Evidence in Management and Organizational Science: Assembling the Field's Full Weight of Scientific Knowledge through Syntheses

Advanced Institute of Management Research Paper No. 067

78 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2008

See all articles by Denise M. Rousseau

Denise M. Rousseau

Carnegie Mellon University

Joshua Manning

Carnegie Mellon University

David Denyer

Cranfield University - Advanced Management Research Centre (AMRC)

Date Written: August 1, 2008

Abstract

This chapter advocates the good scientific practice of systematic research syntheses in Management and Organizational Science (MOS). A research synthesis is the systematic accumulation, analysis and reflective interpretation of the full body of relevant empirical evidence related to a question. It is the critical first step in effective use of scientific evidence. Synthesis is not a conventional literature review. Literature reviews are often position papers, cherry-picking studies to advocate a point of view. Instead, syntheses systematically identify where research findings are clear (and where they aren't), a key first step to establishing the conclusions science supports. Syntheses are also important for identifying contested findings and productive lines for future research. Uses of MOS evidence, that is, the motives for undertaking a research synthesis include scientific discovery and explanation, improved management practice guidelines, and formulating public policy. We identify six criteria for establishing the evidentiary value of a body of primary studies in MOS. We then pinpoint the stumbling blocks currently keeping the field from making effective use of its ever-expanding base of empirical studies. Finally, this chapter outlines a) an approach to research synthesis suitable to the domain of MOS and b) supporting practices to make synthesis a collective MOS project.

Suggested Citation

Rousseau, Denise M. and Manning, Joshua and Denyer, David, Evidence in Management and Organizational Science: Assembling the Field's Full Weight of Scientific Knowledge through Syntheses (August 1, 2008). Advanced Institute of Management Research Paper No. 067. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1309606 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1309606

Denise M. Rousseau (Contact Author)

Carnegie Mellon University ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

Joshua Manning

Carnegie Mellon University ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

David Denyer

Cranfield University - Advanced Management Research Centre (AMRC) ( email )

Cranfield MK43 OA1
United Kingdom

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