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A Bridge Over Troubled Water: A Former Military Officer, Corporate Executive, and Business School Dean Discusses the Research-Practice Divide

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Journal of Management Inquiry

Published online on


In recent years, there has been a resurgence of concern regarding the gap between academic research and the ongoing daily practice of running businesses. In this article, we interview an individual who successfully made the transition not only from practice to research, but from military service to corporate life and then to academics. Professor Earl Walker is a retired U.S. Army Colonel who commanded armor units in Vietnam, worked as a corporate executive, and then transitioned into academic teaching and later academic administration. Over the course of his academic career, he has served as the dean of three business schools. In the interview, Walker describes his perceptions of the practice–research gap, revealing that it is in some ways smaller and other ways larger than others believe it to be.