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A Researcher’s Toolkit for Observational Methods  

Michael G. Pratt and Gabriel R. Sala

Central to all empirical research—in particular, inductive qualitative field research—observations can provide core insights to work practices, the physical or material elements of organizations, and the integrity of research informants. Yet management research has devoted less attention to observations than it has to other methods. Hence, providing resources and guidance to current and aspiring researchers as to what constitutes observations and how to tackle key questions that must be addressed in designing and implementing observations is key. Observing, as pertains to research, can be defined as a method that involves using one’s senses, guided by one’s attention, to gather information on, for example, (a) what people are doing (acts, activities, events); (b) where they are doing it (location); and (c) what they are doing it with (objects), over a period of time. Once researchers have determined they want to engage in observation, they have to make several decisions. First, they have to figure out whether observation is a good fit with their study and research question(s). If so, various other choices must be made with regard to degree of revelation, degree of immersion, time in the field, and how to be present in the research context, and still more choices follow. Researchers need to decide when to start (and stop) observing as well as how to observe, record, and report their findings. The article provides a decision-tree model of observational methods to guide researchers through these various choices.


Artificial Intelligence and Entrepreneurship Research  

Martin Obschonka and Christian Fisch

Advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) are intensively shaping businesses and the economy as a whole, and AI-related research is exploding in many domains of business and management research. In contrast, AI has received relatively little attention within the domain of entrepreneurship research, while many entrepreneurship scholars agree that AI will likely shape entrepreneurship research in deep, disruptive ways. When summarizing both the existing entrepreneurship literature on AI and potential avenues for future research, the growing relevance of AI for entrepreneurship research manifests itself along two dimensions. First, AI applications in the real world establish a distinct research topic (e.g., whether and how entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial ventures use and develop AI-based technologies, or how AI can function as an external enabler that generates and enhances entrepreneurial outcomes). In other words, AI is changing the research object in entrepreneurship research. The second dimension refers to drawing on AI-based research methods, such as big data techniques or AI-based forecasting methods. Such AI-based methods open several avenues for researchers to gain new, influential insights into entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial ventures that are more difficult to assess using traditional methods. In other words, AI is changing the research methods. Given that, so far, human intelligence could not fully uncover and comprehend the secrets behind the entrepreneurial process that is so deeply embedded in uncertainty and opportunity, AI-supported research methods might achieve new breakthrough discoveries. We conclude that the field needs to embrace AI as a topic and research method more enthusiastically while maintaining the essential research standards and scientific rigor that guarantee the field’s well-being, reputation, and impact.


Board Processes and Performance: The Impact of Directors’ Social and Human Capital  

Morten Huse

What do we know about actual board behavior and board performance? How can we develop our knowledge about board processes and board members’ capabilities? As a research field grows into maturity, we learn to see nuances, and the vocabulary used becomes richer and more detailed. However, the development of a consistent and nuanced language in research about board processes and performance is lagging behind. How have research streams and individual scholars influenced how we do research today, and why are these stories not included in most of the published literature reviews on this topic? What distinguishes research about boards and governance from various disciplines? How do we find research about board processes and board capital, and how has groundbreaking research on the human side of corporate governance developed? Groundbreaking research of Myles Mace was conducted more than half a decade ago, and we need to understand what has taken place after the seminal 1989 contribution of Zahra and Pearce. Research about actual board behavior and processes were not for decades published in leading management and strategy journals. Most published research about board processes and board capital is formulaic, leans on proxies rather than direct observation, and has only incremental if any practical contributions. A message is thus that we should strive for more groundbreaking studies that challenge existing knowledge and practice, including our research practice. A research agenda about board processes and board capital should be influenced by some of the following suggestions: • It should go beyond formulaic and incremental studies. We should challenge existing wisdom and practice and search for alternative ways of doing research. • It should include more processual studies rather than archival data studies using proxies. • We should learn from the scholars doing groundbreaking research before us. • We should learn by comparing experiences from various types of organizations. • We must include lessons and publications not found in leading English-language journals. • We should apply a sharing philosophy and a programmatic approach in which we as researchers contribute to developing future generations of scholars.


