Course Outline Fall 2008
Research and Theory in Business: Behavioral Science
Professors Barry Staw and David Levine
Time: Tuesday 2-5, Place: F555
This course addresses the fundamentals of behavioral research: theory, research design, methods and criticism. It is designed for doctoral students who wish to undertake research publishable in scholarly journals. Little or no background in scientific training is assumed. Statistics will not be emphasized; however, familiarity with elementary statistical concepts will prove useful.
In the seminar, the student role will encompass the following requirements:
1. Preparation of two small “practice papers” on developing a research question (Mini 1 and Mini 2) and methodological skills (Mini 3-7).
2. Identification and elaboration of a question that you wish to study in some depth. After you have specified your question (Project 1), you will begin work on several different methodological approaches to testing it. You will be asked to specify the design for an experiment (Project 2), an ethnographic or case study (Project 3), and an archival or survey research study (Project 4). Finally, you will put these three methodologically diverse studies together into a larger paper, showing how your three proposed studies will add new knowledge to the field.
3. Lead discussion on subtopics and issues within the seminar. Each person will be responsible for presentation of ideas and leading class discussion for a number of articles and sub-areas. The exact nature of this presentation and dates will be determined in the seminar.
4. The course will be conducted as a workshop in which each student’s projects will be discussed throughout the semester. It is therefore important for members of the seminar to be active (and constructively critical) participants throughout the term.
Text: Approaches to Social Research (ASR), by
R. Singleton and B. Straits. 4th Edition.
1. 9/2 Preliminaries (STAW & LEVINE)
§ Scientific method (LEVINE)
2. 9/9 Selecting a Research Topic and Making a Creative Contribution (STAW)
Mini 1 Due; Project 1 presentations in class
3. 9/16 Building Theory (STAW)
Mini 2 Due; Project 1 presentations in class
4. 9/23 Some General Research Issues: Dilemmas, Constructs, and Ethics
Project 1 write-up due
5. 9/30 Laboratory Experiments and Judgment Tasks (STAW)
Field Experiments: Planned and Natural (STAW)
Project 2 presentations in class
7. 10/14 Ethnographic and Case Studies (STAW)
Project 2 write-up due
Project 3 presentations in class
8. 10/21 Introduction to Archival Research: Identifying Causality (LEVINE)
Mini 3 due
Project 3 write-up due
9. 10/28 Archival #2: Identification (LEVINE)
Mini 4 due
10. 11/4 Archival #3: Measurement error and outliers (LEVINE)
Mini 5 due
11. 11/11 Survey & interviews (LEVINE) [INSTEAD OF THANKSGIVING]
Project 4 presentations in class
Mini 6 due
12. 11/18 Peer Effects (LEVINE)
Project 4 write-up due
Mini 7 due
11/25 Thanksgiving break (INFORMALLY)
Publishing and Career Issues (LEVINE & STAW)
14. 12/9 Wrap-up & Trade-offs in Research Design (LEVINE & STAW)
Week 2 (
ASR, Chapters 1 and 2
Becker, H.S. (1967). Whose Side Are We On? Social Problems, 14, 239-247.
Csikszenlmihaly, J. (1988).
Society, Culture & the Person. In R.
Sternberg (ed.), The Nature of Creativity,
Weisberg, R. (1993). Creativity: Beyond the Myth of Genius. NY: W.H. Freeman, 1-25.
Amabile, T.M. (1990). Within you, without you: The social psychology of creativity, and beyond. In M. Runco & R. Albert (eds.), Theories of Creativity, Sage Publications, pp. 61-91.
Simonton, D.K. (1993). Genius and chance: A Darwinian perspective. In J. Brockman (ed.) Creativity. Touchstone, pp. 176-201.
Mini 1: Locating Theoretical Outcroppings, due Week 2, 1-2 pages.
Use a newspaper article (from the past three weeks) to come up with a new behavioral theory or an alteration/refinement of an existing theory. Don’t worry about sounding foolish or outlandish. This is an opportunity to be creative. Describe the facts from the newspaper article and show how they can be used to infer a more general relationship operating at the societal, organizational or individual level. Alternatively, explain how the article suggests a way to refine an existing theory. For example, does the article imply that the theory is especially applicable to particular contexts or is somehow limited to particular individuals, organizations, or industries? Should such a theory be refined in a way that it includes different variables or an altered relationship among its variables?
