Acting on these principles of responsible research requires a revision of criteria, processes and incentive systems at all levels: individual faculty, journals, and schools. Proclaiming principles is not sufficient: we need to modify the ecosystem of research so that individual researchers are rewarded for making progress toward the achievement of our higher goals. To realize Vision 2030 and to pursue responsible research will require concurrent and coordinated actions across all relevant stakeholder groups with the common goal of valuing rigorous scholarship resulting in actionable knowledge. We suggest a few possible actions by the key stakeholders.
- Journal Editors and Publishers
- Journals, particularly those that set field standards, are essential to any efforts at change. Elite journals can encourage and publish problem-centered research oriented toward critical social and business questions that are complex and span disciplinary boundaries.
- Emphasize research context, important phenomena, and their implications for impact on broader stakeholder communities, while developing innovative and generalizable theories and insights.
- Publish replications, negative findings, and non-significant findings for robust knowledge that challenges positive or theory-supporting findings.
- Form a mutually supportive community of editors to pledge a commitment to the practice of responsible science in their journals.
- Scholarly Association Leaders
- Reinforce professional commitment, among current and new members, to a higher aim of service to society and humanity in addition to contributions to the business field.
- Identify and share with members the grand challenges in business and society and professional practices as opportunities for research with societal impact.
- Strengthen and actively promote problem-based, applied and impactful research in their mission statements.
- Encourage and promote inter-disciplinary research.
- University Leaders, Deans, Associate Deans, Department Heads, Senior Scholars
- Develop a vision and a strategy to encourage faculty to work on research that would make a positive difference in practice and society.
- Design promotion and tenure criteria that value research offering reliable incremental knowledge as well as innovative groundbreaking research with potential for scholarly, business, and societal impact.
- Expand the metrics for assessing research contributions at the department and school levels to include both scholarly and professional-practical impact. Recognize that some publications in the non-A, specialty, or regional journals may be of high quality (credibility) in addition to usefulness (with positive societal impact).
- Revamp the Ph.D. program by providing training on responsible research and its dissemination (e.g., the teaching of evidence-based problem-solving skills) to develop a new generation of responsible business and management social scientists.1
- Business School Associations, Accrediting and Ranking Agencies
- Include political, cultural, business, societal and pedagogic impact of research in assessment standards.
- Convene deans and academic leaders to discuss responsible research and the proposed principles.
- Document and share the best practices in responsible research and assist in benchmarking by schools.
- Work in collaboration with business school ranking publishers to adopt the principles of responsible research in assessing the educational and research contributions of the schools.
- Funding Agencies and Government
- Broaden the criteria for funding decisions to include potential business and societal impact in addition to intellectual merit. 2
- Government or public funding organizations can expand the criteria for assessing research accomplishment by including the criterion of societal impact. 3
- Funding agencies, public (e.g., NSF, EU) or private (e.g., Ford, Templeton), provide grants on topics that relate to the grand challenges in business and society.
- Commit to pursuing scholarship that contributes to credible knowledge, protects the integrity of science, and gives priority to problems that are relevant for business and important to society.
- Engage in a responsible review of other scientists’ manuscripts using relevant epistemic criteria to evaluate the quality of the work and relevant criteria to assess the potential business or societal impact of the findings.
- When evaluating the scientific accomplishments of individual scholars, engage in thoughtful evaluation of the importance of the ideas and quality of the knowledge produced; do not rely only on proxies such as perceived journal quality or citations.
- Follow the principles of responsible science in all scholarly activities in their roles as authors, reviewers, editors, educators, and evaluation committee members.
- Other External Stakeholders (businesses, social organizations, alumni, students, society)
- As recipients of knowledge from research, members of society in both commercial and non-commercial sectors share their challenges as potential subjects or topics of business and management research.
- Articulate and sensitize researchers to the challenges faced by organizations, and assist in framing important research problems that are directly relevant to business and society.
- Share data, allow access to data collection sites, and facilitate the collection of reliable empirical evidence to solve societal and business problems.
- Share best practices in business and management and open their organizations to support responsible science for the betterment of business and societies.
- Coordinated Commitment Mechanisms
The success of the actions of each stakeholder will require the support of similarly oriented actions by all stakeholders. Coordinated actions with a focus on responsible science in business and management will have a greater promise of success. Below, we suggest a few examples of such coordinated commitment mechanisms.
- Commitment to “responsible research” by all scholar-scientists.
The core responsibility for the production of relevant or actionable knowledge rests with the community of scholar-scientists working in business and management schools as well as allied social science disciplines such as economics, sociology, psychology, education, communications, anthropology, or political science. Their commitment to responsible science is central to the transformation of research from the current focus on publications and careers to a focus on producing credible and useful knowledge. We seek a commitment from research scholars to uphold responsible science, by joining the Community for Responsible Research in Business and Management (cRRBM). 4 The vision is to advance the long-term goal of transforming business and management research toward both useful and credible scholarship to create a better world.
- Commitment to “responsible research” by a vanguard of business schools around the world.
We see the power of a group of pioneering business schools around the world committed to the principles of responsible research. These schools can serve as role models providing examples of how to increase the societal relevance of their research. These business schools can partner with accreditation agencies to share their approaches to faculty development and evaluation as well as doctoral education that will advance responsible science. We see the potential of a consortium of business schools that pledge to develop and share best practices in responsible research, using the platform of deans’ conferences organized by the accreditation agencies around the world.
- Commitment to “responsible research” by professional societies of all disciplines.
The value of the leadership of professional societies of the disciplines of the business and management schools, including accounting, finance, information systems, human resource management, marketing, strategy, supply chain and operations management, to support the principles of “responsible research” cannot be over-estimated. These professional societies can publish joint guidelines for responsible science such as metrics for measuring research quality that does not rely on journals’ impact factor alone and metrics for measuring societal and business impact without intruding into the academic freedom of scholars. These societies can promote the value of discovering knowledge useful for practice. They can encourage their journals to publish research on important societal problems like the “grand challenges” that have guided engineering and health sciences research over the past decade. They can jointly encourage and work with business schools to reduce the silo of disciplinary journal preference and reward research that crosses disciplinary boundaries.
- Commitment to “responsible research” by all scholar-scientists.