Business Research Process  

James A. Muncy and Alice M. Muncy

Business research is conducted by both businesspeople, who have informational needs, and scholars, whose field of study is business. Though some of the specifics as to how research is conducted differs between scholarly research and applied research, the general process they follow is the same. Business research is conducted in five stages. The first stage is problem formation where the objectives of the research are established. The second stage is research design. In this stage, the researcher identifies the variables of interest and possible relationships among those variables, decides on the appropriate data source and measurement approach, and plans the sampling methodology. It is also within the research design stage that the role that time will play in the study is determined. The third stage is data collection. Researchers must decide whether to outsource the data collection process or collect the data themselves. Also, data quality issues must be addressed in the collection of the data. The fourth stage is data analysis. The data must be prepared and cleaned. Statistical packages or programs such as SAS, SPSS, STATA, and R are used to analyze quantitative data. In the cases of qualitative data, coding, artificial intelligence, and/or interpretive analysis is employed. The fifth stage is the presentation of results. In applied business research, the results are typically limited in their distribution and they must be addressed to the immediate problem at hand. In scholarly business research, the results are intended to be widely distributed through journals, books, and conferences. As a means of quality control, scholarly research usually goes through a double-blind review process before it is published.


Careless Responding and Insufficient Effort Responding  

Jason L. Huang and Zhonghao Wang

Careless responding, also known as insufficient effort responding, refers to survey/test respondents providing random, inattentive, or inconsistent answers to question items due to lack of effort in conforming to instructions, interpreting items, and/or providing accurate responses. Researchers often use these two terms interchangeably to describe deviant behaviors in survey/test responding that threaten data quality. Careless responding threatens the validity of research findings by bringing in random and systematic errors. Specifically, careless responding can reduce measurement reliability, while under specific circumstances it can also inflate the substantive relations between variables. Numerous factors can explain why careless responding happens (or does not happen), such as individual difference characteristics (e.g., conscientiousness), survey characteristics (e.g., survey length), and transient psychological states (e.g., positive and negative affect). To identify potential careless responding, researchers can use procedural detection methods and post hoc statistical methods. For example, researchers can insert detection items (e.g., infrequency items, instructed response items) into the questionnaire, monitor participants’ response time, and compute statistical indices, such as psychometric antonym/synonym, Mahalanobis distance, individual reliability, individual response variability, and model fit statistics. Application of multiple detection methods would be better able to capture careless responding given convergent evidence. Comparison of results based on data with and without careless respondents can help evaluate the degree to which the data are influenced by careless responding. To handle data contaminated by careless responding, researchers may choose to filter out identified careless respondents, recode careless responses as missing data, or include careless responding as a control variable in the analysis. To prevent careless responding, researchers have tried utilizing various deterrence methods developed from motivational and social interaction theories. These methods include giving warning, rewarding, or educational messages, proctoring the process of responding, and designing user-friendly surveys. Interest in careless responding has been growing not only in business and management but also in other related disciplines. Future research and practice on careless responding in the business and management areas can also benefit from findings in other related disciplines.


Case Study Research: A State-of-the-Art Perspective  

Eric Volmar and Kathleen M. Eisenhardt

Theory building from case studies is a research strategy that combines grounded theory building with case studies. Its purpose is to develop novel, accurate, parsimonious, and robust theory that emerges from and is grounded in data. Case research is well-suited to address “big picture” theoretical gaps and dilemmas, particularly when existing theory is inadequate. Further, this research strategy is particularly useful for answering questions of “how” through its deep and longitudinal immersion in a focal phenomenon. The process of conducting case study research includes a thorough literature review to identify an appropriate and compelling research question, a rigorous study design that involves artful theoretical sampling, rich and complete data collection from multiple sources, and a creative yet systematic grounded theory building process to analyze the cases and build emergent theory about significant phenomena. Rigorous theory building case research is fundamentally centered on strong emergent theory with precise theoretical logic and robust grounding in empirical data. Not surprisingly then, theory building case research is disproportionately represented among the most highly cited and award-winning research.


