Theory and practice across disciplines: Implications for the field of management

Ross Brennan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - The aim of this paper is to contribute to the debate about the existence and nature of a "gap" between theory and practice in management. Design/methodology/approach - The putative theory/practice "gap" in management is investigated by examining the theory/practice debate in three cognate fields-economics, nursing and marketing. Findings - The relationship between theory and practice is actively debated in all three of the fields. In economics, criticism has been directed at the implicit ontological assumptions made in formal mathematical methods employed by orthodox neoclassical economists. In nursing the debate has centred on the practical issues associated with implementing evidence based practice; in particular identifying and seeking to overcome barriers to implementation. In marketing, managers find most academic theory difficult to read and irrelevant; this may be because the goals of academics and the goals of practitioners are different. Research limitations/implications - Potentially fruitful topics for further research are identified at the pragmatic, epistemological and ontological levels. Originality/value - The paper identifies lessons for the field of management research from economics, nursing and marketing. Each of these three areas provides a unique lens through which to view the research/practice "gap" in management
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-528
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Business Review
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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