During the past decade, increasing administrative responsibilities forced me to grapple with how managerial research might be made more impactful for students, practitioners and policy-makers. My newly-constrained research attention turned toward the idea of redirecting and integrating our field’s research trajectories. I found myself questioning not only my own research training to pursue novel ideas with proprietary “hand-collected” data, but also challenging the value of projects set in contexts that privilege causal inference at the expense of clear connections to today’s key managerial questions.
As management scholars, we recognize that our individual and collective research trajectories are strongly shaped by evaluation processes at our universities and our journals, which means any progress toward greater impact would require systemic change among disconnected actors – a social movement of sorts. I began this quest by enlisting Dan Levinthal – an eminent scholar as well as an experienced department chair, journal editor, and journal founder – as a partner. Motivated by our burgeoning academic interest in generalizability, we drafted a working paper and solicited feedback from eleven prominent scholars of organization and strategy. Collectively, these scholars represent multiple methodological approaches, span multiple levels of analysis. and have significant editorial and administrative experience. Their energy and enthusiasm prompted us to host a live discussion on the issue of collective impact in management research, and everyone participated – a 100% acceptance rate!
We chose the term salon to evoke the historical gatherings of intellectuals committed to sharing and advancing knowledge on selected topics or fields. The spontaneous interaction among salon attendees at a time when ideas diffused more slowly was celebrated and thought to inspire innovation and progress. Many of these gatherings became known by their hosts’ names since they were often held in the physical salon (today’s living room or parlor) of the host’s home. In a similar spirit, our salon participants began calling themselves FOLD as in “Friends of Lori and Dan” – rather than our original naming convention of FOCI for “Friends of Collective Impact”.
Our first salon, held virtually in January 2021, was lively and interactive – we found that while everyone shared similar concerns about the vitality of our field, opinions diverged on the avenues by which to focus on increasing impact. Seven sessions later, our salon remains vibrant and strong. One avenue we all agreed on was to create a broader conversation by sharing our perspectives on this Collective Impact Virtual Salon site. We hope our posts inspire your commentary to build on our discussions, and perhaps even motivate other parallel salon-type efforts. Welcome and enjoy!