Citizen Science and Crowd Science  

Marion K. Poetz and Henry Sauermann

Citizen science and crowd science (CS) projects involve members of the public who participate in response to an open call and who can perform a broad range of research tasks. Scholars using the citizen science lens focus on the fact that many participants do not have formal scientific training, while scholars using the crowd science lens emphasize that participants are often recruited through an open call. CS projects have resulted in large-scale data sets, novel discoveries, and top-tier publications (i.e., scientific impact), but they can also have large societal and practical impacts by increasing the relevance of research or accomplishing other objectives such as science education and building awareness. The diverse landscape of CS projects reflects five underlying paradigms that capture different rationales for involving crowds and that require different organizational setups: crowd volume, broadcast search, user crowds, community production, and crowd wisdom. Within each CS project, the breadth of crowd involvement can be mapped along stages of the research process (e.g., formulating research questions, designing methods, collecting data). Within each stage, the depth of crowd involvement can be mapped with respect to four general types of contributions: activities, knowledge, resources, and decisions. Common challenges of CS projects relate to recruiting and engaging participants, organizational design, resource requirements, and ensuring the quality of contributions. Opportunities for future research include research on the costs and boundary conditions of CS as well as systematic assessments of different aspects of performance and how they relate to project characteristics. Future research should also investigate the role of artificial intelligence both as worker who can take over tasks from crowd members and as manager who can help organize CS activities.


Constructs and Measures in Stakeholder Management Research  

James Mattingly and Nicholas Bailey

Stakeholder strategies, or firms’ approaches to stakeholder management, may have a significant impact on firms’ long-term prosperity and, thereby, on their life chances, as established in the stakeholder view of the firm. A systematic literature review surveyed the contemporary body of quantitative empirical research that has examined firm-level activities relevant to stakeholder management, corporate social responsibility, and corporate social performance, because these three constructs are often conflated in literature. A search uncovered 99 articles published in 22 journals during the 10-year period from 2010 to 2019. Most studies employed databases reporting environmental, social, and governance (ESG) ratings, originally created for use in socially responsible investing and corporate risk assessment, but others employed content analysis of texts and primary surveys. Examination revealed a key difference in the scoring of data, in that some studies aggregated numerous indicators into a single composite index to indicate levels of stakeholder management, and other studies scored more articulated constructs. Articulated constructs provided richer observations, including governance and structural arrangements most likely to provide both stakeholder benefits and protections. Also observed were constraining influences of managerial and market myopia, sustaining influences from resilience and complexity frameworks, and recognition that contextual variables are contingencies having impact in recognizing the efficacy of stakeholder management strategies.


Content and Text Analysis Methods for Organizational Research  

Rhonda K. Reger and Paula A. Kincaid

Content analysis is to words (and other unstructured data) as statistics is to numbers (also called structured data)—an umbrella term encompassing a range of analytic techniques. Content analyses range from purely qualitative analyses, often used in grounded theorizing and case-based research to reduce interview data into theoretically meaningful categories, to highly quantitative analyses that use concept dictionaries to convert words and phrases into numerical tables for further quantitative analysis. Common specialized types of qualitative content analysis include methods associated with grounded theorizing, narrative analysis, discourse analysis, rhetorical analysis, semiotic analysis, interpretative phenomenological analysis, and conversation analysis. Major quantitative content analyses include dictionary-based approaches, topic modeling, and natural language processing. Though specific steps for specific types of content analysis vary, a prototypical content analysis requires eight steps beginning with defining coding units and ending with assessing the trustworthiness, reliability, and validity of the overall coding. Furthermore, while most content analysis evaluates textual data, some studies also analyze visual data such as gestures, videos and pictures, and verbal data such as tone. Content analysis has several advantages over other data collection and analysis methods. Content analysis provides a flexible set of tools that are suitable for many research questions where quantitative data are unavailable. Many forms of content analysis provide a replicable methodology to access individual and collective structures and processes. Moreover, content analysis of documents and videos that organizational actors produce in the normal course of their work provides unobtrusive ways to study sociocognitive concepts and processes in context, and thus avoids some of the most serious concerns associated with other commonly used methods. Content analysis requires significant researcher judgment such that inadvertent biasing of results is a common concern. On balance, content analysis is a promising activity for the rigorous exploration of many important but difficult-to-study issues that are not easily studied via other methods. For these reasons, content analysis is burgeoning in business and management research as researchers seek to study complex and subtle phenomena.


