Changing the Conversation on the Science–Practice Gap: An Adherence-Based Approach


Abstract

The science–practice gap has been recognized as a grand challenge for management scholars in the 21st century. Despite the generation of a considerable amount of knowledge, which is clearly relevant to practice, the science–practice gap continues to persist. We challenge past notions that areas of management have not sufficiently developed to be prescriptive. The Editorial leadership of the Journal of Management commissioned our team to change the conversation on the science–practice gap by changing the question to one which focuses on adherence. We introduce an adherence-based framework from the medical literature to advance the conversation on the science–practice gap in management. This includes a rubric that identifies five criteria to evaluate the prescriptive readiness of research (theoretical grounding, rigor, relevance, practical recommendations, and communication) that produce five levels of research advancement (exploratory, preliminary, option, guidelines, and standards). We identify how scholars and practitioners can overcome structural, social, and psychological barriers to adherence (make recommendations possible, easy, normative, rewarding, and sometimes required). While the science–practice gap may remain a persistent concern, an adherence-based approach can serve to change the nature of the conversation in order to reduce the gap in many areas of management.

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