Rigor versus relevance : a pseudo-dialectical solution
"Rigor and Relevance" is one of the recurrent themes in management research and business school operations. Surprisingly, in spite of considerable effort devoted to the task, not very much has been accepted among both theoreticians and practitioners. Two articles by Freek Vermeulen, professor of the London Business School, published by Academy of Management Journal serve as a basis for reflection and critique. His "dialectical" solution is shown to be a pseudo-solution having nothing to do with the concept of dialectics. The dilemma of rigor versus relevance is not solvable in the framework adopted by management scholars, since these two concepts refer to social practices of science that are historically and socially determined. Rigor is an expression of the regulatory value of truth. Relevance is an expression of the regulatory value of profit. A simple "conciliation" has not been feasible in the articles discussed. Adding a mere "dialectical" label is not enough. The correct combination of truth (rigor) and profit (relevance) can only be decided in concrete, historical circumstances. (original abstract)
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