Full-text resources of CEJSH and other databases are now available in the new Library of Science.
Visit https://bibliotekanauki.pl


2015 | 4 | 113-130

Article title

Rigour and Relevance: A PhD Student’s Perspective



Title variants

Languages of publication



Purpose: This study argued that desipite what the content of the debate might suggest, there is a conflict between the two concepts of rigour and relevance and their actual relationship is a symbiotic one. Drawing on a definition of symbiosis, the study showed that the concepts of rigour and relevance are actually two separate “organisms” that are bound by a long term relationship that benefits both sides. Methodology: The study reviewed selected literature concerning rigour and relevance and presented the historical development of the debate and theoretical models of the relationship between the two concepts. Implications: The implications were presented from a PhD student’s perspective and included suggestions on how to approach the issues of rigour and relevance in the research project and how to cope with their seemingly conflicting nature. Originality: The originality of this study resulted from approaching the issue of rigour and relevance from a biology perspective and extending the definition of symbiosis to the relationship between the two concepts.







Physical description





  • AACSB Bridge Programs. http://www.aacsb.edu/bridge/ (30.04.2013).
  • Anderson, G.L. and Herr, K. (1999). The New Paradigm Wars: Is There a Room for Rigorous Practitioner Knowledge in Schools and Universities? Educational Researcher, 28(5): 12–21, 40, http://dx.doi.org/10.3102/0013189X028005012
  • Alvesson, M. and Sandberg, J. (2013). Has Management Studies Lost Its Way? Ideas for More Imaginative and Innovative Research. Journal of Management Studies, 50(1): 119–152, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6486.2012.01070.x
  • Augier, M. and March, J.G. (2007). The Pursuit of Relevance in Management Education. California Management Review, 49(3): 129–146, http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/41166398
  • Augier, M. and March, J.G. (2011). The Roots, Rituals, and Rhetorics of Change: North American Business Schools After the Second World War. Stanford: Stanford University Press, http://dx.doi.org/10.11126/stanford/9780804776165.001.0001
  • Brady, C. (2009). Theory and practice in equal measure. Financial Times, June 1.
  • Burell, G. and Morgan, G. (1979). Sociological Paradigms and Organisational Analysis. Burlington: Ashgate.
  • Campbell, I. and Dealtry, R. (2003) The new generation of corporate universities – Co-creating sustainable enterprise and business development solutions. Journal of Workplace Learning, 15(7/8): 368–381, http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/13665620310504864
  • Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business, http://tepper.cmu.edu/about-tepper/history/history-meets-business/index.aspx (30.04.2013).
  • Czarniawska, B. (1999). Writing Management. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Encyclopedia Britannica, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/ 577677/ symbiosis (30.40.2013).
  • Fincham, R. and Clark, T. (2009). Introduction: Can We Bridge the Rigour-Relevance Gap? Journal of Management Studies, 46(3): 510–515, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6486.2009.00834.x
  • Guthrie, D. (2013) Corporate Universities: An Emerging Threat to Graduate Business Education. Forbes, January 22.
  • Hatch, M.J. (2006) Organization Theory: modern, postmodern, and symbolic perspectives. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Hodgkinson, G.P. and Rousseau, D.M. (2009) Bridging the Rigour-Relevance Gap in Management Research: It’s Already Happening! Journal of Management Studies, 46(3): 534–546, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6486.2009.00832.x
  • Jemielniak, D. (2006). The Management Science as a Practical Field: In Support of Action Research. The International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management, 6(3), 163–170.
  • Kieser, A. and Leiner, L. (2009). Why the Rigour-Relevance Gap in Management Research is Unbridgeable. Journal of Management Studies, 46(3): 516–533, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6486.20 09.00831.x
  • Luhmann, N. (1995). Social Systems. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  • Merriam-Webster Dictionary. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conflict (30.04.2013).
  • Nicolai, A. and Seidl, D. (2010). That’s Relevant! Different Forms of Practical Relevance in Management Science. Organization Studies, 31(09&10): 1275–1285.
  • Oxford Dictionary, http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/symbiosis? q=symbiosis,(30.04.2013).
  • Paton, S., Chia, R. and Burt, G. (2013). Relevance or ‘relevate’? How university business schools can add value through reflexively learning from strategic partnerships with business. Management Learning, 45(3): 267–288, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1350507613479541
  • Peters, K. (2012) Academics must bridge divide with business. Financial Times, April 23.
  • Pfeffer, J. (1993). Barriers to the Advance of Organizational Science: Paradigm Development as a Dependent Variable. Academy of Management Review, 18(4): 599–620, http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/258592
  • Pfeffer, J. (1995). Mortality, Reproducibility, and the Persistence of Styles of Theory. Organization Science, 6(6), 681–686, http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/orsc.6.6.681
  • Sandmann, L.R. and Thornton, C.H. (2008) The Bridging Scholarship. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, 12(3): 223–229.
  • Simon, S.J. (2004) Rigor vs. Relevance: Why Can’t We All Just Get Along? Journal of Information Science and Technology, 1(1): 1–11.
  • Starkey, K., Hatchuel, A. and Tempest, S. (2009). Management Research and the New Logics of Discovery and Engagement. Journal of Management Studies, 46(3): 547–558, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6486.2009.00833.x
  • Syed, J., Mingers, J. and Murray, P.A. (2009) Beyond rigour and relevance: A critical realist approach to business education. Management Learning, 41(1): 71–85, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1350507609350839
  • Taylor, F.W. (2006). The Principles of Scientific Management. New York: Cosimo, Inc.
  • Van de Ven, A.H. (2007) Engaged Scholarship: A Guide for Organizational and Social Research. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Van Maanen, J. (1995a). Fear and Loathing in Organization Studies. Organization Science, 6(6): 687–692, http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/orsc.6.6.687
  • Van Maanen, J. (1995b). Styles as Theory. Organization Science, 6(1): 133–143, http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/orsc.6.1.133
  • Vermeulen, F. (2006). On Rigor and Relevance: Fostering Dialectic Progress in Management Research. Academy of Management Journal, 48(6): 978–982, http://dx.doi.org/10.5465/AMJ.2005.19573102
  • Wrege, C.D. and Perroni, A.G. (1974). Taylor’s Pig-Tale: A historical Analysis of Fredercik W. Taylor’s Pig-Iron Experiments. The Academy of Management Journal, 17(1): 6–27, http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/254767

Document Type

Publication order reference


YADDA identifier

JavaScript is turned off in your web browser. Turn it on to take full advantage of this site, then refresh the page.