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OM Forum : practice-based research in operations management: what it is, why do it, related challenges, and how to overcome them


Manufacturing & Service Operations Management


Management Science and Operations

Authors / Editors

Gallien J;Graves S C;Scheller-Wolf A

Publication Year



Practice-based research—research performed with the intent of improving the operation of a collaborating practitioner—is an important endeavor for our field: such work may reveal new problems, interesting phenomena, and may also generate data, educational material, and solutions to important practical problems. We argue that the practical relevance of any operations management (OM) research is driven by the two dimensions of generalizability and validity, which together offer a framework for contrasting the potential strengths and weaknesses of theory-based and practice-based research. We review challenges and strategies for successfully engaging in practice-based research, including: choosing a good problem; establishing and managing a relationship with a practitioner; validation; and impact estimation. Finally, we discuss possible ways to encourage more practice-based research in OM. In particular, we argue that our field should, in general, put more emphasis on research validity.


OM practice; Empirical research; experiments

Available on ECCH


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