5 Reasons why Management Professors should be reading blogs

by cv harquail on July 16, 2009

Very few management professors read blogs about management, leadership, strategy or organizations.

200907161721.jpgI have no hard data, no scientific survey, to support this claim, but I know it’s true.

As I’ve talked with colleagues over the last two years about this blog, about other blogs that I learn from, about blogs as a communication medium, and about blogging as a communication and intellectual practice, I’ve heard everything from dismissal to skepticism to distracted curiosity– but almost nothing about how blogs have been contributing to their worlds as scholars.

Comments about blogs that I’ve heard from management professors run the gamut:

1. “I can’t be bothered.”
2. “I have no time.
3. “How would blogs be useful to me?”
4. “Are there any interesting blogs out there?”
5. “I don’t even know how to begin.”

200907161834.jpg

Whether you are a professional “management scholar’ like a PhD or a semi-pro management scholar like an E/MBA student or a reflective organization member, there are some compelling reasons to read blogs about management, leadership and organizations.

I personally think that blogs as a medium and blogging as a tool are an important heretofore missing link between science and practice. But before I set out to evangelize (and in anticipation of the Workshop on Blogging for Management Scholars that colleagues and I are offering at the Academy of Management professional meeting), let me share the first draft of my argument with you readers (aka the already converted):

Here’s my first draft:

5 Reasons why Management Professors should be reading blogs

1. To learn how their colleagues are linking management theories with real-world issues

2. To see how real world issues can be understood better when our perspectives on them are informed by good theory

3. To see what issues are captivating the attention and energy of people in profit and non-profit organizations

4. To listen to the conversations about these issues and learn what really matters to people in organizations, and perhaps most importantly

5. To learn how to engage managers in thoughtful conversations about organizations and management, so that we can be more effective at influencing how managers think, so we can help them make organizations ‘better’.

Are there any reasons you’d challenge? Add? Augment?

If you had to get up in front of 100 management professors and tell them why they should be reading blogs, what would you say?

{ 13 comments }

David Zinger July 17, 2009 at 8:58 am

Here are some of my reasons:

They are often short and do not take too much of your time.

They may encourage you to move from reader to writer and contribute without having to submit to an editor, publisher, or referred journals. This can be freeing but keep publishing for tenure and promotion as I am not sure blogs will get you too far with academic promotion.

Blogs might give you some fresh news ideas. As bloggers are all over things within moments. For example the UK MacLeod Employee Engagement report was released by the UK government and blog reactions were up that day (much shorter time cycle than getting something published in a journal).

It is refreshing to hear the voice of various individuals.

You can take time to comment and enhance the knowledge of some of the bloggers.

Be very selective, there are good blogs and “bad” blogs out there. You don’t bring home every box of cereal — you don’t read every blog. Don’t dismiss all bloggers based on a few bad posts or blogs.

Check out Bob Sutton…he blogs and we know he believes in the No Asshole Rule.

Finally, reading a blog can be an excellent way to procrastinate on grading student papers or reading the stats in a very dry Master’s thesis.

CV Harquail July 17, 2009 at 11:48 am

David, these are some great additional reasons…
Wou inspire me to start a running list, which I’ll post again (maybe before, maybe after the workshop). I like the ideas that blogs might have a good ‘insight to word count’ ratio, that they can five us timely application ideas as well as nearly real-time information. And of course, I deeply value the chance to use a blog post or two to refresh and re-energize my mind (sometimes known as procrastination). cv

Graeme Martin July 20, 2009 at 8:25 am

CV, I fully subscribe to your five reasons. Two others come to mind. The first is a ‘duty’ of academics to connect and share their ideas with people outside of their often narrow community, and to do so succinctly and quickly. The second is that we write to think as much as we think to write, so getting down cogent and coherent thoughts helps academics create and polish arguments

Anne Marie McEwan July 27, 2009 at 1:37 am

CV, I agree with your five reasons. I would respectfully suggest that management professors who want to stay in the game ought to consider blogging.

The world is changing rapidly and simultaneously on many fronts. New knowledge about these trends is developing outside of academic institutions. It seems to me that management professors risk being seen as irrelevant if they do not join in the conversations taking place in blogs, outside of and across institutional confines.

