Doctoral thesis

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


257 p.

Thèse de doctorat: Università della Svizzera italiana, 2016 (jury note: Summa cum laude)

English In the management discipline, scholarly impact is most commonly measured using a researcher perspective, by counting the number of times a particular article is mentioned in the references section of other articles (Aguinis, Shapiro, Antonacopoulou, and Cummings, 2014). This approach conceptualizes scholarly impact using a measurable indicator, the citation count an article receives. Several studies have been conducted to examine what drives scholarly impact in the field of management. 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 (Judge, Colbert, Cable, and Rynes, 2007). This dissertation sets out to do a detailed examination of these parameters. The six articles included in the thesis do so in two ways: either by offering recommendations for improving these universalistic parameters of scholarly impact or by further exploring the relationship between the universalistic parameters and scholarly impact. Our first empirical article, here relayed in Chapter II, focuses on case studies, and analyzes the methodological rigor of all case studies published during the period 1996-2006. We point 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. Chapter III follows up on the previous chapter, extending 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 Chapter IV, 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 Chapter V, we review field studies across seven major management journals (1997- 2006) in order to develop a transparency index, and link it to article impact. Chapter VI 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, Chapter VII, 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. We conclude with Chapter VIII where we sum up the findings and implications of all preceding studies and put forth suggestions for future research.
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