Control Variables in Management Research  

Guclu Atinc and Marcia J. Simmering

The use of control variables to improve inferences about statistical relationships in data is ubiquitous in management research. In both the micro- and macro-subfields of management, control variables are included to remove confounding variance and provide researchers with an enhanced ability to interpret findings. Scholars have explored the theoretical underpinnings and statistical effects of including control variables in a variety of statistical analyses. Further, a robust literature surrounding the best practices for their use and reporting exists. Specifically, researchers have been directed to report more detailed information in manuscripts regarding the theoretical rationale for the use of control variables, their measurement, and their inclusion in statistical analysis. Moreover, recent research indicates the value of removing control variables in many cases. Although there is evidence that articles recommending best practices for control variables use are increasingly being cited, there is also still a lag in researchers following recommendations. Finally, there are avenues for valuable future research on control variables.


Corporate Ethics  

Thomas Donaldson and Diana C. Robertson

Serious research into corporate ethics is nearly half a century old. Two approaches have dominated research; one is normative, the other empirical. The former, the normative approach, develops theories and norms that are prescriptive, that is, ones that are designed to guide corporate behavior. The latter, the empirical approach, investigates the character and causes of corporate behavior by examining corporate governance structures, policies, corporate relationships, and managerial behavior with the aim of explaining and predicting corporate behavior. Normative research has been led by scholars in the fields of moral philosophy, theology and legal theory. Empirical research has been led by scholars in the fields of sociology, psychology, economics, marketing, finance, and management. While utilizing distinct methods, the two approaches are symbiotic. Ethical and legal theory are irrelevant without factual context. Similarly, empirical theories are sterile unless translated into corporate guidance. The following description of the history of research in corporate ethics demonstrates that normative research methods are indispensable tools for empirical inquiry, even as empirical methods are indispensable tools for normative inquiry.


Critical Thinking in Business Research  

Mark Loon

Critical thinking is more than just fault-finding—it involves a range of thinking processes, including interpreting, analyzing, evaluating, inferencing, explaining, and self-regulating. The concept of critical thinking emerged from the field of education; however, it can, and should, be applied to other areas, particularly to research. Like most skills, critical thinking can be developed. However, critical thinking is also a mindset or a disposition that enables the consistent use and application of critical thought. Critical thinking is vital in business research, because researchers are expected to demonstrate a systematic approach and cogency in the way they undertake and present their studies, especially if they are to be taken seriously and for prospective research users to be persuaded by their findings. Critical thinking can be used in the key stages of many typical business research projects, specifically: the literature review; the use of inductive, deductive, and abductive reasoning and the relevant research design and methodology that follows; and contribution to knowledge. Research is about understanding and explaining phenomena, which is usually the starting point to solve a problem or to take advantage of an opportunity. However, to gain new insights (or to claim to), one needs to know what is already known, which is why many research projects start with a literature review. A literature review is a systematic way of searching and categorizing literature that helps to build the researchers’ confidence that they have identified and recognized prevailing (explicit) knowledge relevant to the development of their research questions. In a literature review, it is the job of the researcher to examine ideas presented through critical thinking and to scrutinize the arguments of the authors. Critical thinking is also clearly crucial for effective reasoning. Reasoning is the way people rationalize and explain. However, in the context of research, the three generally accepted distinct forms of reasoning (inductive, deductive, and abductive) are more analogous to specific approaches to shape how the literature, research questions, methods, and findings all come together. Inductive reasoning is making an inference based on evidence that researchers have in possession and extrapolating what may happen based on the evidence, and why. Deductive reasoning is a form of syllogism, which is an argument based on accepted premises and involves choosing the most appropriate alternative hypotheses. Finally, abductive reasoning is starting with an outcome and working backward to understand how and why, and by collecting data that can subsequently be decoded for significance (i.e., Is the identified factor directly related to the outcome?) and clarified for meaning (i.e., How did it contribute to the outcome?). Also, critical thinking is crucial in the design of the research method, because it justifies the researchers’ plan and action in collecting data that are credible, valid, and reliable. Finally, critical thinking also plays a role when researchers make arguments based on their research findings to ensure that claims are grounded in the evidence and the procedures.


