Strategic Management Review > Vol 1 > Issue 1

Has Strategic Management Research Lost Its Way?

Paul L. Drnevich, Culverhouse College of Business, University of Alabama, USA, Joseph T. Mahoney, Gies College of Business, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA, Dan Schendel, Krannert School of Management, Purdue University, USA,
Suggested Citation
Paul L. Drnevich, Joseph T. Mahoney and Dan Schendel (2020), "Has Strategic Management Research Lost Its Way?", Strategic Management Review: Vol. 1: No. 1, pp 35-73.

Publication Date: 04 Mar 2020
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Strategic Management
Collective action problemlogic of discoveryproblem-formulating and problem-solving approachtheory-practice gap


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In this article:
The Theory–Practice Gap Problem and Benefits of its Closure 
Exemplars of Problem-focused, Engaged, and Pragmatic Scholarly Discovery Logic 
Bridging the Theory–Practice Gap: Identifying Issues, Problems, and Impediments 
Practice-Side Issues: Changing Roles for Academics and Consultants 
Research-Side Issues: Interdisciplinary Research and Institutions of Higher Learning 
Research-Side Issues: Academic Journals, Societies, and Accreditation Organizations 
Research-Side Issues: Further Suggested Solutions 


Strategic management research has strayed from its primary focus on efficient and effective management practice. We suggest a refocusing of strategic management research, based on the logic of discovery of real-world phenomena and strategic problems, with the goals of better enabling scholars to refine existing and develop new management theories. We demonstrate that historically, such a pragmatic, engaged, and problem-focused process helped produce many of the seminal works, groundbreaking concepts, and core theories in the strategic management field. We express our concern that many scholars are no longer developing or practicing sufficient skills to generate such impactful research. We propose that re-adopting this logic of discovery within the knowledge production process of engaged scholarship can produce both scientifically rigorous and practically relevant research. Such a research approach both develops new theoretical contributions and bridges the theory-practice gap by addressing real-world problems (and thereby creating economic value). We discuss some of the existing impediments to doing so and suggest changes in incentive systems to reward scholars for producing impactful research that better serves the collective welfare of the school, the field, and society.