Within the social sciences, do prevailing notions of excellence get in the way of societal responsibility and impact? Is one the precondition for the other? Does attention to ‘social responsibility’ suggest a ‘dumbing down’ of research? And what is the relationship between societal impact and social responsibility?
There is no shortage of questions regarding the ‘impact’ of the social sciences and the linkage with notions of ‘excellence’. In this presentation, I will first of all introduce some contemporary perspectives on this relationship before considering the particular case of business and management research. As I will suggest, recent debates over whether business schools have ‘lost their way’ may be significant for the broader social sciences and also for contemporary discussions over the aims and identity of the university. Questions of the purpose of social scientific research are over-loaded with multiple and competing certainties. But this overloading is both a burden and an opportunity.
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