Archives for June 2011

Improving the transparency of management research

Tweet The last three posts have described the susceptibility of management research to distortion – confusing correlation for causality, suffering from historians’ fallacies and disregarding inherent bias in the data collected. This susceptibility suggests that the posited conclusions of any management research should be treated with an extra dose of scepticism (over and above the normal levels of scepticism required to maintain the focus on refutation that defines the scientific method) especially by the channels that communicate these conclusions to the managerial classes. But this sceptical perspective appears to be missing. The term management ‘science’ is a bit misleading as… Read more

Are tougher rules on disclosure required in management science?

Tweet In January 2010, the American Economic Association (AEA) agreed to establish a committee “to consider the Association’s existing disclosure and other ethical standards and potential extensions to those standards.”  The move was sparked by two things.  Firstly a study by Jerry Epstein and Jessica Carrick-Hagenberth had shown that economists who speak on financial regulatory matters do not always reveal their ties to financial companies; and the authors had sent a petition, signed by over 300 economists, to the President of the AEA urging the establishment of such a review.  In addition, Charles Ferguson’s new film Inside Job had brought to more public attention the issue… Read more

Bias in management research

Tweet This third is the post on the subject of why the conclusions of management research are less scientific than the authors would have you believe; and it expands on the subject of bias. This influences research findings in two ways – in the perspectives of those people doing the research and the survival-instinct of those they interview. Confirmation bias At the root of researcher bias is the author’s desire to find something new and original that will merit publication in esteemed journals. As a result, pet theories receive far more weight than they deserve due to confirmation bias. Findings… Read more

How genuinely scientific is ‘scientific’ management?

Tweet As my last few posts have described (for example), viagra sale management researchers can harness positive perceptions of science to give their findings greater intellectual standing without adopting the requisite rigour.  In the same way, impotent the adjective ‘scientific’ is frequently prefixed to management as a signifier of merit – the right way to manage.   Scientific management has been around for over a century, its father being Frederick Winslow Taylor, who set up a consulting practice to spread his ideas about manufacturing efficiency in the last decade of the 19th Century. Since Taylor’s time, the idea that scientific management… Read more