“According to several executives, successful research is “not academic arcane language in some obscure journal” (Latham, 2008, 20). “It is not clear how things got to this point. It is hard for one to imagine an architect not taking into consideration important scientific evidence such as metallurgy when designing a new building” (Latham, 2012).
Defining Good Research
When it comes to social science in general and management research in particular, good research is research that can influence the human condition whether in society at large or individual organizations where people spend many of their waking hours. In defining success, senior executives at a Summit meeting in 2006 identified 10 criteria for quality research (Latham, 2008).
- Content – New or profound information and best practices versus incremental knowledge in a narrow topic.
- Readability – New knowledge presented in a language that they can understand that is fully deployable to all employees in the organization.
- Utility – Actionable information that will help practitioners close gaps in performance, exceed customer expectations and help sustain the organization in turbulent times.
- Transferability – New knowledge needs to be transferable across the organization and ideally across industry sectors. The corollary to this requirement in research is the concept of generalizability.
- Credibility – The depth of scholarship, including analysis and supporting data, is sufficient to inspire confidence and implementation of the new knowledge (Baldridge, Floyd, and Markoczy 2004). Part of the credibility is transparency on sponsorship and funding sources.
- Timely – New knowledge and information should be accessible in time to address real-world problems and challenges and ideally in time to create a competitive advantage.
- Access – Easy access to new knowledge and information available in multiple media and formats.
- Benefits – There should be a clear connection between the new knowledge and information and organization results and overall success.
- Involvement – Practitioners should be involved throughout the research process. As the practitioners put it, “Don’t ask for our problems and data and then toss the research findings over the wall.” The corollary to this in organizational change is the notion that resistance to change decreases as the involvement of the key stakeholders increases (Beckhard and Harris 1987).
- Dissemination – Present new knowledge and information at public forums such as the annual NIST Quest for Excellence and make the new knowledge available to the public.
These ten “principles” are key considerations for designing research that is useful and builds bridges between theory and practice.
Latham, J. R. (2008). Building bridges between researchers and practitioners: A collaborative approach to research in performance excellence. Quality Management Journal, 15(1), 20. | Download
Latham, J. R. (2012). Management system design for sustainable excellence: Framework, practices and considerations. Quality Management Journal, 19(2), 15. | Download