BAM2011 Workshop Report: ‘Impact through Practice: How to Benefit from the CMI Top Management Articles Initiative’

On 14 September, 14.00-15.30, at Aston University the BAM2011 conference hosted a session on how to benefit from the CMI Top Management Articles Initiative. Chaired by Jacky Holloway, the event attracted around 20 participants. The activities comprised of the following:

  1. A presentation about the initiative by Piers Cain (CMI) followed by questions
  2. Reflections on how it had progressed from a partner’s viewpoint, from Robin Wensley, AIM (and member of CMI Academic Advisory Council)
  3. Feedback from Gillian Symon (Birkbeck) and Stefanie Reissner (Newcastle University), from perspective of contributors of papers to TMAI
  4. Discussions in three groups, loosely in response to the questions ‘What are we doing that could be of interest to CMI members? and ‘What could BAM and CMI do to raise the profile and impact of the scheme?’
  5. Feedback of key points from group discussions.

These notes capture the most significant queries and discussion points which could assist CMI, BAM and other partners to develop the scheme itself and how it is promoted.
 

1. Questions / comments to Piers following presentation [answers in parentheses]

Is there an identifiable ‘knowledge deficit’ that the scheme might fill? [Not as such; but data exist about popular topics searched for by CMI members, which have been reviewed with AIM. Big policy questions are probably out of scope.]

Can authors tell the backgrounds / job titles of reviewers? [No. CMI hold data in CRM system.]

Can authors revise articles in light of comments, and re-load updated versions? [Under discussion, seen as potentially desirable. Stable version of paper will be required for entry to competitive stage.]

Have first set of contributions been commissioned specially for the initiative? [No, mixture of sources although some by well known authors were written specifically for the scheme.]

How long will papers stay on the system and available for comment? [Timescale for removing less well-received papers is still to be decided.]
 

2. Gillian Symon’s reflections

Gillian has a co-authored submission waiting to go into the second ‘round’ of articles drawing on interview-based research about the impact of smart phones on communications, knowledge management etc within organisations. The article is based on the report prepared for the company involved in the research, rather than academic papers. She felt it would be of interest to practitioners via CMI scheme because:

  • The findings are relevant to managers as users of smart phones;
  • It has already attracted media interest and could gain more publicity this way
  • The knowledge is of value to other organisations (and there is a blog which may interest managers)
  • More research is being undertaken and CMI members may be willing to participate.
     

3. Robin Wensley’s reflections

AIM was interested in being involved with the initiative because:

  • It was innovative
  • There would be very little censorship!
  • It would enable outputs from UK research to gain relatively rapid ‘publication’
  • The potential audience is very large
  • It was consistent with AIM’s remit.

The Academic Advisory Council were watching to see how bugs were ironed out, quality assurance processes established, and credentials of contributors checked. Affiliation to a UK HEI (large or small) was a given.

Overall Robin’s impressions were positive; he was looking forward to the initiative gaining critical mass of papers and reviews because of its potential to generate a sample for research in its own right.

Questions / Discussion points:
 

  • Were submissions likely to be REFable? [Depends on institution, but at least should provide evidence of impact.]
  • The Institute of Chartered Accountants (Scotland) had tried a similar scheme, leading to edited outputs. Would CMI expect to broaden out from ‘management’ into other disciplines? [Not for the time being, and editing has to be done by authors because of the resource implications.]
     

4. Stefanie Reissner’s reflections

Stefanie has two articles already submitted to the scheme. She and her co-author felt it was an important communication channel because:

  • It is intrinsically important for business and management research to link back to practitioners
  • Co-author Victoria Pagan is a CMI member and could appreciate the importance of the scheme
  • It was a logical way to disseminate findings from their innovative ESRC-funded project on ‘Use of storytelling as a tool for managers to communicate with staff’ (effective use of storytelling, the darker side, risks etc.)
  • ESRC expect and value this sort of user engagement.

