Article by Adrian Alsop on BAM's relationship with ESRC and AIM

Adrian Alsop has thanked BAM for the opportunity to say a few words from ESRC on the special occasion of its 25th Anniversary. Also special as this Conference marks the last appearance of AIM research in its current form at the Conference. He also thanked BAM for working with ESRC and AIM to help secure its legacy, e.g. on communication and developing researchers.

Article by Adrain Alsop

In the course of establishing what became AIM, ESRC had used a presentation on the challenges facing management research. It is interesting to reflect on the continuities and changes since that presentation was prepared.

One continuity, all too seldom appreciated by outsiders, is that quality management research is really hard to do. Other areas have the benefit of controlled laboratory conditions or the ease of secondary use of data but while these too have their place in management research there is no substitute for the hard, time and skill intensive work of engaging business in the work of management research.

A second continuity but of a rather different order is that management researchers felt then under specific pressure of in Andrew Pettigrew’s phrase, the “double hurdle”. Now every area of social-and indeed natural science-in the UK is expected to contribute to the related concept of “excellence with impact” in the Research Councils and the Research Excellence Framework has a significant weighting for impact too. Can management make use of its longer exposure to the challenges involved?

A further continuity is the principle benefits of co-production of knowledge, again now well established as something ESRC expects in the wider community of social science where it can promote excellence with impact. We tend not to use all the language of “mode 2” that was around then but our interest in co-production is firmly established. This gives rise to a further continuity-the importance of transdisciplinarity. Management research has always been open to the contributions of a wide range of disciplines-psychology, sociology, anthropology for instance-and again this is in keeping with an ESRC that does not seek to foster discipline specific silos within social science.

A change since the earlier work was that back then there were some who hoped to establish a paradigm for management research that would enable a more even competition for resources with other disciplines. Economics was often mentioned-but for macro-economics at least the events of 2007/8 demonstrated the problem of a dominant paradigm.

A further continuity with those earlier times is the need to re-new management research in the face of a clear demographic challenge. Not everyone will agree with our Doctoral Training Centre policy but we have seen plenty of useful promised management pathways in the DTCs and trust institutions will indeed take these forward. We also are pleased to be taking forward the management development fellows and hope the community will be responding well to our new Future Research Leaders scheme.

Conclusion from all this-BAM is needed for at least the next 25 years! ESRC will want to continue to work with BAM not least to foster business engagement in quality research and to take forward the international dimensions of this area of research, especially but not only Brazil, India and China.

Heres to the next 25 years!

Adrian Alsop

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