The relationship between theory and practice has been discussed in the social sciences for generations. Academics from management and organization studies regularly lament the divide between theory and practice. They regret the insufficient academic knowledge of managerial problems and their solutions, and criticize the scholarly production of theories that are not relevant for organizational practice (Hambrick 1994). Despite the prevalence of this topic in academic discourse, we do not know much about what kind of academic knowledge would be useful to practice, how it would be produced and how the transfer of knowledge between theory and practice actually works. In short, we do not know how we can make academic work more relevant for practice or even whether this would be desirable. In this introduction to the Special Issue, we apply philosophical, theoretical and empirical perspectives to examine the challenges of studying the generation and use of academic knowledge. We then briefly describe the contribution of the seven papers that were selected for this Special Issue. Finally, we discuss issues that still need to be addressed, and make some proposals for future avenues of research.