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Relevance gap in business school research: which academic papers are cited in managerial bridge journals?


Academy of Management Learning and Education


Marketing, Strategy and Entrepreneurship

Publishing details

Academy of Management Learning and Education 2016 Vol 15:4 p 686-702

Authors / Editors

Birkinshaw J M;Lecuona R;Barwise P

Publication Year



The much-discussed “relevance gap” (Starkey & Madan, 2001) between research and practice in management is a major source of concern for business schools, in terms of their legitimacy in the eyes of students, employers, and funding bodies. We frame the relevance gap as a knowledge-transfer issue, focusing on the role of “bridging media” as one mechanism through which academic research is made accessible to practicing managers. Specifically, we ask two questions: (1) Which academic research is selected for dissemination by bridging media? And (2) How can we develop better ways of measuring this type of bridging activity? Through a preliminary empirical analysis (of the citation trails from 264 academic papers to bridge journals such as Sloan Management Review), we find that academic papers cited in bridge journals: (1) also have a high academic impact factor; (2) draw on and/or contribute to a broad body of literature; (3) are more likely to be inductive or theoretical than deductive; and (4) are on topics rated by practitioners as “interesting.” We also discuss how our methodology could be extended to contribute to Aguinis et al.’ s (2014) pluralist conceptualization of scholarly impact.

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