Research that matters: How AACSB is pushing B schools to have a positive impact

AACSB’s Caryn Beck-Dudley: “We need less

The research that comes out of business schools is, by and large, far removed from the realities of real-world business – it is well known. In a nutshell, it has long been considered far too academic.

AACSB International wants to change that. The non-profit alliance for business education that accredits B schools aims to help business schools conduct research that has a positive impact on society.

Caryn Beck-Dudley, President and CEO of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, says it’s time for these schools to publish less research that is only read in the halls of higher education and more that deals with real world problems.

“We need less academic research and more research that is actually having a positive impact on society,” says Beck-Dudley.


The AACSB changed its business accreditation standards in 2020. It now requires schools to show they are creating positive and impactful research. On Tuesday, September 28, AACSB released a discussion paper with SAGE Publishing – a global academic publisher of books, journals, and a growing suite of library products and services – titled Research that matters: an action plan to create business school research that has a positive impact on society which includes the common components of impactful research and a five-step roadmap that business schools can use to produce research that leads to positive societal impact.

Most importantly, the document reinforces the role of the AACSB in leading business schools to place societal impact at the center of their mission and activities.

“This collaboration with Sage Publishing is really about giving schools ideas on what this might look like,” says Beck-Dudley.


According to the concept paper, there are three elements to conducting research that creates societal impact: research that is interdisciplinary, at the intersection of academia and practice, and that creates real change that is useful to people. stakeholders.

Beck-Dudley particularly emphasizes the importance of an interdisciplinary approach. “If I’m in my own silo, it’s hard to understand what’s going on and how my research can be used to help someone else’s research,” she says. “A lot of universities have stayed in their own tight silos and haven’t worked across multiple disciplines. Business schools can really change the world for the better. But we have to connect with other disciplines to do it.

As a member of the Responsible Research and Business Management group’s working committee for the past seven years, Beck-Dudley says she wants professors to devote 40 to 60 percent of their time to research. However, while this research speaks only to other academics, it often has no positive impact on society, unlike research aimed at solving a problem. To create change, Beck-Dudley explains that business schools need to focus on the world’s most pressing problems and use the expertise of professors to try to solve those problems.

“The most effective way to approach these issues is to collaborate with other people,” she says.

Climate change is a prime example of the need for interdisciplinary research, she adds.

“To tackle climate change, different disciplines need to work on its multiple aspects. If it was easy to solve, it already would have been, ”she says.

See the next page for more on the AACSB ‘Five Step Roadmap’ for More Useful Research in B Schools.

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