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59. Can’t we all just get along? On bridging the gap between science and practice.

When it comes to organizational behavior, there is an unfortunate and unnecessary divide between science and practice. Scientists scoff at practitioners for oversimplifying, while practitioners scoff at scientists for being esoteric. It doesn’t have to be this way.

It’s important to recognize that science and practice are built for different purposes. Science demands precision. Its work is slow and incremental, with the goal of advancing theory. Practice demands usability. The competitive environment requires a sense of urgency, with the goal of making profitable forward progress.

To deny the importance of one or the other is nonsensical. They are designed with different goals and will inevitably have different ways of getting there.

It would serve both parties to stop posturing and start learning. Scientists have more nuanced and meaningful research questions when they listen to practitioners. Practitioners have more impact, and in turn, more success, when they approach problems with scientifically informed solutions.


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