In management research, the literature on practical relevance holds that practitioners actively construct practical relevance. However, the practitioners' perspective on relevance has received very little scholarly attention to date. This paper puts forward a theoretical model for examining how practitioners construct academic knowledge as practically relevant based on interviews with practitioners enrolled on executive MBA (EMBA) courses. The model shows that practitioners construct academic knowledge as relevant by (1) perceiving it as congruent with their context, experiences and intuition, (2) extending their knowledge by new instruments, constructs, and means of scientific framing and (3) reconnecting it to their contexts and professional practices. This model extends the literature by showing that, in order to be considered practically relevant, academic knowledge needs to balance novelty and continuity. Additionally, the paper shows that practitioners are unlikely to perceive as relevant ambiguous academic knowledge that is 'action expansive', i.e. that presents them with an overwhelming range of possible actions.