The Essay in Management Studies



The dominant form of papers published in top management journals is ‘science’. That is, papers tend to be positivist in orientation, involving the use of quantitative data to test hypotheses and make incremental advances in theory. It would be easy to think that this approach was the only, or at least the most, legitimate way to advance knowledge in management studies. Indeed, we can observe a trend within qualitative research in recent years towards attempting to mimic this approach. But there are many legitimate ways to advance knowledge, including the essay form. In this seminar, Bill Harley will discuss the resurgence of the essay in management studies, based largely on his experience as co-editor of JMSSays, the essay section of the Journal of Management Studies. He will discuss what is distinctive about essays, what the features of successful essays are, and how they can generate important advances in knowledge.


Bill Harley is Professor of Management at the University of Melbourne. Bill has published extensively in the fields of human resource management and organisation studies, as well as a number of papers on the methodology. He was previously Associate Editor and subsequently General Editor at the Journal of Management Studies (JMS) and is now a JMS Consulting Editor and Co-Editor of JMSSays. Bill is on the editorial Boards of Academy of Management Learning and Education and Human Relations and the International Advisory Board of Work Employment and Society.