potential bias and limitations lie. As both practitioner and scholar in the field of higher education and learning, I think I can establish an effective partnership between the academic and application of research.  


Grant, A. M. & Wall, T. D. (2009) The Neglected Science and Art of Quasi-Experimentation: Why-to, When-to, and How-to Advice for Organizational Researchers. Organizational Research Methods, 12: 653-686.

McKelvey, B. (2006). Response: Van de Ven and Johnson’s “Engaged scholarship”: Nice try but…. Academy of Management Review, 31 (4): 822-829.

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