How many times have you been pestered to do a survey in the past year? Month? Week? My guess is: plenty! As a professional, you are likely bombarded with survey requests, most of which you may ignore due to sheer volume! Many of these requests probably come from academics, like me, trying to conduct some kind of research, which you may or may not find interesting or relevant to you. In order to conduct research, academics need access to you, your knowledge, and your experience. However, what are we contributing to you? How are we helping you innovate or work more efficiently? Academics are frequently considered to be ‘in the ivory tower,’ or worse. There are several articles available about the ‘useless’ nature of academics, but this diatribe on Academia’s Crisis of Irrelevance is passionate, stirring, and for me, disturbing!
This indeed is a great divide! The more I talk with professionals, the more I realize how little I indeed understand about how the ‘real’ industry works, and how little I therefore bring to the table. There must be a way to bridge this gap. When I approach a professional for an interview or with a request for, yes, a survey response, I feel that I am operating solely on their goodwill, as I have nothing to offer them in return. I currently feel that I am unable to provide reciprocity. I don’t have research outcomes which lend themselves to improving business operations or creating new breakthroughs in how business is done.
Ending Academic Irrelevance
One of the few benefits I can convey to professionals is to assist professionals with recruiting. As a professor of about 70 students each semester, I get to know my students very well and am always eager to match them up with excellent job opportunities and internships. I love that I can do this for both students and recruiters, but how can I become more relevant, though my research, to professionals?
I want to improve this situation. I envision academic research conducted in concert with industry needs. I endeavor to bring in the new generation of academics: the relevant generation, and I will need your help to do it!
Let’s start our dialogue here! Please add your perspective by answering any of the following questions or including any other comments below. What has been your experience with academics? How can academics and professionals become partners in advancing knowledge to benefit practice and enable innovation?
About the Author
Heather Monteiro is a Logistics instructor at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia; where she lives with her husband and four children. She is also a research assistant at Georgia Center for Innovation in Logistics, and has a personal research interest in all things transportation. She will complete her PhD in Logistics in 2014.