Bridging the Relevance Gap between Thematic Trends and Industry Relevance of Master of Business Administration Projects: The Double Helix of University – Industry Relation

Kennedy Ogollah, John Githii Kimani


Management research has been accused of a lack of relevance to managerial practice and of too narrow a discipline base. Its focus is the nature of knowledge created by research at the interface between business and academia in the context of major changes likely to affect the nature of demand for such knowledge. To this extend most business schools have developed research as a foundation of the MBA programmes that they offer. A significant aspect of an MBA which distinguishes it from its competitors is the content of its programme – the nature of its curriculum and how it meets the needs of business life. The main objective of this paper was to present the results of an empirical study which establishes the thematic trends and industry relevance of MBA projects in the school of business at the University of Nairobi. The study used secondary data which was collected from the report books at the University of Nairobi. Data was analyzed using content analysis and time series. Cohorts of 10 years were employed, with a total of 7,100 projects undertaken between 1974 and 2013.  The report examines the conditions giving rise to this criticism in Kenya and identifies an important strategic need to increase the stake holding of users in various aspects of the research, knowledge creation and dissemination process. Results from the study indicated that there was a positive trend in thematic research with social, economic and political aspects that impact on business management. This implies that a rise in the focus on a certain thematic trend was associated with a rise in another theme. This further implies an overall growth in the study of the various thematic areas. The report concludes with recommendations concerning new forms of research partnership and research training that will address the relevant gap. However, bridging this gap does not only require changes in the academic mind-set. Managers and firms too need to rethink their involvement in the research process.

Keywords: Management Research, MBA, Thematic trends, Industry relevance

Frequency of Publication: