Musings on Accounting Research by Steve

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Practical relevance in research


I had an “a ha” moment today in attempting to explain why the individual research paper is NOT the unit to focus on for practice relevant knowledge.

If you know anyone who has back yard chickens ( normally hens) they will tell you in great gory detail about the inconsistency in egg laying among their hens. Some days they do not lay an egg and some days several! Let’s assume the same applies to commercial egg operations! The key point is that this is not relevant to the consumer of eggs. When they go to the grocery store they purchase eggs in boxes of six or twelve.

In other words the production function of individual hens and consumer purchase for consumption have little to do with each other except at farmers markets and speciality grocery stores (and my neighbour who goes without eggs for breakfast if no hen lays eggs that day).

We need to stop thinking that practical relevance is a product of a single academic article. Practical relevance is demonstrated by knowledge transfer to practitioners that synthesizes a body of relevant research articles for a practical problem. We all know in theory that one article does not generalize, so why do we find it so hard to see that the generalizability of research to practice is not in units of individual academic papers????

I think that it is due to those involved being producers, where every egg counts, rather than consumers that want to buy a half a dozen!

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