Top-rated British business research: has the emperor got any clothes?

Richard Lilford, F Dobbie, Roderic Warren, David Braunholtz, R Boaden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)


Business schools have great prestige and charge large amounts of money for their courses. But how good is the science on which they base their prescriptions for action? To find out we examined the published output from the only three British business schools with the highest (5*) research assessment ranking at the time the articles were published. We conclude that theory development and model construction are often elegant. However, the methods used to obtain primary empirical information to confirm or refute the theories or populate models are poor, at least from a positivist or pragmatic ontological perspective. Large scale comparative studies made up only a small proportion of research output from the business schools. Literature reviews were not systematic. The sampling frame and rationale for selection of cases for study are inadequately described. The methods of data collection were frequently not given in sufficient detail to enable the study to be replicated and the conclusions tended to go far beyond what the data by themselves could support. However, this does not have to be the case-there are excellent examples of research in social sciences. We conclude, therefore, that top-rated British business research is a scantily clad emperor.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-54
Number of pages8
JournalHealth Services Management Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2003


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