 

5. Points arising from round-table discussions (in no particular order)

  1. Will top researchers take the time to adapt their work for this audience? What rewards are there? (Analogy with writing for HBR is not a very helpful to top researchers as it’s not highly ranked as a journal.)
  2. Strong feelings that this was a ‘good thing’ in principle because the work of academic researchers should be shared, and stakeholders (practitioners, ESRC) value such efforts. Compared to writing journal papers, this should take relatively little time and could generate ‘quick wins’.
  3. It was possible to cut down an existing journal paper, emphasising the ‘so what?’ dimension clearly (which was good training for writing in other contexts). It was important to have systematic routes for academics to write for practitioners.
  4. The involvement of the British Library seemed desirable but people weren’t entirely clear how it worked.
  5. Recognition that while practitioners can pass research-based information on to each other through networks, the importance of this scheme was to bring them together to share views in the same forum.
  6. Recognition that academics often depend on getting data from practitioners, so there is some element of obligation to share it. It is a missed opportunity if the only practitioners who learn about our findings are those in the company that was being researched. Our own feedback loops are too slow and links within them are too weak.
  7. Through this scheme we can demonstrate relevance as well as the rigour that has already been demonstrated through more academic channels. Need to avoid generating ‘top 10 tips’ type of articles though.
  8. The scheme can speed up dissemination, because research is often undertaken in ‘batches’ of time and it then takes a long while for journal outputs to appear.
  9. Practitioners (including MBA students) want ‘stuff we can actually use’, generating ‘them and us’ attitudes. This scheme is a good way to break down this barrier and provides a way to justify the work that academics do, demonstrate its value.
  10. As well as this scheme, what other ways are there to build links with practitioners and identify possible future research informants? Suggestions included lLocal CMI group events, other professional organisations / networks eg CIPD.
  11. Noted that the ‘CMI online community’ is being developed; and academics were interested in seeing whether non CMI members could also access the articles.
  12. Noted that there were constraints on CMI systems capacity to host new articles and generate critical mass of reviews; gradual build up was better than bombarding the system too early.
  13. Counting the number of downloads can be an indicator of ‘impact’ and have PR value.
  14. Researchers appreciated the opportunity presented by the scheme for wide communication and networking, and in particular they would value being able to follow up comments or make contact with reviewers from time to time. Could reviewers be asked if it would be OK for the authors to contact them?
  15. Concern that consultants could expropriate academics’ ideas too easily – but balanced with the greater visibility the scheme gives to researchers, ‘cuts out the middle man’.
  16. Strong interest in finding out more about the actual use of ideas from the articles – could CMI survey members?

Appendix – description in BAM Conference programme

Workshop - Impact through practice: how to benefit from the CMI Top Management Articles initiative

A key challenge for the academic community is to demonstrate the practical benefits of management research to the government, the business community and funding bodies. To meet this challenge, the Chartered Management Institute is leading a collaborative initiative to assist UK business schools in disseminating their research findings rapidly to a wider audience. The CMI Top Management Articles initiative was launched in March 2011 and involves the British Academy of Management, the Advanced Institute of Management Research, the Association of Business Schools, Wiley and the British Library.

This exciting scheme helps researchers to demonstrate societal impact and the raise the profile of their work with employers. Making full use of the CMI’s web resources and online networks, it gives practising managers insights from credible, authoritative and leading edge knowledge from UK business schools. Writing concise, engaging, informative and thought-provoking articles for leaders and managers is an excellent way for academics and postgraduate researchers to hone their communication skills and attract new funding. Through this scheme researchers gain immediate feedback from expert practitioners, and the most highly-rated papers will also reach international audiences through the British Library’s Management and Business Studies portal.

To help BAM members participate in this exciting initiative, the workshop will:

  • Explain how the scheme works, and how it is benefitting its stakeholders
  • Highlight feedback from the first 50 papers published
  • Help potential authors to identify how they can promote their current research through the scheme
  • Generate ideas to help BAM and the CMI raise the profile and impact of Top Management Articles

Speakers from the CMI, BAM and other collaborators will provide brief overviews and answer questions, allowing plenty of time for discussion and idea-generation!
 

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