Bridging the Rigour-Relevance Gap at Copenhagen Business School? The Institutional Logics of Rigour and Relevance and the Pitfalls of Institutional Bricolage

Anders Ravn Sørensen

This paper adds to the existing literature that addresses the gap between academic rigour and business relevance in modern business education. I argue that the tension between relevance and rigour can be understood by applying the theoretical framework of institutional logics. By using the recent managerial crisis at Copenhagen Business School from 2009-2011 as an qualitative case study, I show how these conflicting logics combined into a new logic that encompassed elements from both the logic of relevance and the logic of rigour. However, while this new hybrid logic held the potential to bridge the rigour-relevance gap, the new ‘business in society’ logic promoted by CBS management proved unsuccessful because its associated strategy was openly skewed toward relevance at the expense of rigour. The case indicates that while the rigour-relevance gap might be amended by logics that combine elements of both, the attempt to create new hybrid logics also risk trigger existing logics and conflicting identities if the actual organizational practices and decisions fail to reflect the new hybrid logic.