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Education and Practice, Lifelong Partnership Published: Sunday, October 15, 2000 By: Dr. Manuel Angel Morales

During the last decade our consulting and research team has been making the feverous argument regarding the need for enlarging the understanding of business scholarship. The first dimension in this emerging and broader conception of business scholarship is the discovery of knowledge. The core claim is that the pursuit of knowledge within business organizations needs to be assiduously defended, particularly when confronted with traditional enterprises committed and concerned with whether something works over the short term than whether it is of lasting value.

If business scholarship it is going to progress in the next decade, executives, managers and professionals will have to recognize that the advancement of specialized knowledge is the source of competitive advantage. If not the future will not begin for some organizations. It is like talking a lot about the learning organization, but showing no signs of research and learning ventures within the given institutional setting.

The extension of the frontiers of knowledge is a dramatic fact. Thus, a challenge for business scholarship is the integration of knowledge within business organizations, an undertaking as critical to the understanding of the world and the market, as the discovery of knowledge and technology that is new. As a matter of fact, the extension of specialization itself requires new forms of integration. Without continuous and titanic efforts at reintegration organizations of all sorts will experience fragmentation. The need these days is for integrative leaders.

Organizations need of professionals with the capacity to synthesize, to look for new relationships between the parts and the whole, to relate the past and future to the present, and to ferret out patterns of meaning that cannot be seen through the traditional lenses of the status quo. As we have said before, there is a lot of teaching, researching and scholarship going on within some extraordinary organizations. The purpose is to truly develop the human capital and intellectual portfolio of the organization (as Bartty Gamundi says, this has to go hand to hand with social development), produce new knowledge and technology to propel innovations and enhance the decision-making process, and share the experience with the community, the society and the world.

The point is that the business scholarship dimension has three distinct elements: 1. a comprehensive capacity, the ability to draw the standards of the organization together in a way that provides coherence and meaning to the workplace promoting connections between the knower and the known; 2. the element of pedagogical content knowledge representing people as having the potential of becoming intellectuals-professionals; 3. finally there is the condition within organizations of forcing the question and the answer of what we truly know about learning.

Business scholarship is also that about practice, signifying a great effort to apply knowledge while dealing with concrete problems confronting such organizations. The lesson here is that the gap between what is valued as scholarship and the pragmatic needs of the larger world is closing very fast. From the development of this trend, there is an emerging recognition of the legitimacy of knowledge that emerges from practice. Research, theory and practice are complementary, all enriching and key components at the new management system. Interestingly enough knowledge can emerge from the complexity and rigors of practice, and that is why we are able to refer to usable knowledge within the context of the enterprise. 

Copyright 2000 QBS, Inc.

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