Engaged Research


The course has three major aims. First, realizing the opportunities for academic researchers to perform “engaged research,” that is, applying academic insights to address real-world societal challenges. Second, understanding the epistemological specificities of performing engaged research. Third, developing the mindset and skills to embark on engaged research.


Increasingly strong calls for “relevant” research emanate from society at large, research financiers, and the scholarly community. One example is the Responsible Research in Business and Management platform, which held its first Summit in Rotterdam to achieve this goal. While academic researchers must remain “rigorous” in their endeavours, they are expected to engage ever more with complex societal problems, such as the contribution of business to mitigating climate change and reducing social disparities such as gender discrimination and high income inequality. So far, most management scholars have trailed in disseminating their insights outside academic circles, as is usual in many natural sciences. Many businesses, governments, and civil organizations are more than eager to acquire the knowledge and skills to better align their own actions with societal needs.

Engaged research aims to bridge the wide gap between management scholars and practitioners. While maintaining high research quality standards, it seeks to produce knowledge to address societal challenges. Engaged research is a participative form of inquiry, whereby scholars interact with practitioners during the identification of research questions, the collection of data, the interpretation of 

outcomes, and/or the translation of academic insights into managerial implications.

During the course, you will discover the opportunities and challenges of engaged research. You will identify different types of engaged research and peruse different perspectives on engaged research, written by both proponents and skeptics. You will analyze and discuss the strengths and limitations of the different viewpoints with fellow students, so as to tease out whether, when, and how engaged research will be valuable to management research, in particular, to your academic career. Guest lecturers will provide you with first-hand insights on the possibilities and roadblocks of engaged research. Finally, you will develop a research proposal in which you apply engaged research principles to a concrete research problem of your choice.


Assessment will consist of participation in classroom discussions (30%), individual assignments (30%), and a group assignment (40%).


Session 1 (5 Oct.): The rationale for engaged research

  • Davis, G. 2015. Editorial essay: What is organizational research for? Administrative Science Quarterly, 60(2): 179-188.
  • Drnevich, P., Mahoney, J., & Schendel, D. 2020. Has strategic management research lost its way? Strategic Management Review, 1: 35-73.
  • McKelvey, B. 2006. Response: Van de Ven and Johnson’s “Engaged scholarship”: Nice try, but… Academy of Management Review, 31(4): 822-829.
  • Tihanyi, L. 2020. From the editors: From “that’s interesting” to “that’s important”. Academy of Management Journal, 63(2): 329-331.
  • Tsui, A. 2021. Responsible research and responsible leadership studies. Academy of Management Discoveries, 7(2): 166-170.
  • Van de Ven, A. & Johnson, P. 2006. Knowledge for theory and practice. Academy of Management Review, 31(4): 802-821.
  • Individual assignment 1

Session 2 (12 Oct.): Forms of engaged research

  • Eden, C. & Huxham, C. 1996. Action research for management research. British Journal of Management, 7: 75-86.
  • Kieser, A., Nicolai, A., & Seidl, D. 2015. The practical relevance of management research: Turning the debate on relevance into a rigorous scientific research program. Academy of Management Annals, 9(1): 143-233.
  • Romme, G. 2003. Making a difference: Organization as design. Organization Science, 14(5): 558-573.
  • Vermeulen, F. 2007. “I shall not remain insignificant”: Adding a second loop to matter more. Academy of Management Journal, 50(4): 754-761.
  • Individual assignment 2

Session 3 (19 Oct.): Implementation of engaged research

  • Aguinis, H., Cummings, C., Ramani, R., & Cummings, T. 2020. “An A is an A”: The new bottom line for valuing academic research. Academy of Management Perspectives, 34(1): 135-154.
  • Ferraro, F., Etzion, D., & Gehman, J. 2015. Tackling grand challenges pragmatically: Robust action revisited. Organization Studies, 36(3): 363-390.
  • Sharma, G. & Bansal, P. 2020. Cocreating rigorous and relevant knowledge. Academy of Management Journal, 63(2): 386-410.
  • Simsek, Z., Bansal, P., Shaw, J., Heugens, P., & Smith, W. 2018. From the editors: Seeing practice impact in new ways. Academy of Management Journal, 61(6): 2021-2025.
  • Individual assignment 3

Session 4 (9 Nov.): Engaged research in action

  • No readings
  • Group assignment and presentation

Additional info

The timetable for this course can be found here. (The linked timetable might not show all the sessions at one glance. Please scroll per month to see the schedule of the entire course.)

ERIM PhD candidates (Fulltime & Part-time) can register for this course via Osiris Student.

External (non-ERIM) participants are welcome to this course. To register, please fill in the registration form and e-mail it to the ERIM Doctoral Office by four weeks prior to the start of the course. For external participants, the course fee is 520 euro.