By Prof Christoph Dörrenbächer, Editor of Critical Perspectives on International Business
This is the third year in a row in which the critical perspectives on international business (cpoib) prize at the AIB UKI conference was not awarded. The prize is awarded for ‘the most innovative paper which tackles a new or under-researched topic and which contributes to the understanding of the impact of international business on society’.
In one year, we did not hand out the prize on request of one co-author of the nominated paper who was a central figure in the organizing committee of that year’s AIB UKI conference. In the two other years, the shortlist of the three best-ranked papers provided by the organizing committee of the AIB UKI conference did not allow for a nomination due to a missing fit with the criteria for the prize. Even extending the list to the top 10 ranked papers did not lead to a positive result.
Does this mean we ask for something impossible? For sure, asking for a new or under-researched topic that contributes to the understanding of the impact of international business on society is a double hurdle. But while a decent number of papers that applied in the past for the cpoib award dealt with new and under-researched topics, hardly any paper aimed at understanding the impact of international business activity on society. This is astonishing, as calls for more societal relevance of IB research have been around for long – it is now almost 30 years since the debate about the ‘future of IB’ took off. More recently, this debate and the calls for more societal relevance of IB research seem to gain steam. A number of contributions claim that IB researchers should (re)engage with the real world (Delios, 2017) and tackle ‘societies’ grand challenges’ (Buckley, Doh, and Benischke, 2017).
Does this imply that we have to wait yet another year for submissions to the next AIB UKI conference? I guess not. I rather go with Jonathan Doh’s (2017) argument that scholarly outlets in IB are often not interested in publishing more applied direct and relevant insights. cpoib surely is interested in and does publish such research. But so far, the journal is not on the radar of many IB scholars. A recent investigation* into who writes for cpoib and who cites papers published there found that cpoib is well recognized outside the IB discipline, e.g. in general management, business ethics and organization studies. At the same time, recognition from within the IB field is weak. It is often scholars at a more mature career development stage who publish there; those who can afford publishing in a CABS 2* journal. Here is where we need to take action. We (those who work for the journal) need to intensify our efforts to make cpoib better known in the IB scholarly field and move up the rankings. At the same time, we hope that more scholars interested in a societally engaged IB will consider cpoib as a useful outlet to publish their research. This will turn the nomination for the cpoib award from a hopeless endeavour today to a research competition that matters.
*Dörrenbächer C. and Gammelgaard, J. (2019), “Critical and mainstream international business research. Making critical IB an integral part of a societally engaged international business discipline”, Critical perspectives on international business, issue 2/3, forthcoming