Effect Size and Effect Uncertainty in Organizational Research Methods  

Scott B. Morris and Arash Shokri

To understand and communicate research findings, it is important for researchers to consider two types of information provided by research results: the magnitude of the effect and the degree of uncertainty in the outcome. Statistical significance tests have long served as the mainstream method for statistical inferences. However, the widespread misinterpretation and misuse of significance tests has led critics to question their usefulness in evaluating research findings and to raise concerns about the far-reaching effects of this practice on scientific progress. An alternative approach involves reporting and interpreting measures of effect size along with confidence intervals. An effect size is an indicator of magnitude and direction of a statistical observation. Effect size statistics have been developed to represent a wide range of research questions, including indicators of the mean difference between groups, the relative odds of an event, or the degree of correlation among variables. Effect sizes play a key role in evaluating practical significance, conducting power analysis, and conducting meta-analysis. While effect sizes summarize the magnitude of an effect, the confidence intervals represent the degree of uncertainty in the result. By presenting a range of plausible alternate values that might have occurred due to sampling error, confidence intervals provide an intuitive indicator of how strongly researchers should rely on the results from a single study.


Entrepreneurial Teams  

Nicola Breugst

Entrepreneurial teams develop and exploit ideas in order to turn them into entrepreneurial ventures that they jointly own and manage. While these teams are crucial drivers for the success of their ventures, their work can be challenging because they operate under conditions of high autonomy, uncertainty, and interdependence. Thus, it is important to understand how entrepreneurial teams work together and jointly advance their ventures. Research has followed three overarching approaches to explore how entrepreneurial teams can succeed in their endeavors. First, one stream of research has aimed at connecting team inputs, such as team members’ experiences, to firm-level outcomes. In a second stream of research, scholars have focused on what happens within entrepreneurial teams in terms of team processes and emergent states. This approach has identified various mechanisms that translate inputs into outcomes. Third, an increasing number of studies have started to unravel the complexities that entrepreneurial teams experience in their work. Specifically, this research has considered the mutual influence of team members and has explored how teams work on their tasks and are shaped by this work. Despite these advancements, entrepreneurial team research faces numerous challenges arising from the complex interplay of team members and their ventures as well as from access to high-quality data. Because of these and other challenges, many research questions around entrepreneurial teams still need to be addressed to better understand their work. These emerging research efforts are likely to be facilitated by additional data sources, such as educational programs devoted to advancing entrepreneurial teams and modern technologies promising better access to rich data. Overall, entrepreneurial team research not only contributes to a more nuanced understanding of the entrepreneurial process but also provides support for these teams as they create and nurture their ventures.


