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Academics at play : Why the “publication game” is more than a metaphor

Butler, Nick LU and Spoelstra, Sverre LU (2018) 78th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, AOM 2018
Abstract

It is increasingly common for academic work to be described as a ‘publication game’. For some, the idea of academic game-playing serves as a convenient metaphor for explaining concrete phenomenon such as professional advancement or instrumental careerism in the context of national research assessments such as the recent Research Excellence Framework (REF) in the UK. However, we suggest that academic game-playing should not solely be understood in metaphorical terms. Rather, we propose that many of the attributes of play – as articulated by play theorists – can be usefully applied to understand and problematize academic research under the contemporary ‘regime of excellence’. Drawing on extensive interviews with critical management... (More)

It is increasingly common for academic work to be described as a ‘publication game’. For some, the idea of academic game-playing serves as a convenient metaphor for explaining concrete phenomenon such as professional advancement or instrumental careerism in the context of national research assessments such as the recent Research Excellence Framework (REF) in the UK. However, we suggest that academic game-playing should not solely be understood in metaphorical terms. Rather, we propose that many of the attributes of play – as articulated by play theorists – can be usefully applied to understand and problematize academic research under the contemporary ‘regime of excellence’. Drawing on extensive interviews with critical management scholars, we argue that academia is characterized by a ‘lusory attitude’ towards research; this means that scholars relate to their work as players relate to a game. Ultimately, we seek to show how the separation between ‘mere’ game-playing and ‘real’ research is not possible to maintain in practice. In doing so, we also problematize the ‘separation thesis’ in play theory, which holds that play, by its very nature, is strictly separated from ‘reality’.

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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to conference
publication status
published
subject
conference name
78th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, AOM 2018
conference location
Chicago, United States
conference dates
2018-08-10 - 2018-08-14
external identifiers
  • scopus:85054567850
DOI
10.5465/AMBPP.2018.32
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
5fbc20f2-c67a-4f26-bf66-00ecf1600015
date added to LUP
2018-11-13 09:03:51
date last changed
2019-02-20 11:35:24
@misc{5fbc20f2-c67a-4f26-bf66-00ecf1600015,
  abstract     = {<p>It is increasingly common for academic work to be described as a ‘publication game’. For some, the idea of academic game-playing serves as a convenient metaphor for explaining concrete phenomenon such as professional advancement or instrumental careerism in the context of national research assessments such as the recent Research Excellence Framework (REF) in the UK. However, we suggest that academic game-playing should not solely be understood in metaphorical terms. Rather, we propose that many of the attributes of play – as articulated by play theorists – can be usefully applied to understand and problematize academic research under the contemporary ‘regime of excellence’. Drawing on extensive interviews with critical management scholars, we argue that academia is characterized by a ‘lusory attitude’ towards research; this means that scholars relate to their work as players relate to a game. Ultimately, we seek to show how the separation between ‘mere’ game-playing and ‘real’ research is not possible to maintain in practice. In doing so, we also problematize the ‘separation thesis’ in play theory, which holds that play, by its very nature, is strictly separated from ‘reality’.</p>},
  author       = {Butler, Nick and Spoelstra, Sverre},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Chicago, United States},
  title        = {Academics at play : Why the “publication game” is more than a metaphor},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.5465/AMBPP.2018.32},
  year         = {2018},
}