No matter whether you choose to build new theory or refine an existing theory, make sure to identify the unit of analysis as well as the independent and dependent variables. Also, be sure to specify the mechanism or causal process underlying the relationship between independent and dependent variables (that is, why such a relationship occurs). State at least a couple of hypotheses that could be tested with future research.
ASR, Chapter 3
Vandivier, K. (1979). Why should my conscience bother me? In R. Kanter & B. Stein (eds.), Life in Organizations. Basic Books.
Weick, K.E. (1989). Theory
Construction as Disciplined Imagination,
Weick, K.E. (1974). Amendments to
McGuire, W.J. (1983). A contextualist theory of knowledge: Its implications for innovation and reform in psychological research. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 16: pp. 9-47.
McGuire, W.J. (1997). Creative Hypothesis generating in psychology: Some useful heuristics. Annual Review of Psychology, 48: 1-30.
Staw, B. (1985). Repairs on the Road to Relevance and Rigor: Some Unexplored Issues in Publishing Organizational Research. In Frost and Cummings (eds.), Publishing in the Organizational Sciences, Irwin.
Mini 2: Drawing Theoretical Inferences, due Week 3, 2-3 pages.
Use the Vandiver article, “Why should my conscience bother me?” as source material for building a theory of illegal (or unethical) behavior. List at least five hypotheses that you can infer from the Vandiver description of events at Goodrich. Then, take at least 2 or 3 of these hypotheses and try to integrate them into a larger theoretical framework or model of illegal behavior.
4. (9/23/08): Some General Research Issues: Dilemmas, Constructs, and Ethics (STAW)
ASR, Chapters 4, 16.
McGrath, J. (1981). Dilemmatics: The study of research choices and dilemmas. American Behavioral Scientist, 25, pp 179-210.
Webb, E. & Weick, K. (1979). Unobtrusive Measurement: A Reminder. Administrative Science Quarterly, 24, 650-659.
Mook, D.G. (1983). In defense of external invalidity. American Psychologist, 38, 379-387.
Campbell, D.T., & Fiske, D.W. (1959). Convergent and discriminant validation by the multitrait-multimethod matrix. Psychological Bulletin, 56, 81-105.
Stone-Romero, E. (1994). Construct validity issues in organizational behavior research. In. J. Greenberg (ed.), Organizational Behavior: The State of the Science. Erlbaum Publishers, pp. 155-179.
Milgram, S. (1963). Behavioral study of obedience. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 67, 371-78.
Kifner, J. (2001). Scholar sets off gastronomic false alarm. New York Times, A1, A12.
ASR, chapter 6, 7.
Aronson, E. (1984). Experimentation in social psychology. In G. Lindzey and E. Aronson (Eds.), Handbook of Social Psychology: Vol. 1, Random House, pp. 441-446.
Zelditch, M. (1969). Can You Really Study an Army in the Laboratory? In A. Etzioni (ed.), A Sociological Reader on Complex Organizations (second edition). Holt Rinehart & Winston.
Gergen, K. (1978). Experimentation in social psychology: A reappraisal. European Journal of Social Psychology, 8, 507-527.
Sears, D.O. (1986). College sophomores in the laboratory: Influences of a narrow data base on social psychology’s view of human nature. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 515-530.
Orne, M.T. (1962). On the social psychology of the psychological experiment: With particular reference to demand characteristics and their implications. American Psychologist, 17, 776-781
Tiedens. L. (2001). Anger and advancement versus sadness and subjugation: The effect of negative emotion expressions on social status conferral. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80, 86-94.
Kahneman, D., Knetsch, J. & Thaler, R. (1986). Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market. American Economic Review, September.
Arkes, H. & Blumer, C. (1985). The psychology of sunk costs. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 35, 124-140.
J. & Batson, C.D. (1973). From
Knox, R. & Inkster. (1968). Postdecision dissonance at post time. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 8,319-323.
Staw, B. (1974). Attitudinal and Behavioral Consequences of Changing a Major Organizational Reward: A Natural Field Experiment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 29, 742-751
Smith, F. (1977). Work attitudes as predictors of attendance on a specific day. Journal of Applied Psychology, 62, 16-19.
Greenberg, J. (1990). Employee theft as a reaction to underpayment inequity: the hidden cost of pay cuts. Journal of Applied Psychology, 75, 561-568.
Salancik, G. (1979). Field stimulations for organizational behavior research. Administrative Science Quarterly, 24, 638-649.
