Academic thought

Academics are frequently criticized for not having real-world knowledge. That is, they know all the theories and advise people on how they should run businesses or create policies, but have no real experience on what the consequences of implementing a policy would be.

Which brings me to the point. Last night I started the summer semester in a class on organizational communication. One of the authors, Eric M. Eisenberg, is a communications professor whose father was also a communications professor. In the About the Authors section, he noted a weakness in his experience:

Having been raised in a household with no links to corporate America, Eisenberg was intrigued by the possibility of learning about the “real world” of organizational communication.

Sounds like he realized he needed “real world” experience. He must have gone out into the corporate world and worked for large and small companies to develop first hand knowledge.
That sounds like a reasonable move. But Eisenberg decided the best way to get “real world” experience was to….go back to school!

Determined to become fluent in both management and communication, and under the expert guidance of Dr. Peter Monge, he immersed himself in management theory and practice, publishing work on organizational communication networks and superior-subordinate communications. Eisenberg received his doctorate in Communications from Michigan State university in 1982.

Eisenberg illustrates the logical flaw in academic thinking. The best way to get “real world” experience is self-evidently not to remove yourself from the real world. Yet for academics, it is the preferred method.