What is business school research for? academic and stakeholder perspectives, politics and relationality

Steve Johnson, Kevin Orr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Through an empirically grounded analysis of contested interpretations of impact held by business school academics and wider stakeholders, we provide a political and relational understanding of research impact whereby impacts are realized through situated, relational and ongoing interactions. Our qualitative study of three UK business and management schools, comprising interviews with around 70 researchers, academic leaders and stakeholders explores conceptualizations of impact, examines the processes through which impact is achieved and considers the influence of the Research Excellence Framework (REF). The inclusion of academic leaders and business stakeholders adds value to studies that have focused primarily on academic researchers. We present a nuanced picture of the ways in which academics and business stakeholders conceptualize impact and navigate the complexity of roles and relationships in this arena. Implications for practice include the desirability of embracing different understandings of impact, creating space for generative dialogue and incorporating impact more explicitly in teaching and learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557-578
Number of pages22
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Issue number3
Early online date10 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Business schools
  • impact
  • management research


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