After the BSIS process of the Corvinus Business School, we realised how narrow-mindedly we think of our intellectual impact at the university. We had only focused on what was expected of us: high-quality scientific publications. The BSIS process highlighted the desirability of going beyond this interpretation of impact. We were prompted to examine what real impact our research has on our students, on businesses around us, on social organisations, local actors and finally on society as a whole.
However, judging the real impact is a huge challenge not only at the institutional but also at the personal level. We organised an international workshop with nearly 40 researchers from six nations: Hungarian, Polish, Czech, French, German and Brazilian. The discussions revolved around three world café tables. The first table dealt with personal impact, where participants shared stories about how they felt their research impact moved beyond the scientific discipline. The second table talked about our roles through which we generate intellectual impact. And the third focused on tools that help us make our impact more meaningful and to communicate it more effectively. The lively conversations around the tables revealed some interesting relationships on the subject.
The intellectual impact of our research moves way beyond the narrow scope of scientific publications. This happens in various instances, let’s have a look at them:
- When the focus of our research is to influence the world around us (e.g. action research to support the business solutions of a transition town movement);
- when we incorporate the results of our research into our teaching (e.g. our students participating in scientific competitions)
- when the results are built into everyday business practices (e.g. turning athletic clubs living off state support to sustainable businesses);
- when our research reaches a wider audience and changes the way they think of a particular topic (e.g. publishing in newspapers in comprehensible language);
- when our co-operation in research move to more in-depth levels (e.g. international research groups influencing each other culturally).
Every single day we are consciously or unconsciously active in hundreds of different roles which act as “mediators” of the intellectual impact of our research. During the workshop, many of those roles and their interrelationships were discussed. Most commonly we see ourselves naturally as researchers, tutors, mentors, parents, activists, consultants, citizens… But here are some of the more interesting ones that came up in the conversations: dreamers, survival experts, learners, zoon politikons, grantors, influencers, guardians, pathfinders, network nodes, employees, university administrators and leaders. The list goes on: social imaginaries, independent critical thinkers, (ex-) business people. Most of these roles heavily support each other in having a real intellectual impact while some may become constraints.
While measuring scientific impact is possible, the measurement of real intellectual impact is hugely difficult. Changing the behaviour or thoughts of others (individuals, companies, industry, politicians, etc.) can be a significant impact but to isolate our own from other influences is virtually impossible. We also need to see more clearly whether we want to have an impact on competitiveness and GDP or happiness and equality. The two sometimes do not correlate. However, consciously seeking answers to these questions may be the first step in the right direction.
To find out more about possible outcomes of the BSIS process, join us at the BSIS Symposium where Alexandra and other BSIS schools will be presenting best practice.
Alexandra Köves, PhD
Assistant Professor and BSIS coordinator, Department of Decision Sciences, Corvinus Business School, Corvinus University of Budapest