Challenges of Engaged Indigenous Scholarship
by Andrew H. Van de Ven, Univ. of Minnesota, USA, [email protected]
Alan D. Meyer, School of Business, Univ. of Oregon, Eugene, OR, USA, [email protected]
Runtian T. Jing, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China, [email protected]
Management and Organization Review (MOR) is announcing a renewed initiative that seeks to encourage and publish research reporting engaged indigenous scholarship in China. MOR invites empirical as well as conceptual studies of indigenous phenomena related to management and organizations. We encourage scholars to attend paper development workshops to refine papers for submission to a forthcoming MOR special issue on engaged indigenous scholarship.
Our essay in the latest issue of MOR examines some of the opportunities and challenges in undertaking engaged indigenous scholarship on organization and management issues. We view ‘indigenous research’ as scientific studies of local phenomena using local language, local subjects, and locally meaningful constructs, with the aim to build or test theories that can explain and predict the phenomena in their local social and cultural contexts Engaged indigenous scholarship is a participative form of research that incorporates the views of key stakeholders (local academics, practitioners, policy makers) in each step of the research process: problem formulation, theory building, research design, and problem solving. Scholars can significantly increase the likelihood of producing knowledge that advances theory and practice by engaging stakeholders whose perspectives are relevant to understand a complex problem in its particular context.
Engaged indigenous scholarship provides a constructive way to address many of the problems that critics have raised about indigenous research. We attempt to sidestep ideological acrimony, and situate MOR’s initiative in a “third space” that celebrates pluralism and diversity among indigenous voices, and that scholars will find convivial and inclusive. Engaged scholarship offers a constructive way to study indigenous knowledge that addresses local social problems. By engaging, honoring, and including multiple stakeholders, the interests and concerns of both academic and lay critics of indigenous research can be addressed.
Engaged indigenous scholarship is critically important for the development of management knowledge that expresses and celebrates the unique social and cultural contexts of different countries and regions. Encouraging indigenous management theories and research methods is critical for increasing the variation and heterogeneity of management knowledge, and enhancing its validity and practical application. Instead of homogenizing management research by adapting and applying foreign theories and methods that gloss over local contexts, MOR seeks to encourage heterogeneity and relevance by developing indigenous management theories, methods, and institutions.
Engaged indigenous scholarship provides indigenous scholars a career strategy for building on their strengths because it focuses on studying topics whose origins and meanings arise from the local cultures and contexts that they know best and to which they have direct access. This is a central founding objective of the International Association for Chinese Management Research, and its journal, Management and Organization Review.