Why is management research irrelevant?

Lauri Koskela

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


At least since 1980, there has been a practically continuous, but somewhat fragmented discussion on the relevance of management research. This discussion has addressed practically all fields of management; here, besides general management, operations management, project management and construction management are examined in more detail. Although many different proposals have been made to rectify the situation, no definitive resolution has been found. In this paper, it is argued that prior analyses have not reached the root causes of the irrelevance problem. By an analysis of the recent history of management research, the following novel findings are reached. First, the root cause of the irrelevance is argued to lie in the 1959 reports on American business education, written by Pierson and Gordon & Howell. Second, while the proposed direction in the 1959 reports was deficient in several ways, the rejection of production as an integral part of organizations and management has been perhaps the most damaging feature of those reports. Third, current research on management suffers from a variety of immediate causes for irrelevance, insufficiently recognized by the scholarly community. It is suggested that reaching the root causes for irrelevance will facilitate finding suitable cures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-23
Number of pages20
JournalConstruction Management and Economics
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


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