Guest Editors:

Einar Breivik, NHH Norwegian School of Economics

Sigurd Villads Troye, NHH Norwegian School of Economics

Background to the special issue

Research is the interplay between three domains (Brinberg and McGrath 1985): theories, methodological tools and the world we try to describe, understand and/or predict. To contribute to scientific progress, researchers who are primarily concerned with developing and testing theories should therefore stay abreast of developments in the methodological toolbox (Van Maanen 2007). Theoretically-oriented researchers should, however, also be aware of fundamental changes in the substantive domain (e.g. environmental challenges, changes in the use of social media, business models and organizational forms) that call for our attention and concern. Researchers who give primacy to methodological development should – on their side – develop tools that reflect the needs of researchers who prioritize development and testing of theories, and who sometimes apply them to new phenomena and contexts.

Ironically (and unfortunately!!), whereas scientific progress may require an integrative view and insight into developments both in the toolbox (e.g psychometrics) and in available theoretical models (Borsboom 2006), the sheer complexity and proliferation of theoretical models, research tools and substantive phenomena may result in the opposite: specialization, fragmentation and compartmentalization. Artificial simplicity obtained through specialization may appear to save us from overwhelming complexity. Fragmentation may to some extent result in impregnable boundaries between the three domains: Thus methodologists may stay away from theorizing and theoreticians may be ignorant of important and potentially useful methodological advances. Practitioners and applied researchers on their side may deliberately accept a self-imposed curfew that hinders useful insights into theoretical and methodological development.

Fragmentation and compartmentalization can also characterize the situation within each of the three domains. Cognitively oriented marketing researchers may ignore sociological theories. Quantitative researchers may not take advantage of the benefits of qualitative research. Some scientists may furthermore specialize in cross-sectional surveys when testing inherently causal models that might have benefitted from time series and experimental designs.

Types of submissions solicited

The modest goal for this special issue is to contribute to a better understanding of how we as individuals and research communities can facilitate the interplay between methodological tools, theory building and testing, and the turbulent changes in the world we try to grasp. We can achieve a better understanding of how to proceed by addressing issues like:

  • Do we need theories and methods that are more complex than we can handle?

  • How should we organize research?

  • How should we train doctoral students?

  • What research practices should be dramatically changed or should be used less or more often?

  • What approaches should be combined and how should it be done?

  • How should we do research that is not only more valid, but also less trivial? Is statistical significance more important than effect sizes and relevance?

  • Do national and institutional reward systems motivate quantity more than quality?

  • The issues may be addressed by the use of examples or by discussing principles for how to initiate and implement changes that should be done.

References

Borsboom, Denny (2006): The Attack of the Psychometricians, Psychometrika, 71(3), 425-40.

Brinberg and McGrath (1985): Validity and the Research Process, Sage Publications.

Van Maanen, John, Jesper B. Sørensen and Terrence R. Mitchell (2007): The Interplay between Theory and Method (Introduction to Special Topic Forum), Academy of Management Review, 32(4), 1145-54.

Submission process and deadlines

  • Papers will be reviewed according to Beta’s double-blind review process.

Deadline for submission is April 15, 2016.

  • Manuscripts should be submitted by e-mail to the guest editors at the following address: einar.breivik@nhh.no

  • Informal inquiries related to the Special Issue, proposed topics, and a potential fit with the Special Issue objectives are welcomed. Please direct any questions to the guest editors at the e-mail address above.