Remember my last post, the pretty long one? Well, I promise this one is really short. I have been going through some blog posts and articles, all of which assured me that no one is going to read my dissertation (or anyone’s, for that matter). But then, they also told me I should talk it out, teach it out, blog it out, walk it out, and drink it out. So, for the qualitative methods enthusiasts out there, and a couple of my friends who asked me if they can read it (thank you very much!), here it is:
The project proposal (How) are Outliers Used for Theory Building in Management and Organization Science? The Link Between Rigor and Impact in Deviant Case Analysis by IMCA members Prof. Michael Gibbert and PhD Candidate Lakshmi Balachandran Nair was approved by Swiss National Science Foundation.
This three year project targets the issue of inadequate utilization of outliers as theory building devices in management research, in comparison with other fields like biology, comparative politics, criminology etc. The project aims to rigorously and reliably identify outliers with the greatest theoretical potential, assess the methodological sophistication of outlier-analysis strategies used in exploiting this theoretical potential, and explore reasons, motivations, and constraints experienced by authors who report outliers yet forego their theoretical potential by not analyzing them further.
Beyond the immediate academic community, the potential contributions of the research include substantial implications for policy makers, funding agencies, and other stakeholders aiming at making most of invested funds and fostering rigorous research practice.
The idea to explore ‘article titles’ and their influence on scholarly community came up while we were working on a project examining the reporting standards of academic articles in management. We noticed that several other disciplines have thoroughly examined the attributes of article titles and sometimes, even their role in making the concerned articles more attractive to the intended audience. (Furthermore, it seemed like a fun project to work on!)
We find that only ‘non-alphanumeric characters’ and a ‘balanced’ title structure have small, but significant effects on citation count. Titles with non-alphanumeric characters appear to have a negative relationship with citation count, whereas the ones with balanced structure seem to have a slightly positive association. Surprisingly, attributes which tended to show significant effects in other disciplines (though often in opposite directions), such as length, context, and linguistic attributes exhibit no relationship with citation count. So next time you are thinking of an attractive title which would make your article more visible to the management scholars, keep in mind that a simple balanced structure with fewer colons might be the way to go!
Cases inconsistent with theoretical expectations are by default indicators for a lack of theory-data fit, and as such are prime candidates for theory building. However, the conventional tendency is to ignore inconsistent cases in Management research.
Our article- Analyzing inconsistent cases in Management fsQCA studies: A methodological manifesto(Nair, L. B., & Gibbert, M. 2016. Journal of Business Research, 69 (4), 1464–1470), focuses on the theory-building prowess of inconsistent or deviant cases which turn up during an fsQCA study. The study looks at some of the key tenets of QCA: A cross-tabulation of cause and effect can demonstrate superior explanatory completeness only if one can account for all cases (be they deviant or not). To improve the neat theory-data fit characteristic of QCA, the paper proposes two new strategies for analyzing inconsistent cases of necessity and sufficiency in fuzzy set QCA studies and discusses their contributions to methodological sophistication.