Medvec, V.H., S.F. Madey, and T. Gilovich (1995). When Less is More: Counterfactual Thinking and Satisfaction among Olympic Medalists. JPSP 69, 601-610.
ASR, Evaluation Research, chapter 13.
ASR, Chapter 10.
Hochschild, A. (1983). Feeling Management: From Private to Commercial Uses. Chapter 6 of The Managed Heart.
Perlow, P. (1999). The time famine: Toward a sociology of work time. Administrative Science Quarterly, 44, 57-81.
Yin, R.K. Case Study Research. Sage Publications, pp. 84-152.
David, P. (1985). Clio and the economics of QWERTY. American Economic Review, 75, 332-337.
Ross, J. & Staw, B. (1986). Expo 86: An Escalation Prototype. Administrative Science Quarterly, 23, 40-64.
1. 10/21 Introduction to Archival Research: Identifying Causality (LEVINE)
Instrumental variables and “natural experiments”
* Joshua D. Angrist, “Lifetime Earnings and the Vietnam Era Draft Lottery: Evidence from Social Security Administrative Records,” The American Economic Review Vol. 80, No. 3 (Jun., 1990), Stable URL: http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0002-8282%28199006%2980%3A3%3C313%3ALEATVE%3E2.0.CO%3B2-H
Q: What is the key identifying
assumption of the model? Do you believe
Angrist has correctly measured the causal effect of
* Kane, Thomas J. and Cecilia Elena
Rouse. 1995. "Labor-Market Returns to Two- and
Q: What is the key identifying assumption of the model? Do you believe the authors have correctly measured the causal effect of junior college on earnings?
* Jeffrey Grogger and Greg Ridgeway, “Testing for Racial Profiling in Traffic Stops From Behind a Veil of Darkness,” Journal of the American Statistical Association September 2006, Vol. 101, No. 475, http://www.rand.org/pubs/reprints/2007/RAND_RP1253.pdf
Q: What is the key identifying assumption of the model? Do you believe the authors have correctly measured the causal effect of race on traffic stops?
Mini 3: Identification with natural experiments, due Week 8, 2-3 pages.
As a class: Identify 6 “natural experiments” related to organizational behavior or business and public policy. Relate two or more of them to a theory.
Hints: Natural experiments can involve
§ true randomization (lottery winners, draft lotteries)
§ very big shocks (a new policy)
§ accidents (programming error admits people “below the line”)
§ peculiarities of policies or management programs
§ phase in of a program
2. (10/28) Archival #2: Identification (LEVINE)
Mini 4 due
* Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer, “Use of Randomization in the Evaluation of Development Effectiveness,” http://www.iadb.org/sds/doc/KREMERDevEffectivenessDuflo.pdf
* John E. Dinardo and David Lee “The Impact of Unionization on Establishment Closure: A Regression Discontinuity Analysis of Representation Elections.” http://www.econ.puc-rio.br/pdf/seminario/nber8993.pdf
Do not emphasize the model in section 3.2, but stare at Figures Ia and Ib.
Q: What is the key identifying assumption of the model? Do you believe the authors have correctly measured the causal effect of unionization?
* Francois Degeorge, Jayendu Patel, and Richard Zeckhauser, “Earnings Management to Exceed Thresholds.” The Journal of Business, Vol. 72, No. 1 (Jan., 1999), pp. 1-33. http://www.jstor.org/sici?sici=0021-9398(1999)72:1%3C1:EMTET%3E2.0.CO;2-
“Estimating the Effect of Financial Aid Offers on College Enrollment: A Regression–Discontinuity Approach.” Wilbert van der Klaauw International Economic Review, Vol 43, Issue 4, Pages 1249-1287 http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/118907837/abstract
Mini 4: Identification with regression discontinuities, due Week 9, 2-3 pages.
As a class, identify 4 “discontinuities” related to organizational behavior or business and public policy. Relate two or more of them to a theory.
§ When does a small difference in performance, earnings, age, organizational revenue or employment, location, etc. affect eligibility for a program, applicability of a law, winning a prize, being listed on a visible list, etc.?
3. 11/4 Measurement error and outliers (LEVINE)
Mini 5 due
* Approaches to Social Research, chapter 5 “Measurement.”
Mini 5: Identification with randomization, due Week 10, 2-3 pages.
Explain how you could talk to an organization or policy-maker to implement a field experiment that would shed light on a question of interest. Explain what would be randomized and what you would learn.
