Closing the Gap: A Polemic on Plant-based Research in Operations Management

Hill, Terry, Nicholson, Alistair and Westbrook, Roy (1999) Closing the Gap: A Polemic on Plant-based Research in Operations Management. International Journal of Operations and Production Management, 19 (2). pp. 139-156.


There has been a growing call from within the operations management (OM) academic community for research of more managerial relevance. This has implied a greater emphasis on empirical research: surveys, cases, and action research. But in fact these types are quite different. However, the great majority of empirical OM work published is based on postal surveys and/or interviewing executives, where research method selection is made for reasons of practical convenience and academic expectation. Given the level of complexity involved in understanding the OM perspective of business issues then the emphasis should be placed on plant-based research. Conducting research on-site and investigation through the analysis of relevant data, issues, developments and events ensures relevance and a validity essential to making an impact on business practice. There are obstacles to increasing the amount of plant-based research which is carried out, such as practical and personal difficulties, a mistaken concern over research rigour, and academic institutional inertia. Each of these needs to be overcome if OM research is to influence business practice more in the future than it has in the past.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Empirical study; operations management
Subject(s): Operations management
Centre: Faculty of Operations Management
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2012 21:08
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2015 14:06

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