This book argues that we are currently witnessing not merely a decline in the quality of social science research, but the proliferation of meaningless research, of no value to society, and modest value to its authors - apart from securing employment and promotion.
The explosion of published outputs, at least in social science, creates a noisy, cluttered environment which makes meaningful research difficult, as different voices compete to capture the limelight even briefly. Older, more significant contributions are easily neglected, as the premium is to write and publish, not read and learn. The result is a widespread cynicism among academics on the value of academic research, sometimes including their own. Publishing comes to be seen as a game of hits and misses, devoid of intrinsic meaning and value, and of no wider social uses whatsoever. Academics do research in order to get published, not to say something socially meaningful. This is what we view as the rise of nonsense in academic research, which represents a serious social problem. It undermines the very point of social science.
This problem is far from "academic". It affects many areas of social and political life entailing extensive waste of resources and inflated student fees as well as costs to tax-payers. Part two of the book offers a range of proposals aimed at restoring meaning at the heart of social research and drawing social science back address the major problems and issues that face our societies.
About the Authors:
Mats Alvesson works at Lund University, Sweden and also at University of Queensland, Brisbane and City University, London. He is interested in critical theory, qualitative method, and organization studies. He has published about 30 books, including The Stupidity Paradox (Profile, with A Spicer), Managerial Lives (Cambridge University Press, with and S Sveningsson), Reflexive Leadership (Sage, with M Blom and S Sveningsson) and Reflexive Methodology (Sage, with J Skoldberg) and The Triumph of Emptiness (Oxford University Press).
Yiannis Gabriel is Professor of Organizational Theory at Bath University. Yiannis is known for his work into organizational storytelling and narratives, leadership, management learning and the culture, and politics of contemporary consumption. He has used stories as a way of studying numerous social and organizational phenomena including leader-follower relations, group dynamics and fantasies, nostalgia, insults and apologies. Another area of his work has been dedicated to developing a psychoanalytic approach to the study of organizations. He is Senior Editor of Organization Studies and author of nine books. His enduring fascination as a researcher lies in what he describes as the unmanageable qualities of life in and out of organizations.
Roland Paulsen is Assistant Professor at the Department of Business Administration, Lund University. He is the author of three books including Empty Labor: Idleness and Workplace Resistance (Cambridge University Press) where he addresses the mystery of why some employees can be very idle at work whereas others suffer from stress and work intensification. He has also studied and written about the Swedish workfare system.