Experience Sampling Methodology  

Joel Koopman and Nikolaos Dimotakis

Experience sampling is a method aimed primarily at examining within-individual covariation of transient phenomena utilizing repeated measures. It can be applied to test nuanced predictions of extant theories and can provide insights that are otherwise difficult to obtain. It does so by examining the phenomena of interest close to where they occur and thus avoiding issues with recall and similar concerns. Data collected through the experience sampling method (ESM) can, alternatively, be utilized to collect highly reliable data to investigate between-individual phenomena. A number of decisions need to be made when designing an ESM study. Study duration and intensity (that is, total days of measurement and total assessments per day) represent a tradeoff between data richness and participant fatigue that needs to be carefully weighed. Other scheduling options need to be considered, such as triggered versus scheduled surveys. Researchers also need to be aware of the generally high potential cost of this approach, as well as the monetary and nonmonetary resources required. The intensity of this method also requires special consideration of the sample and the context. Proper screening is invaluable; ensuring that participants and their context is applicable and appropriate to the design is an important first step. The next step is ensuring that the surveys are planned in a compatible way to the sample, and that the surveys are designed to appropriately and rigorously collect data that can be used to accomplish the aims of the study at hand. Furthermore, ESM data typically requires proper consideration in regards to how the data will be analyzed and how results will be interpreted. Proper attention to analytic approaches (typically multilevel) is required. Finally, when interpreting results from ESM data, one must not forget that these effects typically represent processes that occur continuously across individuals’ working lives—effect sizes thus need to be considered with this in mind.


Experimental Designs in Business Research  

Heiko Breitsohl

Conducting credible and trustworthy research to inform managerial decisions is arguably the primary goal of business and management research. Research design, particularly the various types of experimental designs available, are important building blocks for advancing toward this goal. Key criteria for evaluating research studies are internal validity (the ability to demonstrate causality), statistical conclusion validity (drawing correct conclusions from data), construct validity (the extent to which a study captures the phenomenon of interest), and external validity (the generalizability of results to other contexts). Perhaps most important, internal validity depends on the research design’s ability to establish that the hypothesized cause and outcome are correlated, that variation in them occurs in the correct temporal order, and that alternative explanations of that relationship can be ruled out. Research designs vary greatly, especially in their internal validity. Generally, experiments offer the strongest causal inference, because the causal variables of interest are manipulated by the researchers, and because random assignment makes subjects comparable, such that the sources of variation in the variables of interest can be well identified. Natural experiments can exhibit similar internal validity to the extent that researchers are able to exploit exogenous events creating (quasi-)randomized interventions. When randomization is not available, quasi-experiments aim at approximating experiments by making subjects as comparable as possible based on the best available information. Finally, non-experiments, which are often the only option in business and management research, can still offer useful insights, particularly when changes in the variables of interest can be modeled by adopting longitudinal designs.


Experiments in Organization and Management Research  

Alex Bitektine, Jeff Lucas, Oliver Schilke, and Brad Aeon

Experiments randomly assign actors (e.g., people, groups, and organizations) to different conditions and assess the effects on a dependent variable. Random assignment allows for the control of extraneous factors and the isolation of causal effects, making experiments especially valuable for testing theorized processes. Although experiments have long remained underused in organizational theory and management research, the popularity of experimental methods has seen rapid growth in the 21st century. Gatekeepers sometimes criticize experiments for lacking generalizability, citing their artificial settings or non-representative samples. To address this criticism, a distinction is drawn between an applied research logic and a fundamental research logic. In an applied research logic, experimentalists design a study with the goal of generalizing findings to specific settings or populations. In a fundamental research logic, by contrast, experimentalists seek to design studies relevant to a theory or a fundamental mechanism rather than to specific contexts. Accordingly, the issue of generalizability does not so much boil down to whether an experiment is generalizable, but rather whether the research design matches the research logic of the study. If the goal is to test theory (i.e., a fundamental research logic), then asking the question of whether the experiment generalizes to certain settings and populations is largely irrelevant.


