Journal Article | Academy of Management Learning & Education | September 2007

Relevance and Rigor: Executive Education as a Lever in Shaping Practice and Research

by Michael L. Tushman, Amy Fenollosa, Dan McGrath, Charles A. O'Reilly and Adam Michael Kleinbaum

Abstract

As professional schools, business schools aspire to couple research rigor with managerial relevance. There has been, however, a concern that business schools are increasingly uncoupled from practice and that business school research lacks real world relevance. This relevance-rigor gap affects the quality of our teaching as well as the institutional legitimacy of our business schools. We argue that executive education is an underutilized context that can enhance the quality of faculty research as well as our impact on managerial practice. Using evaluation data from variations of a single executive education program, we find that action-learning programs significantly enhance both individual and organizational outcomes compared to traditional executive education formats. Action-learning programs also enhance our teaching and research efforts. Building on these results and experiences, we suggest that executive education in general, and action-learning in particular, are fertile contexts where business schools can bridge the relevance-rigor gap.

Keywords: Business Education; Executive Education; Learning; Teaching; Management; Practice; Research;

Citation:

Tushman, Michael L., Amy Fenollosa, Dan McGrath, Charles A. O'Reilly, and Adam Michael Kleinbaum. "Relevance and Rigor: Executive Education as a Lever in Shaping Practice and Research." Academy of Management Learning & Education 6, no. 3 (September 2007): 345–365.