Re-making 'Quality' within the Social Sciences

The Debate over Rigour and Relevance in the Modern Business School

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Against the background of previous discussions over the state of academic institutions and the specific operation of research evaluation and measurement systems, this article focuses on the relationship between academic quality and larger societal value within social scientific research. Adopting a perspective from Science and Technology Studies (STS), it specifically explores what has become known as the ‘rigour–relevance’ debate within business and management research and considers its larger implications. On the one hand, it is important to consider how terms such as ‘rigour’ and ‘relevance’ are specifically constructed and performed. On the other, this debate should be seen in the context of the modern business school as an ‘overloaded assemblage’ responsible to multiple audiences and for multiple purposes. In conclusion, it is argued that frameworks of ‘rigour’ and ‘relevance’ should be considered in terms not only of what they include but also omit – with notions of responsibility, public value, cognitive justice and public engagement providing alternative, but characteristically neglected, means of (re-)framing quality in this context.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Sociological Review
Volume67
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)194–209
Number of pages16
ISSN0038-0261
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Audit culture
  • Knowledge production
  • Public value
  • Research evaluation
  • Science and Technology Studies (STS)

Cite this

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abstract = "Against the background of previous discussions over the state of academic institutions and the specific operation of research evaluation and measurement systems, this article focuses on the relationship between academic quality and larger societal value within social scientific research. Adopting a perspective from Science and Technology Studies (STS), it specifically explores what has become known as the ‘rigour–relevance’ debate within business and management research and considers its larger implications. On the one hand, it is important to consider how terms such as ‘rigour’ and ‘relevance’ are specifically constructed and performed. On the other, this debate should be seen in the context of the modern business school as an ‘overloaded assemblage’ responsible to multiple audiences and for multiple purposes. In conclusion, it is argued that frameworks of ‘rigour’ and ‘relevance’ should be considered in terms not only of what they include but also omit – with notions of responsibility, public value, cognitive justice and public engagement providing alternative, but characteristically neglected, means of (re-)framing quality in this context.",
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Re-making 'Quality' within the Social Sciences : The Debate over Rigour and Relevance in the Modern Business School. / Irwin, Alan.

In: The Sociological Review, Vol. 67, No. 1, 2019, p. 194–209.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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