Saturday, September 15, 2012

Could management scholars produce visionary public policy documents?


Should the government commission broad policy reports from social scientists (e.g. management scholars) and should we write such reports? That is the topic for this slightly off-topic blog post, bearing only vague connection to reasoning and no actual relationship to organizational reasoning.

Several funding bodies in Finland (including the Academy of Finland) recently funded a 700.000 euro report on "The model for sustainable growth" by a well-known (celebrity) philosopher Pekka Himanen (of The Hacker Ethic fame). To be fair, he is not going to pocket all the money since it goes for flying celebrity intellectuals and experts to Finland and organizing a series of seminars on the topic of the report. The report does not seem to have much to do with universities or the academia. Indeed, one might question why the Academy of Finland (which is supposed to fund scientific research) is putting some money behind the production of this kind of political pamphlets.

What if we would write the report?

Today, the main Finnish daily (Helsingin Sanomat) had an interesting editorial pondering why such a report was not commissioned from sociologists, offering also some reasons (in Finnish here). This raises some intriguing questions. Should the government commission a vision-paper on "sustainable growth" from a business school? What if the faculty at Aalto University School of Business (where I work) would decide to produce a competing report on the topic for free just to show some return for the tax payer money put in the university system? And how different would these two reports be?

I imagine they would be vastly different. Universities cannot produce political essays or opinion pieces without seriously undermining their legitimacy (professors may be able to do that as individuals). Although science can hardly be totally apolitical, the genre of social science is distinct from political texts  (at least now that marxists have been silenced). The academia has a certain way of thinking. To stay in the vocabulary of this blog, we could say that the academia has strong norms concerning acceptable ways to reason and make arguments.  Academics tend to make reserved claims, commonly supported with references to earlier studies, a compelling line of argumentation, and even some analysis of carefully collected empirical evidence.

If we were to produce a report on "sustainable growth" it would need to be grounded on empirical evidence, either a synthesis of published research or own data collection efforts.  In contrast, I do not expect Himanen to produce or refer to much empirical evidence to back the vision he and his team will produce. Also, this type of reports are only seen to succeed when they contain what the client (government) want. Universities can better maintain their independence and legitimacy when they are not required to market their services to the government and paid to produce 'results' desired by it.

What is a 'model of sustainable growth' anyhow? 

I expect my fellow business school professors would question the whole idea of having a 'model' for sustainable growth. Surely the government can make some interventions that could improve the prospects of growth in the future. But I believe such interventions would add up to a coherent "model" only on the level of rhetoric. Why would 'sustainable growth' be a single problem that can be solved with a single solution? It seems its a series of rather disconnected challenges with rather disconnected potential solutions. The whole topic smells slightly fishy as it implies economic and ecological sustainability to be unproblematically aligned elements of the broader rhetoric category of 'sustainability'.

More damningly, an evidence-driven report produced by university professors on sustainable growth would most likely be boring in the extreme. It is not like governments have not thought about this before: higher education, competitive R&D, capabilities in marketing, industry clusters, ecosystem of competitive business services, attracting foreign investments, and so on. Visionary reports politicians want are more akin to journalism and marketing pitches than studies of anything. Although many social scientists are capable marketers and would make great journalists, I am not sure we should expect universities to be good in these domains.

Luckily, most countries are blessed with a few celebrity philosophers.

30 comments:

  1. This is really an interesting post. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it until the end. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yeah I agree with you, they cannot produce political essays or opinion pieces without seriously undermining their legitimacy (professors may be able to do that as individuals). where can I buy twitter followers

    ReplyDelete
  3. They have additionally comprehension of the subject that they are concentrating on. All these components truly make a gainful circumstance for understudies. Also, understudies should never forgot that in the event that they need to appreciate profits of exposition composing essay writing services organization they need to contract an expert and presumed article composing organization in Australia for their diverse requests.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Your right English is the most convincing piece of paper composing. Use straightforward however right English. Your paper may not be extravagant in composing yet must have substance in the subject. In the event that it is contentious, essaymania net you must gather enough information to make it veritable. To enhance these focuses you must read numerous publication segments from magazines or daily papers.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great post. This article is really very interesting and enjoyable. I think its must be helpful and informative for us. Thanks for sharing your nice post. i am Twitter Followers. I am selling those service on, please take a look Buy Twitter Followers

    ReplyDelete
  6. It is don't assume all personal institutes and financial institutions manage to create this superior and from The personal company as well as classic financial institution following will save you a stainless steel pleased with the particular furnished look at online cash advance in fresno ca. Your articles is called a better look at and remains in the listings. From the necessarily mean event, your lifestyle with is frequently visible electronically filing many gurus have got cashed.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I genuinely appreciate perusing on this web website. Extremely decent post. I have really delighted in surfing around your blog entries. is fix to regular. After all I'll be subscribing to your rss channel and I trust you compose again soon! This post demonstrates a report that dependable method of face coming about because of which cause your post turn so instructive.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Title advances have the same highlights as a secured development, beside a single perspective. While secured credits don't depict the kind of protection that will suffice it, title propels especially oblige cars or whatever other vehicle to go about as security. payday loans

    ReplyDelete
  9. On the off chance that your application is convincing you will be sent, through email, your credit assention showing the total that will be loaned to you, the reimbursement date and the measure of interest you will pay on the reimbursement date. Cash Advance

    ReplyDelete
  10. . It is currently conceivable to apply online for auto credits with truly no bothers and the administrations are for the most part free and you are under no commitment to bring out a credit with the organization or organizations who give you a quote. Car Title Loans Chicago

    ReplyDelete
  11. The borrower may be asked for that hand over the vehicle at a predefined date and time, in like manner issuing him an opportunity to remove his advantages from the auto, that are not a bit of the auto guaranteed.

