The Academic-Practitioner Language Gap

Rob Jones
3 min readJul 28, 2022


#3. “Framing [interventions] as part of the (tedious and misplaced) practitioner/academic divide/gap debate.” — Prof. Org Psych, [RB], UK

A popular Organizational Psychology professor and consultant in the UK recognized that corporate interventions employing academics as consultants are a common problem-solving practice to find effective and positive changes in organizational social interaction. But there are constraints of consequence.

What is the “practitioner-academic divide?”

On the one hand, academicians who consult with corporations may promote broad and ranging theories they’ve formed or learned about. They may even use those theories to frame their organizational consulting proposals in ways that purport to address large-scale societal or global problems. The additional dilemma for the academician as a consultant is that neither the practitioner nor academician may possess a specific organization’s data, i.e., evidence, necessary to connect the theories to corporate realities and shift into praxis mode to develop practical applied solutions. (What constitutes evidence will be discussed in future posts.)

On the other hand, manager-practitioners recognize an internal dilemma. C-Suites aren’t generally comprised of theoreticians. Therefore organizational leaders tend to contract for interventions that address what they understand and can prove rather than what the organization may need. Business interventions that propose to have the “soft” internal benefit or broader beneficial societal effects may be seen as suspect, superfluous, reaching, and directing internal energies beyond the scope of immediate important organizational needs. To gain what is often referred to as “buy-in,” manager-practitioners may feel the need to frame proposed solution descriptions in language their CEOs will understand, resulting in proposal language that may not flange up with the final deliverable or accurately describe how the root problem will be addressed at lower levels of implementation.

In short, CEOs may feel no compulsion (incentive) to carry practitioners across the threshold of external “social” benefits. In that case, practitioners may theorize/pray for…

Rob Jones

A career spanning public, private, and nonprofit sectors. High-level management experience across a range of activities in F-500 companies and Consulting/Coach.