An Impact Conversation With Judith Walls and Garima Sharma
On the occasion of the first anniversary of the Impact Scholar Community, we invited Judith Walls (University of St. Gallen) and Assistant Professor Garima Sharma (Georgia State University) to reflect on how the impact landscape has changed for junior and senior scholars over the last decades. Both acknowledge that junior scholars, who used to only focus on publications, are now keen to make a real-life impact. Garima mentioned the urgency to address global societal challenges as one of the main reasons: “this recent pandemic has shown us that as scholars we cannot just sit by the sidelines, we have to jump in…and lead the way!”. Judith confirmed this observation: “We can’t spend 10 years getting our research out there when we only have 10 years left to solve climate change.”.
However, becoming an impact scholar does not happen overnight and can be very challenging. As Garima explained: “People think ‘impact’ as a huge event that will happen after receiving the tenure letter, but impact is a process, it’s every conversation you have with people outside academia, it’s how you orchestrate research.”. Therefore the Impact Scholar Community aims at ‘capacity building’ and ‘community building’ of junior scholars to help build the impact necessary muscles. But it is not only the establishment of organizations like the Impact Scholar Community, that initiate changes. Also, the job market has changed too, and making an impact is getting acknowledged and valued by educational institutions - the REF assessment in the UK and Financial Times rankings both emphasize impact. Furthermore, Journal editors are becoming more open, and the Business School accreditations are rapidly evolving.
The conversation between Judith and Garima shows that management scholarship is at the beginning of a major transformation. Junior and senior scholars alike do not only want to predict the future but instead want to create it. “I like the idea of ‘withness’ thinking and not ‘aboutness’ thinking. So we are not just studying about managers, but with managers.”: summarized Garima.
Please take a look at the complete conversation between Judith and Garima and get inspired!