Assessing the Societal Impact of Research: The Relational Engagement Approach

Julie L. Ozanne, Brennan Davis, Jeff B. Murray, Sonya Grier, Ahmed Benmecheddal, Hilary Downey, Akon E. 7kpo, Marion Garnier, Joel Hietanen, Marine Le Gall-Ely, Anastasia Seregina, Kevin D. Thomas, and Ekant Veer
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Key Takeaways

​What? Governments, academic institutions, and funding agencies increasingly want some form of accountability for the financial resources invested in academic research.

So What? A relational engagement approach proposes to nudge the production of knowledge products towards greater relevancy by including stakeholders in the creation process.

Now What? This research is a call to action for academic researchers to continue to do rigorous research but to pay equal attention to doing research that is relevant and applicable to the problems faced by the public, managers, and policy makers.

Executive Summary from the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing

A group of researchers offer a proposal for a relational engagement approach to doing research with high impact that works with external stakeholders in a process of co-learning.


Rather than painting an image of the researcher as the objective expert, we advocate new roles for the researcher as co-preneur, advocate, co-creator, and provocateur.

We believe more researchers should work with invested stakeholders sharing the power to define problems, create, and use knowledge that can benefit society.


Research Question

Governments, academic institutions, and funding agencies increasingly want some form of accountability for the financial resources invested in academic research. Yet assessing research impact is difficult and controversial. Traditional approaches to impact employ bibliometric measures and focus on the creation and use of journal articles by scholarly audiences, an important but incomplete part of the academic process.

Methods

We propose the relational engagement approach to research impact as complementary to traditional approaches. This approach argues that knowledge products created through persistent interactions among academics and other stakeholders are more likely to affect positive social change. Specifically, researchers employing relational engagement approaches work more directly with the external constituency whom they hope to serve, including consumers, marketing managers, and public policy makers.

Findings

We provide a framework for the strategies and measures of societal impact called the relational engagement approach. A relational engagement approach proposes to nudge the production of knowledge products towards greater relevancy by including stakeholders in the creation process.

Implications

This research is a call to action for academic researchers to continue to do rigorous research but to pay equal attention to doing research that is relevant and applicable to the problems faced by the public, managers, and policy makers.

Questions for the Classroom

  • What obligations do academic researchers have to produce knowledge that benefits society?

  • What metrics should be used to measure the societal benefits of research? 

  • Why do current metrics measuring the impact of research focus on bibliometric measures?


Article Citation: Julie L. Ozanne, Brennan Davis, Jeff B. Murray, Sonya Grier, Ahmed Benmecheddal, Hilary Downey, Akon E. Ekpo, Marion Garnier, Joel Hietanen, Marine Le Gall-Ely, Anastasia Seregina, Kevin D. Thomas, and Ekant Veer (2017) Assessing the Societal Impact of Research: The Relational Engagement Approach. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing: Spring 2017, Vol. 36, No. 1, pp. 1-14.

doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1509/jppm.14.121



Author Bio:

 
Julie L. Ozanne, Brennan Davis, Jeff B. Murray, Sonya Grier, Ahmed Benmecheddal, Hilary Downey, Akon E. 7kpo, Marion Garnier, Joel Hietanen, Marine Le Gall-Ely, Anastasia Seregina, Kevin D. Thomas, and Ekant Veer
Julie L. Ozanne is Professor of Marketing, Department of Marketing and Management, University of Melbourne (e-mail: julie.ozanne@unimelb.edu.au). Brennan Davis is Hood Professor of Marketing and Associate Professor of Marketing, Orfalea College of Business, California Polytechnic State University (e-mail: bdavis39@calpoly.edu). Jeff B. Murray is Chair of the Department of Marketing and Logistics, Sam M. Walton College of Business, University of Arkansas (e-mail: jmurray@walton.uark.edu). Sonya Grier is Professor of Marketing, Kogod School of Business, American University (e-mail: griers@american.edu). Ahmed Benmecheddal is a Research Fellow, SKEMA Business School, Université de Lille (e-mail: a.benmecheddal@gmail.com). Hilary Downey is Lecturer in Management, Queen’s University Management School, Queen’s University Belfast (e-mail: Hilary.downey@qub.ac.uk). Akon E. Ekpo is Assistant Professor of Marketing, Rutgers University (e-mail: akon.ekpo@rutgers.edu). Marion Garnier is Associate Professor in Marketing, SKEMA Business School, Université de Lille (e-mail: marion.garnier@skema.edu). Joel Hietanen is an Assistant Professor, Stockholm University (e-mail: johi@sbs.su.se). Marine Le Gall-Ely is Professor, Université de Bretagne Occidentale (e-mail: Marine.Legallely@univ-brest.fr). Anastasia Seregina is a doctoral candidate, Department of Marketing, Aalto University School of Business, Aalto University (e-mail: anastasia.seregina@aalto.fi). Kevin D. Thomas is Assistant Professor in Advertising and Public Relations, University of Texas at Austin (e-mail: kevin.thomas@utexas.edu). Ekant Veer is Associate Professor of Marketing, Department of Management, Marketing, and Entrepreneurship, University of Canterbury (e-mail: Ekant.veer@canterbury.ac.nz).
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