Hypothesis Testing in Business Administration  

Rand R. Wilcox

Hypothesis testing is an approach to statistical inference that is routinely taught and used. It is based on a simple idea: develop some relevant speculation about the population of individuals or things under study and determine whether data provide reasonably strong empirical evidence that the hypothesis is wrong. Consider, for example, two approaches to advertising a product. A study might be conducted to determine whether it is reasonable to assume that both approaches are equally effective. A Type I error is rejecting this speculation when in fact it is true. A Type II error is failing to reject when the speculation is false. A common practice is to test hypotheses with the type I error probability set to 0.05 and to declare that there is a statistically significant result if the hypothesis is rejected. There are various concerns about, limitations to, and criticisms of this approach. One criticism is the use of the term significant. Consider the goal of comparing the means of two populations of individuals. Saying that a result is significant suggests that the difference between the means is large and important. But in the context of hypothesis testing it merely means that there is empirical evidence that the means are not equal. Situations can and do arise where a result is declared significant, but the difference between the means is trivial and unimportant. Indeed, the goal of testing the hypothesis that two means are equal has been criticized based on the argument that surely the means differ at some decimal place. A simple way of dealing with this issue is to reformulate the goal. Rather than testing for equality, determine whether it is reasonable to make a decision about which group has the larger mean. The components of hypothesis-testing techniques can be used to address this issue with the understanding that the goal of testing some hypothesis has been replaced by the goal of determining whether a decision can be made about which group has the larger mean. Another aspect of hypothesis testing that has seen considerable criticism is the notion of a p-value. Suppose some hypothesis is rejected with the Type I error probability set to 0.05. This leaves open the issue of whether the hypothesis would be rejected with Type I error probability set to 0.025 or 0.01. A p-value is the smallest Type I error probability for which the hypothesis is rejected. When comparing means, a p-value reflects the strength of the empirical evidence that a decision can be made about which has the larger mean. A concern about p-values is that they are often misinterpreted. For example, a small p-value does not necessarily mean that a large or important difference exists. Another common mistake is to conclude that if the p-value is close to zero, there is a high probability of rejecting the hypothesis again if the study is replicated. The probability of rejecting again is a function of the extent that the hypothesis is not true, among other things. Because a p-value does not directly reflect the extent the hypothesis is false, it does not provide a good indication of whether a second study will provide evidence to reject it. Confidence intervals are closely related to hypothesis-testing methods. Basically, they are intervals that contain unknown quantities with some specified probability. For example, a goal might be to compute an interval that contains the difference between two population means with probability 0.95. Confidence intervals can be used to determine whether some hypothesis should be rejected. Clearly, confidence intervals provide useful information not provided by testing hypotheses and computing a p-value. But an argument for a p-value is that it provides a perspective on the strength of the empirical evidence that a decision can be made about the relative magnitude of the parameters of interest. For example, to what extent is it reasonable to decide whether the first of two groups has the larger mean? Even if a compelling argument can be made that p-values should be completely abandoned in favor of confidence intervals, there are situations where p-values provide a convenient way of developing reasonably accurate confidence intervals. Another argument against p-values is that because they are misinterpreted by some, they should not be used. But if this argument is accepted, it follows that confidence intervals should be abandoned because they are often misinterpreted as well. Classic hypothesis-testing methods for comparing means and studying associations assume sampling is from a normal distribution. A fundamental issue is whether nonnormality can be a source of practical concern. Based on hundreds of papers published during the last 50 years, the answer is an unequivocal Yes. Granted, there are situations where nonnormality is not a practical concern, but nonnormality can have a substantial negative impact on both Type I and Type II errors. Fortunately, there is a vast literature describing how to deal with known concerns. Results based solely on some hypothesis-testing approach have clear implications about methods aimed at computing confidence intervals. Nonnormal distributions that tend to generate outliers are one source for concern. There are effective methods for dealing with outliers, but technically sound techniques are not obvious based on standard training. Skewed distributions are another concern. The combination of what are called bootstrap methods and robust estimators provides techniques that are particularly effective for dealing with nonnormality and outliers. Classic methods for comparing means and studying associations also assume homoscedasticity. When comparing means, this means that groups are assumed to have the same amount of variance even when the means of the groups differ. Violating this assumption can have serious negative consequences in terms of both Type I and Type II errors, particularly when the normality assumption is violated as well. There is vast literature describing how to deal with this issue in a technically sound manner.


