Monday, May 11, 2009

Academicians vs Managers

Management is one of the most applied of all sciences. Its not a theoretical science. You would therefore expect that in this field there is the closest of cooperation between academicians and practitioners. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The two mutually loath each other although outwardly its all bonhomie

Managers think academicians are outdated, theoretical and of no use in the "real" world. They think what is taught at business schools is of little relevance to corporate life , even though they may have been from a business school themselves.

Academicians see practitioners as non cooperative, contributing little to the profession and certainly irrelevant to the academic world, except for allowing professors to write cases. They see them as something of an intellectual vacuum.

Interaction between the two is therefore largely restricted. Top notch professors sit on company Boards and do consulting, but the vast majority of academicians have retreated into their academic world and interact little with the business world. Similarly a few business leaders and some committed souls visit universities and give guest lectures, or cooperate in an academic endeavour, but the vast majority of managers would react with horror at the thought of spending a week in close proximity to a professor.

End result is that both lose.

The academic research that is done is often trivia and many publications are unreadable. Pick any PhD thesis and the average manager would probably not even understand the title. Does "Perceived Organizational Support and Organizational Commitment: The Mediational Influence of Psychological Well-Being " excite you to get up at 4 AM in the morning and read; this is an actual PhD title for example.

Managers have virtually gone obsolete and have forgotten management theory (read my last post). So you get Boards that don't understand credit default swaps leading the whole world down the tube.

In my view, no Professor should be allowed to continue in his role, if every 10 years, he hasn't worked one year in business. Actual work. Not consulting. Where he feels the responsibility in the pit of his stomach and the shit hits the ceiling every alternate day. And no manager must be allowed to keep his business degree if he hasn't gone back to university every 10 years and requalified.

The world of management is ill served by this tiff between academicians and practitioners. Just to prove this point, both sides, if they read it, will tell me that this piece is utter rubbish.