Tuesday, 18 December 2012

How can Academic Research help Practice?


academic research.jpg  One of the sessions at Monday's Engage for Success conference focused on the links between academia and practitioners.  Or rather I thought it was going to do so.  Actually, it provided three different academic inputs on different aspects of engagement (the definition, SMEs and MNCs) but didn't really address the linkage between academics and practitioners, which I do think needs to be addressed.  So...

Actually I guess the issue was addressed to an extent, but - even to that limited extent - only from the perspective of the way academic research needs to be informed by what's of interest to practitioners.  Which yes, it does.

But what about the other way around?  That's the biggest question to me - how does practice get informed by academia?

I worry about how limited HR's knowledge and understanding of academic research and insight often is.  (And how the word 'academic' is used as a criticism of new insight.)

It's why I struggle when its suggested that unknown academics are our most influential.

So one of the things the CIPD's Peter Cheese talked about later on in th was Dan Pink's book Drive.  The CIPD are going to run some masterclasses on this, which is great.  But actually the book was published in 2009, written in 2008, and based on research conducted over the previous couple of decades.  We've got to get both better and quicker at this.

To me, although both academics and practitioners play a part, it's the groups that fit between these two which are probably going to be most important in closing the gap - this includes consultants and suppliers, analysts who help practitioners navigate that market, and bloggers and tweeters and obviously more traditional journalists too.

I think a session with practitioners, academics and these other groups as well would have been a whole lot more entertaining, and more insightful as well.


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