§ Can you find a program that has or could have excess demand? If so, perhaps randomize who gets in first or the order of expanding the program.
§ Can you find a program that has or could have excess supply? If so, perhaps randomize who gets extra encouragement (more marketing, a discount coupon, etc.).
4. (11/11) Survey & interviews (LEVINE) [INSTEAD OF THANKSGIVING]
* Approaches to Social Research, chapters 9-10 “Survey Research” & “Survey Instrumentation”
* Dillman, Don A., Mail and Internet Surveys, second edition (updated), 2007.
Note: You will each be responsible for summarizing a chapter into a single page checklist of good practices.
Mini 6: Surveys, due Week 11, 2-3 pages.
Find a survey question or section or a psychological instrument that measures a construct you care about (e.g, compensation or satisfaction or diversity or…). Critique that measure. Identify a test of its validity. Propose an improvement.
5. (11/18) Peer Effects (LEVINE)
Project 4 presentations in class
Mini 7 due
* Manski, Charles F., “Economic Analysis of Social Interactions,” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 14, 3, 2000: 115-136, esp. from page 127 on. http://www.scasss.uu.se/IIS2005/total_webb/tot_html/papers/JEP_2000.pdf
* Jonathan Crane “The Epidemic Theory of Ghettos and Neighborhood Effects on Dropping Out and Teenage Childbearing” The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 96, No. 5 (Mar., 1991), pp. 1226-1259
Stare at Fig. 1. What causality does Crane claim underlies that correlation? What are other leading contenders? Does Crane convince you his causal story is most important?
What causality does
What causality do the authors claim underlies why a productive worker raises other workers’ productivity? What are other leading contenders? Do the authors convince you their causal story is most important?
Susan E. Mayer and Christopher Jencks, “Growing Up in Poor Neighborhoods: How Much Does It Matter?” Science, 1989 vol:243 iss:4897 pg:1441 http://www.jstor.org/sici?sici=0036-8075(1989)243:4897%3C1441:GUIPNH%3E2.0.CO;2-
Mini 7: Peer effects, due Week 12, 2-3 pages.
Answer A or B:
A) High tech companies open up near where high tech companies are already located. What does this fact tell us about peer effects, role models, information flows, norms, or legitimacy? Why? What are 2 non-sociological factors that might make high-tech concentrate in a region? What added data would help you determine if one or more of the sociological channels were important in the location decisions of high tech companies?
B) Teenagers in the same high school often tend to have high academic achievement (so the vast majority of students graduate and most go to college) or have low academic achievement (with high rates of dropout, arrest, and teen pregnancy). What does this correlation tell us about peer effects, role models, information flows, norms or legitimacy? Why? What are 2 non-sociological factors that might make academic achievement correlated in a school? What added data would help you determine if one or more of the sociological channels were important in the academic achievement of teens?
11/25 Thanksgiving break (INFORMALLY)
Project 4 write-up
ASR, chapters 12, 17.
Daft, R. (1995). Why I recommended that your manuscript be rejected and what you can do about it. In L.L. Cummings & P.J. Frost (eds.) Publishing in the Organizational Sciences. 2nd edition, Sage.
Schneider, B. (1995). Some propositions about getting research published. In L.L. Cummings & P.J. Frost (eds.) Publishing in the Organizational Sciences. 2nd edition, Sage.
Perrow, C. (1995). Journaling careers. In L.L. Cummings & P.J. Frost (eds.) Publishing in the Organizational Sciences. 2nd edition, Sage.
Excerpts from Rejected: Economists Discuss the World of Publishing.
Glick, W.H, Miller, C.C., & Cardinal, L.B. (2007). Making a life in the field of organizational science. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 28, 817-835.
Taylor, S.E. & Martin, J. (2004). In J.M. Darley, M.P. Zanna, & H.L. Roediger (Eds.) The Compleat Academic: A career Guide. American Psychological Assoc, 363-393.
14. (12/9) Wrap-up & Trade-offs in Research Design (LEVINE & STAW)
Project No. 1: Constructing Your Theory, presentation during Weeks 2-3,
write-up due Week 4, 4-6 pages.
This assignment asks you to define a research problem, outline a theoretical explanation for the phenomenon at the heart of the research problem, and develop several testable hypotheses. Subsequent assignments will ask you to design several different types of research investigations of this problem. You therefore should try to develop the theoretical underpinnings of your research problem sufficiently so that it can guide future research design decisions and the development of additional hypotheses.