Individualism-Collectivism: A Review of Conceptualization and Measurement  

Chao C. Chen and Ali F. Unal

The concept of individualism-collectivism (I-C) has been a prominent construct in philosophy, political science, sociology, psychology, and organization and management. Its meaning may vary greatly in scope, content, and levels of analysis, depending on the fields of inquiry and the phenomenon of interest. We focus on I-C as it relates to values, identities, motives, and behaviors in the context of organization and management. At its core, I-C is about self-collective relationships and the impact they have on the relational dynamics and outcomes at various levels of analysis. Theory and research have identified patterns of contrasts between individualism and collectivism. While the individualist orientation emphasizes individual self-identity, personal agency, and values that tend to prioritize individuals over collectives, the collectivist orientation emphasizes individuals’ collective identity, collective agency, and values that tend to prioritize collectives over individuals. Various I-C conceptions have been critically evaluated with the focus on basic assumptions regarding the nature of individualism and collectivism as unidimensional, bidimensional, or multidimensional constructs, and whether or not individualism and collectivism are conceived as inherently oppositional or complementary to form a high-order construct. Specifically, previous reviews of culture and value studies in general, and of I-C studies in particular, acknowledge the possibility that individualist and collectivist orientations may coexist within a diverse society, organization, or group, and that those orientations may change over time or evolve to tackle emergent survival challenges. However, most previous reviews continue to focus on the unitary construct of I-C composed of two entities as polar opposites of each other, the high of one meaning the low of the other. Over time, instead of or in addition to the initial unidimensional conception of I-C, research has adopted the bidimensional or multidimensional conceptions. Furthermore, more of bi- or multidimensional conceptions have adopted the unipolar approach. That is, maintaining I-C as a high-order construct, individualism and collectivism are conceived as independent dimensions of I-C, each varies on a separate continuum, making it possible that individuals, groups and societies may be categorized on the various combinations of individualism and collectivism. The advantages of the multidimensional approach have been emphasized, but issues of conceptual muddiness have also been raised, together with the challenges of theory-based research. It is recommended that I-C researchers be mindful of conceptual equivalence in developing I-C constructs and measurements and consider the optimal distinctiveness theory and the dialectic perspective as two potential overarching perspectives for comparative research on I-C. Finally, areas of future research have been identified as fertile fields for generating knowledge and understanding of I-C.


Inferential Statistics  

Rand R. Wilcox

Inferential statistical methods stem from the distinction between a sample and a population. A sample refers to the data at hand. For example, 100 adults may be asked which of two olive oils they prefer. Imagine that 60 say brand A. But of interest is the proportion of all adults who would prefer brand A if they could be asked. To what extent does 60% reflect the true proportion of adults who prefer brand A? There are several components to inferential methods. They include assumptions about how to model the probabilities of all possible outcomes. Another is how to model outcomes of interest. Imagine, for example, that there is interest in understanding the overall satisfaction with a particular automobile given an individual’s age. One strategy is to assume that the typical response Y , given an individuals age, X , is given by Y = β 0 + β 1 X , where the slope, β 1 , and intercept, β 0 , are unknown constants, in which case a sample would be used to make inferences about their values. Assumptions are also made about how the data were obtained. Was this done in a manner for which random sampling can be assumed? There is even an issue related to the very notion of what is meant by probability. Let μ denote the population mean of Y . The frequentist approach views probabilities in terms of relative frequencies and μ is viewed as a fixed, unknown constant. In contrast, the Bayesian approach views μ as having some distribution that is specified by the investigator. For example, it may be assumed that μ has a normal distribution. The point is that the probabilities associated with μ are not based on the notion of relative frequencies and they are not based on the data at hand. Rather, the probabilities associated with μ stem from judgments made by the investigator. Inferential methods can be classified into three types: distribution free, parametric, and non-parametric. The meaning of the term “non-parametric” depends on the situation as will be explained. The choice between parametric and non-parametric methods can be crucial for reasons that will be outlined. To complicate matters, the number of inferential methods has grown tremendously during the last 50 years. Even for goals that may seem relatively simple, such as comparing two independent groups of individuals, there are numerous methods that may be used. Expert guidance can be crucial in terms of understanding what inferences are reasonable in a given situation.