The academic non-consultation phenomenon revisited: a research agenda
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionLearning Organization. 2017, 24 (5), 312-326. 10.1108/TLO-05-2017-0046
Purpose The purpose of the present article is to revive interest in the question, never definitively answered, that Stephen Watson raised in the title of his 2000 paper “Why is it that management academics rarely advise on their own institutions?” We argue that finding the answer to the question would not only be interesting in and of itself but could also lead to valuable contributions to the theory of the learning organization. Design/methodology/approach Taking inspiration from Watson’s original article and a new interview we made with him in 2017, we discuss the possible explanations for why management academics rarely advise on their own institutions and set out an agenda for future research. Findings We suggest a simple three-way categorization of the nine hypotheses identified by Watson (2000), grouping them by the themes of management knowledge, motivation of HEI (higher education institution) managers, and incentives for academics to engage. We propose an integrated framework to illustrate how these three categories of hypotheses are connected and can jointly explain the observed phenomenon. We provide theoretical underpinnings for the most promising hypotheses and suggest an agenda for future research, emphasizing the potential of such research to contribute to the learning organization field. Research limitations/implications This article should not be interpreted primarily as an attempt to provide support for any particular hypothesis. Rather, our principal aim is to sketch out a future research agenda and inspire others to contribute empirical evidence that can help shed light on the paradox of why management academics rarely advise on their own institutions. Originality/value The theoretical contribution of this article is to revive the important research topic of “why management academics do not seem to be widely engaged in advising university managers” (Watson, 2000, p. 99) and to introduce a research agenda that can help realize the potential contribution of this topic to the learning organization literature. The practical contribution is to re-address the difficulties of HEIs in becoming full-fledged “learning organizations” and to suggest that HEI managers re-examine the possibilities for using hitherto untapped internal expertise.