The following format may be useful:
I. Research question: This typically takes the form, “Why is it that...?”
a. Identify the dependent variable(s) -- define them.
b. Identify the unit of analysis -- define it.
c. Describe how you think the dependent variable varies or changes -- i.e., describe the phenomenon under investigation.
a. Provide a general argument that represents what you think is going on. This should be the rationale for the theory.
b. Present a hypothesis, or set of hypotheses, that are bivariate correlational statements and (usually) have a cause-and-effect logic (i.e., “if X, then Y”).
c. Summarize your rationale as best you can with a set of more abstract propositions from which the hypotheses can be deduced.
III. Thwarting the skeptic
State an alternative explanation and provide a very brief rationale for the superiority of yours over these alternatives. Also, consider additional tests you could do to demonstrate that your theory is a better explanation than competing ones.
Project No. 2: Experimental Design, presentation during class on Week 6, write-up due Week 76, 4-6 pages.
Congratulations! You have been awarded a grant to test your theory. The funding agency now wants an experimental design (conducted either in the lab or field). They expect you to be true to the problem, hypotheses, and rationales submitted in your original proposal. You must justify any 2changes in the problem or the theory. Unrequested changes may jeopardize your funding and/or cause you professional embarrassment.
Suggested topics to include in your presentation and paper:
1. Definition of the unit of analysis and each of the variables involved in the design.
2. Describe the design in experimental jargon (pretest-postest control group design, Solomon 4-group, etc.) Why did you select it?
3. Discuss internal validity issues that may arouse criticism.
4. Describe your experiment in operational terms; that is:
a. Who will be the subjects for the experiment?
b. What will be the context or situation surrounding the experiment?
c. How will the experimental task be designed?
d. How will the experimental treatment(s) be administered? How many variables and what levels for each will be manipulated?
5. How will you measure the dependent variables in the experiment?
6. Will there be any control variables, and how will you measure them?
7. How will you determine if your hypotheses are supported? What are the possible outcomes?
8. What are the design’s weaknesses?
Project No. 3: Ethnographic or Case Study Research, presentation in class Week 7, write-up due Week 8, 4-6 pages.
As your grant award officer was having lunch with a colleague from another large agency, your research project was discussed. As it happens, this second funding agency is seriously interested in either an ethnographic or case study (quantitative or qualitative) on the issues covered by your research. In fact, they would like to see a preliminary research design that includes the following elements:
1. Description and justification of proposed research methods.
2. Discussion of the sampling problems (in time and space) that are present in such studies.
3. Discussion of problems of validity, particularly selective information.
4. Discussion of how you will gain access to the “data”; how will you record it?
5. Discussion of how you will know if your hypotheses are supported. How would you convince a skeptic?
6. Discussion of expected final report and the form it will take.
Project No. 4: Archival or Survey Research, presentation in class Week 11, write-up due Week 12, 4-6 pages.
The review process at your original granting agency is backlogged and you are running out of funds. Fortunately, another agency is interested in your problem, but they cannot duplicate previously proposed research. Their Director of Research calls and requests a new design using either an archival or survey research design. She wants to see a preliminary research design that includes the following elements:
6. Description and justification of proposed research methods.
7. Discussion of causal identification
8. Discussion of sampling and measurement issues.
9. Discussion of how you will gain access to the data.
10. Discussion of how will you analyze your data. What patterns would you expect to see?
11. Discussion of how you will know if your hypotheses are supported. How would you convince a skeptic?
12. Discussion of expected final report and the presentation of results.
No. 5: Integration and Justification of Proposed Research Projects due
The good news is that all three of your projects were funded. The bad news is that the Office of Management & Budget (OMB) noticed that you have three grants from three different agencies, all of which concern the same research problem. They are concerned about duplication and duplicity, and have impounded your awards until you can justify the three projects. The auditor assigned to your case is a sophisticated social scientist and has requested a discussion of the relationships among the three projects. He wants you to compare and contrast the three research designs in terms of the answers that they will provide. He wants to know which design will arouse the most interest in the field and why. Finally, he is concerned that the designs lead to cumulative knowledge. He would like to see a sequence of design decisions based on the outcomes of each prior investigation. He realizes that this request may lead to design modifications, but warns that your budget will be adjusted accordingly.
Put the theory and the three proposed studies into a single paper. Show how these three studies can effectively test the theory you have outlined and how, together, they will add new knowledge to the field.