The Art of Management: Knowledge-Based Perspectives of Management Practice and Education

During the past one hundred years, a huge amount of academic research has been conducted on management and related topics such as administration, governance, leadership and strategy. In fact, a quick search on Google Scholar results in several millions of hits for each of the keywords mentioned. By now, we should have a fairly good understanding of what management is all about. The same holds true for management in general and for more specific aspects of management, such as knowledge management.

Outside academia, the leaders and managers of the real life organizations face the everyday challenges of the managerial work. Their work is filled with big and small issues – planning for the future and solving the current problems at hand. Managers deal with facts and figures as well as with people and emotions. Academic literature offers theories and empirical evidence that can aid managers in various situations. However, what managers actually do and how they do it cannot easily described or prescribed via theories.

The practice of management is at least to some degree an art, not a science. For example, according to Simon (1946, p. 67), “it may be objected that administration cannot aspire to be a ‘science’; that by the nature of its subject it cannot be more than an ‘art’”. Management is about the practical ability to solve problems, to take advantage of opportunities and to manage with various issues that emerge in a complex and changing environment. Theories and managerial models may help to understand how things work and to create strategies and operative plans. However, the success of managerial work is defined by how the manager acts and how those actions fit the organizational and environmental context.

Academic research on management aims to understand managerial work and to help managers to succeed in their tasks. However, nowadays the academia itself has become a very competitive field of business (Locke & Spender, 2011). Scholars compete with each other in order to get their publications accepted into the most respected journals. In order to get accepted into the top journals, your research needs to be “rigorous”. In practice, rigor often means that you should be able to produce a generalizable theory based on a large set of quantitative data which is analyzed using sophisticated statistical methods. Such kind of research can be very useful. However, a big part of actual management work involves context-specific aspects. Moreover, carrying out managerial tasks requires tacit knowledge and skill. Therefore, generic theories seldom help managers in specific contexts.

Some scholars have addressed the above-mentioned tension between management as a science and the practice of management as well as the related doubts about the relevance of management research (Bailey & Clarke, 2000; Locke and Spender, 2011; Lönnqvist, 2017). As university education is based on research this issue deals with teaching and learning as well: what are the theories and models – and practical skills – we should teach to future managers in order for them to be well equipped to cope with the challenges ahead? And, which could be the novel and effective ways to acquire practical management abilities, in addition to knowing concepts and theories? For example, in recent years, various art-based education approached have started to become popular means for creating a sense of the real life context.

This Special Issue aims to contribute on the discussion of how management research and education can better grasp and serve needs of the practice of management. A special focus is paid on the knowledge-perspective: it is important to pay attention to the type of knowledge we use to describe and prescribe the managerial work. Moreover, knowing what is going on and what could happen in the future are some of the core tasks of all managers. Therefore, knowledge management theories and practices are at the heart of all management work.

For this Special Issue, relevant themes include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • New approaches for management
  • New approaches for managing knowledge
  • New approaches for managing innovation
  • New methods for doing research on management
  • New theories on managerial practice
  • New approaches for management and leadership education.

Submission instructions

  • Deadline to submit papers for the SI: 20th May 2018
  • First review round by 30th July 2018
  • Second review round by 28 September 2018
  • Planned Publication:  February 2019

Editorial information

  • Principal Guest Editor: Antti Lönnqvist, University of Tampere, Faculty of Management Kanslerinrinne 1, 33014 Tampereen yliopisto(