Do you often look at things differently?

Find yourself interested in misfits, and anomalies?

Prefer to party with outliers than handle the averages?


Call for application: Postdoc/PhD student- Outliers in management

Università della Svizzera italiana, Switzerland

Universiteit Utrecht, The Netherlands


We are seeking a Postdoctoral fellow/PhD student to work on the SNF funded project (How) are Outliers Used for Theory Building in Management and Organization Science? The Link Between Rigor and Impact in Deviant Case Analysis. The project envisions to extrapolate analytic strategies for investigating outliers in management research and discuss their relative methodological sophistication.

The successful candidate will be working with Prof. Michael Gibbert, Laboratory of Science Communication, Università della Svizzera italiana (Switzerland) and Dr. Lakshmi Balachandran Nair, Methodology and Statistics Department, Universiteit Utrecht (The Netherlands), in close collaboration with Prof. Martin Hoegl and Dr. Matthias Weiss, Institute for Leadership and Organization, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (Germany).

The applicant should have a solid basis in the philosophy of science both theoretically and practically, with demonstrated expertise in (preferably) both quantitative as well as qualitative analysis techniques. A strong background in the social and administrative sciences would be ideal.

Essential Skills

  • Strong background in quantitative methodology with reasonable experience in (and an open mind to) qualitative methods
  • Background in social and administrative sciences
  • A PhD in research methodology, or a PhD in social and administrative sciences with a strong focus on methodological issues (for Postdoctoral fellow)
  • Two or more publications in peer reviewed international journals (for Postdoctoral fellow)

Other desirable skills

  • Experience working in a qualitative methodology research project
  • Initiative to develop new areas of research within the group
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Proficiency in English
  • Ability to translate project results into high-quality research publications
  • Ability to work well in a team

Untitled1If this sounds like your cup of tea (or tequila), send a cover letter, complete curriculum vitae (with list of publications), and a statement of research to Michael Gibbert ( and Lakshmi Balachandran Nair ( While applications received before November 2016 will be given priority, the data collection will continue until a suitable outlier is found.





No one will read your dissertation

Hello All,

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:

Rigorous, transparent, and eye-catching: Exploring the universalistic parameters of impactful theory building in management

Hope you have a good read!



I have a PhD!

This is not a research post. Yet, it is all about my research so far. The people, and the papers.

The people

After four years of work, numerous conferences, and eight chapters of dissertation, I defended my dissertation successfully (with summa cum laude!) on April 12th, 2016. The journey so far had not been a cakewalk. I had moments when I questioned my ability to do a PhD at all, and other (better) times when I got way too excited about getting an article accepted at a conference or receiving a ‘revise and resubmit’ from a journal (which made my husband wonder if I am on Ritalin). And all throughout this, what kept me going was the love and support of a few good people: my husband, my supervisor, a few great colleagues and my dearest friends. Thank you, guys!! (I should probably thank them in person, yeah.)

…And to those of you who would rather hear more about the papers than my virtual declarations of gratitude, here we go! (This is gonna be a pretty long post.)

The papers

The originality of the idea, rigor of the study, and clarity of writing have been identified as the most significant universalistic parameters of scholarly impact. My dissertation sets out to do a detailed examination of these parameters. Our first empirical article focuses on case studies, points out different types of replication logic, and illustrate how their individual research actions have differential effects on the internal and external validity (in that order of priority) of the emerging theory.

In the next study, we extend the investigation to quantitative as well as qualitative research, and offers replication logic as a tool for analyzing deviant cases identified during the course of a qualitative or quantitative study. We call this technique the ‘Deviant Case Method’ (‘DCM’). Through this study, we explain the theoretical consequentiality (Aguinis et al., 2013; Cortina, 2002) of analyzing three different kinds of outliers (construct, model fit, and prediction outliers/ deviant cases) and offer DCM for analyzing prediction outliers/deviant cases.

In the third study, we extend this method to have a look at medium-N studies. Here we focus on inconsistent or deviant cases which turn up during a fuzzy set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fsQCA). We offer a method called ‘Comparative Outlier Analysis’ (‘COA’) which combines DCM and Mill’s canons (1875) to examine these multitude of inconsistent cases. We explicate this using exemplars from fields like politics, marketing, and education.

Unlike in other disciplines or methods, it is far from clear what the label ‘transparent research procedures’ constitutes in management field studies, with adverse effects during write-up, revision, and even after publication. To rectify this, in the fourth article, we review field studies across seven major management journals (1997-2006) in order to develop a transparency index, and link it to article impact.

Article 5 is a sequel to the previous chapter. We propose a new method for assessing the methodological rigor of grounded theory procedures ex-post using an audit trail perspective. While existing research on the methodological sophistication of grounded theory was typically done from the perspective of the author or producer of the research, our perspective is customer-centric, both in terms of the end-customer (i.e. the reader or other author), as well as the intermediate customer (i.e. reviewers and editors).

The last empirical article in the thesis, article 6, focuses on yet another parameter influencing impact: the style of academic writing. Specifically, we focus on the attributes of article titles and their subsequent influence on the citation count. At this early stage of theory development on article titles, we do this in the specific application context of management science.

Through theses six articles, the dissertation contributes to the discourse on generating and developing novel solutions for addressing the paucity of rigor, transparency, and clarity of reporting in the field of management. It demonstrates the prominence of the involved research inquiries either by illustrating their contributions with the help of exemplars or by indicating their relationship with scholarly impact in management.

Let’s talk about outliers: IMCA project proposal approved by SNF

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.



Image copyright: iStock Photo

Inconsistent cases in management fsQCA

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.

Let’s have a look at that inconsistent case!

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.