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Peter Vaill (1936-2020) was a retired professor of managerial leadership, living in Minneapolis, MN and enjoying “assisted living.” His career began in 1960 at the Harvard Business School where, from the very beginning, he was taught the interdependence of theory and practice. Theory was continually challenged and enriched by the realities of Practice; Practice was continually challenged and enriched by the discoveries and clarifications of Theory.


In the long run it could be no other way. But in the shorter run, as Peter was to discover in his 50-year career at five different universities, it was possible for things to get quite out of balance. In what has become the case, Theory is the dominant force; Practice is nowhere publicly to be found – though of course is very much alive in the experience of millions of hardworking people in all walks of life. Peter was all about redressing the balance, in showing that Practice has a depth and complexity every bit as fascinating as Theory – a depth and complexity that Theory could learn a lot from! 

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