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As management researchers, we face a promising, yet challenging, future within the

social sciences. The debate on these pages suggests that the challenges for the discipline
can be addressed if we approach them with the right degree of reexivity, openness, and
level-headedness. The four contributors also identied in turn some paths towards
strengthening management studies as an academic discipline that has a direct and
relevant impact on managers and organizations. In taking these routes and moving the
discipline forward, we may also, as management researchers, be able to carve out a more
distinctive and readily recognizable space within the social sciences at large.
Whilst the contributors each make different suggestions, their recommendations
seem to coalesce around a common commitment towards management phenomena
and towards a kind of research that makes a difference and contributes in a positive
way to practice. The focus on management phenomena, rst of all, suggests that we
have to get our hands dirty and closely observe and study, or even live with, people in
organizations rather than relying on arms length, or at worst ivory tower, approaches
that are based on lab data or proxies. The primary focus on management phenomena
also suggests the value of abduction, compared to deduction or induction as the primary
canons of scientic reasoning. Julians example from his own doctoral research and also
Marks suggestions around design interventions suggest an abductive form of reasoning
where empirical observations are compared to existing theoretical models and explanations (Alvesson and Krreman, 2007; Locke et al., 2008), and with such comparisons
leading to increasingly more detailed and useful products, whether those are new or
revised theories or actual artefacts for practice (Mantere and Ketokivi, 2013).
A second, but somewhat related commitment shared by all contributors is the importance of making a difference to practice. It is an interesting pledge, and one that
historically most management journals, including the Journal of Management Studies, had
incorporated as part of their mission statements. Over time, and with the increasing
scientic sophistication of our research, this aim came to be seen as a secondary concern
for most management researchers and indeed for most management journals. Yet,
within our community it may well be an articial and unhelpful distinction that
reinforces a fetishistic concern with theory, as opposed to considering how theories, as
products, can make a difference and are of instrumental value to managers and others in
and around organizations. To tune research in this direction may require that as
researchers we push each other to ask bigger and empirically relevant questions, as
opposed to being led by the potholes or gaps in a literature. A shift in this direction is also
helped by mainstreaming different research approaches and designs, with Julian suggesting a greater use of eld experiments, Roy a turn towards ethnographic methods and
modes of interrogation from the humanities, Klaus arguing for a focus on empirical
settings away from commercial rms, and Mark advocating a design approach based on
interventions in practice
We initiated this debate against the backdrop of the history of management studies
and the future prospects for the discipline. Indeed, many of the points and recommendations of our contributors hinge on understanding the recent history of management
studies within the social sciences, as a way of identifying the possible roads ahead. Roy
in this respect advocates the importance for our discipline of familiarizing ourselves with
the historically contingent nature of our knowledge; to foster reexivity and to better
grasp future directions. Such a greater awareness may indeed be much needed, and
may help in avoiding the irony of history repeating itself. The pledge for phenomena
driven research that makes a difference to practice, whilst highly relevant now, was,
for example, already very much a part of the ethos of management researchers
and management journals, such as the Journal of Management Studies, in the 1960s and

1970s. Authors who have been highlighted, such as Simon and Mintzberg, wrote
groundbreaking articles at the time on a variety of managerial and organizational topics.
The leaf that we, perhaps yet again, may take out of their book and with an eye to the
future is to ensure that we study managers and organizations across a range of empirical
settings up close and are open and reective in our future research endeavours and not
beholden to overly formal and scientistic theoretical principles and assumptions from
other parts of the social sciences. Instead the great advantage of a phenomenon driven
discipline such as management studies is that we, as management researchers, can roam
freely for ideas across the social sciences and blend these with an acute understanding of
management and organizations. That freedom and creativity is a great gift to scholars
and managers interested in a better and deeper understanding of management and
organizations.