It was great to hear Alec Cameron, vice-chancellor and chief executive of Aston University, elaborate on the relationship between business schools and universities at the Chartered Association of Business Schools conference in Birmingham this month (“The role of business schools within universities”, Opinion, 6 November).
Three intertwined themes might benefit from being teased apart. First, business schools can and should cross-subsidise to some extent within universities. This may seem like heresy coming from within the business school community but, at some stage in the distant future, business schools may be in need of such cross-subsidy as fashions change. There should, however, be a collegiate conversation about the extent of the cross-subsidy.
Second, business and management research funding appears to be being squeezed out by other disciplines. The research council funding pattern should perhaps more accurately reflect the composition of the academic community that it funds, and the data that Bill Cooke cites in his recent letter (“The bottom line”, Letters, 16 November) suggests that this is not the case in the UK.
Third, the nature of the research conducted in business schools merits a debate. What proportion of funding should be directed towards studies that aim to “improve” the practice of running organisations successfully, and what proportion should be directed towards abstract studies about the process of organising?
Perhaps only by addressing all three strands concurrently will business schools and universities prosper in the medium term.