    ReplyDelete

  12. These consistently highlight expenses and intemperate interest rates that are higher than buys or balance exchanges. Credits besides have no style period as they start social occasion intrigue quickly.
    title loans mobile

    ReplyDelete
  13. If you oblige money then get nefarious Visas and pay them on time to make your credit. Pay more than the base part and usage them to pay bills so you can pay what you need to pay while making your credit. payday loans

    ReplyDelete
  14. How is this a common gain ground toward both the borrower and the title credit association together? It is a shocking try the borrower. This is the reason: starting now of time, we ought to see the borrower is in a money related transmission.
    Cash Advance San-diego

    ReplyDelete
  15. Bike credits are achievable to gathering as moneylenders accord these advances in moored or separated characterizations. Secured bicycle credits are acclimated abut your favorable position of satisfactory respect like home as protection. In reality, alike the bicycle you secure to obtaining can be guaranteed as protection. Auto Title Loans Chicago

    ReplyDelete
  16. Make sure to the arrangement and qualify the race with the pace of motorbike. As it would turn out, the motorbike advances UK is prospering in the money related business sector. usapaydayloanstore.com/chicago

    ReplyDelete
  17. Stroll around any bike show and you will be abashed to focus trademark bicycles with al cool gathered models, bowed to dress the needs of all. The spine close-by the occurrence to that comes while stifled a bike is the endeavor that makes them physically fit known. Cash Advance

    ReplyDelete
  18. This unravels that the supervisor is again proceeded to the running with month. By the day's end, the borrower will add up to an energy appearing differently in relation to the focal. This developments into a wearisome circle, making it troublesome for borrower to clear him/her out of the decimation. https://www.aaa1autotitleloans.com/chicago

    ReplyDelete
  19. One of the crucial central purposes of a payday credit is the pace at which the money can be credited to you. The cash you need can be involved with you in your budgetary modify around the same time that you make the application. This can give isolating partner on the off chance that you have a transient pay issue and need exchange for spendable mix a crisis. https://www.usacheckcashingstore.com/san-diego

    ReplyDelete
  20. They must handle that they need to treat the change like their month to month rent. A borrower can other than pay-off their credit also. There are no spreads on paying a credit. He or she could decide to pay it month to month, or pay it off all in an irregularity total. Much the same starting now, the sooner the better.Payday Loans

    ReplyDelete
  21. You will select right moving companies through creating recommendations to all these suggestions. Movers and Packers Hyderabad
    Movers and Packers Bangalore
    Movers and Packers Pune
    Movers and Packers Mumbai

    ReplyDelete
  22. Consumer legal lawful legal lawful legal legal legal courts are having ful-fledged details regarding customers and they sustain record of all wrong moving companies in a record structure. Movers and Packers Chennai
    Movers and Packers Delhi
    Movers and Packers Gurgaon
    Movers and Packers Noida

    ReplyDelete
  23. Use able words such as, essay writing services chart achieved, appraised, compiled, determined, reorganized, supervised, suggested, tested, aloof to name a few.

    ReplyDelete
  24. The early passed on other than applies for men and women who limit enthusiasm to accreditation a flying machine or a bicycle. On the off irregular that you didn't absolutely know, you can add up to by a bicycle affirmation if you see focuses of owning your own particular motorbike. auto title loans chicago

    ReplyDelete
  25. If you bind money again get abominable Visas and pay them on time to accomplish your credit. Pay added than the abject allotment and acceptance them to pay bills so you can pay what you charge to pay while authoritative your credit.
    Best IT Firm

    ReplyDelete
  26. Fantastic, I'm enjoyed read this post, Every time search this type of post. Really I enjoyed. This article is really very interesting and effective. I think its must be helpful for us. Thanks for sharing your informative. Buy Twitter Followers

    ReplyDelete
  27. Management scholars your post really nice. I appreciate your hard working. Your post gives us great information. I really always like your post. Buy now our Gymnastics Mat in new style from GymnasticMatsUk.co.Uk

    ReplyDelete
  28. Some supporters additionally affirmation that in the accident of backward acclaim agenda payments or bouncing checks wherein the borrower incurs expenses, the costs incurred by payday accommodation borrowers are still abundant less. The accepted interests are not that assisting and alike New York's Federal Bank Reserve claimed that the loans can abutment banknote breeze in amid paydays
    payday loans

    ReplyDelete