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Mobilising social science,
knowledge and value
Professor Richard Thorpe, Leeds University Business School
Dr Charlotte Coleman, Manchester Business School
Dr Paul Ellwood, University of Liverpool Management School
Contemporary Drivers for Knowledge
Mobilisation in Business Schools
• Expectations of societal and economic impact
– Governments
– Business
– Business School accreditation bodies
• REF will increasingly reward Research Impact
• Sustainability of income models dependent on big cohorts of
overseas students
What we know about what helps…
• Regular engagement between researchers and their
stakeholders
– Bringing stakeholders into schools (e.g. visiting lecturers)
• Climate within schools
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Track record of engagement between researchers & knowledge users
Role models
Incentivisation of engagement
Measurement of/Narratives of Impact
• Pluralism in how researchers conceive knowledge production
– Mode 1 and 2
– Different and distinctly defined research roles
Capability and capacity building
• Strategic intent from heads of school
• Transparency/incentives for time spent on engaging with
stakeholders
– Workload models
• Encouragement and support for early career researchers
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Attitudes of doctoral supervisors
Existing partnerships between schools and stakeholders
Working as part of research teams/centres
Support in accessing intermediaries
Support in accessing funding
Present Realities for Early-career Researchers
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Knowledge production: Engagement as extractive activity
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“Just get in and out”
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Who benefits from the knowledge gleamed and research created?
What about critique?
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Issues of offending or challenging those you have worked closely with
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Personal costs – “unsocial” social science research is quicker, cheaper, less emotional and more
mainstream
Engagement for dissemination of research findings
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“A thankless task”
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No rewards/Doesn’t help get a position or a promotion
No institutional arrangements or infrastructure
A weekend, hobby activity –
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Telling the vivid story
Worries about future career progression
Who gains from the knowledge
Policy work seen as secondary and written in weekends and evenings
deliberately underplayed in to avoid risk that it is seen as distracting
Imposter syndrome
Few mentors, leaders or cheerleaders
But some glory hunters (senior professors being named on policy, taking credit in the media)
Conducted for its intrinsic value
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richness of knowledge that can be gained and theory generated
personal pleasure, legitimacy gaining and a sense of duty/responsibility
Integrating engagement with career realities
Build foundations for future knowledge mobilisation by
leveraging current career realities
• Invite practitioners to give lectures on your courses
– Start with your supervisors’ lapsed contacts
• Include data generation methods in research that bring you
into contact with stakeholders
– Get out of the library more
• Go where they go
– Mixed practitioner/academic conferences may be good place to land
your first solo conference papers
• The principle is that to mobilse knowledge we must first
mobilise the producers of knowledge
Reflections in conclusion: engendering change
• Broaden the philosophical debate - The nature of knowledge
production
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Evidence based practice
Engaged research
Abductive reasoning
Collaborative research and the coproduction of knowledge
• Broaden perspectives on research design
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Processual research
Action research
Other involved methods
• Broaden the range of methods taught and develop the
accompanying skills and competencies
• Consider innovations in doctorates on the basis of the opportunity
for impact and engagement