Oh, and their more junior academic colleagues most certainly are engaging in blog conversations, rapidly establishing significant reputational capital for themselves.

Mahananda July 27, 2009 at 5:48 am

Management Professors should read blogs to sharpen their literature usage and application of ornamental language in deleviring class lecturers.

CV Harquail July 27, 2009 at 9:03 am

Hi Anne Marie-
I completely agree with you! I’m on a little (maybe not so little) mission to get more management scholars online .. The possibility of relevance (since, when you’re not online, you’re not relevant online) and the possibility of reputational capital should be compelling, I think.
I suspect that one reason more mgmt scholars are not blogging (or reading blogs) is that they don’t even know that blogs like yours at TheSmartWorkCompany even exist, much less that they influence so many thoughtful managers.
Thanks so much for commenting… I continue to love, learn from and enjoy what you’re writing and doing at TSWC!

Anne Marie McEwan July 27, 2009 at 4:31 pm

Hi CV

You are kind. Thank you! And more power to your elbow in your quest 🙂

Bret L Simmons July 28, 2009 at 10:36 am

Great post! I totally concur that Mgt professors should be reading blogs, and more should also be writing them. When I tell my colleagues I write a blog, I almost always get a negative reaction. Most see it as a cost, but I see it as an investment. Really like you reason #2. Thanks! Bret

CV Harquail July 29, 2009 at 1:53 am

Bret, I think that we who blog already ‘get’ lots of the intrinsic benefits… but I find myself struggling to respond to those who ask how it can help their ‘career’ or help them with tenure. i have this fantasy that at the workshop we can come up with 5-7 reasons blogging could count for tenure, and some qual & quant ways to measure ROI, and then use these to educate & advocate. Can you come to the workshop yourself? We could put you into the panel… cv

Wally Bock July 28, 2009 at 5:50 pm

Yes, they should be reading, for all the reasons enumerated. And yes, as Bret says, they should be writing. And they should be responding to the comments on their blogs.

There are several of the academics who have blogs, but who don’t respond to comments. That’s a straight-up message that their time is far too valuable to waste on the comments of the uninformed.

CV Harquail July 29, 2009 at 1:41 am

Hi Wally! Tickled to see you here!

I personally want to confine the term ‘blog’ only to webpages where readers can contribute. If the comments are off, then you’re simply publishing, not blogging. I ranted on this a bit to a BSchool dean-buddy of mine, who was ‘blogging’ with no facility for accepting/listening to replies. Finally, recently, he changed his page format and now is entertaining comments- and enjoying the process. It hasn’t been what he feared (i.e., overwhelming), tho maybe some folks are too intimidated by his dean-ness to comment….

I’m hoping that by positioning comments/replies as a chance to learn and teach, I can get more colleagues interested. I do see blogging as a BIG opportunity for management faculty to take some leadership in the conversation linking research (even just their/our own) to practice. I’ll be taking notes at the workshop and will report back in a post. cv

Bret L Simmons August 5, 2009 at 10:51 am

Wish I could make the workshop but I won’t be at AOM this year. Will you let me know how it goes? Bret

John Austin August 5, 2009 at 12:41 pm

CV,

I am enjoying the dialog you’ve started here.

I agree with your five points. I think points 1, 3, and 4 can be easily seen as advantages of reading blogs while points 2 and 5 are best captured by commenting or writing blogs.

Interesting thought about linking with tenure. I see blogging as outreach for the university. When I was actively blogging (2004-2006), I was attracting media attention from WSJ, CNN, and a number of online outlets. This can potentially be a benefit to your university.

Engaging with people beside students can be a valuable personal development experience. In my case, the biggest benefit of blogging was finding my own voice. I rediscovered how to communicate with practicing managers and I had great fun in doing so. Academic writing all too often neuters our personal voice. Finding my voice was the first step in helping me find my ideal professional work…at the nexus of the academic and the practicing manager. Blogging and engaging with other bloggers helped me discover a new path that was not the traditional choice between being an academic and being a consultant.

As I write this I realize my experience may not be a good message for your session…blogging led me on a path away from the academic world *grin*

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