Universities provide ideal conditions within which eccentric personalities—learned but oft socially-challenged individuals with a tenuous connection with the real world—tend to congregate. The article Academic Tumbleweeds summarises the situation eloquently.
Over the years, I too have criticised those academics for whom the pursuit of knowledge is the end, because social ineptness, eccentricity and misguided thinking often follow. This is not to criticise universities per se, for they have a crucial role to play in society. By way of example, it is unhelpful, even perhaps unethical, for business school academics to pursue a neo-Marxist anti-business agenda—but that is how some, whose primary interest is the pursuit of knowledge, behave. It's almost a sport it seems.
One of my concerns in embarking on my journey was to avoid becoming caught by the stereotype—thus my decision to work from home and to intersperse other activities, in order to maintain contact with reality. These other activities have included a few teaching, facilitation and short advisory assignments, and a couple of board appointments. Is it a reasonable approach? No doubt the proof will come when the usefulness of my research is tested in the real world. Hopefully, it won't be found wanting and the somewhat derogatory academic tumbleweed label will not be required.
Thoughts on corporate governance, strategy and boardcraft; our place in the world; and other topics that catch my attention.