How Can Significance Tests Be Deinstitutionalized?

Organizational Research Methods, Forthcoming

52 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2012

See all articles by Marc Orlitzky

Marc Orlitzky

University of South Australia - School of Management

Date Written: December 1, 2011


The purpose of this paper is to propose possible solutions to the methodological problem of null hypothesis significance testing (NHST), which is framed as deeply embedded in the institutional structure of the social and organizational sciences. The core argument is that, for the deinstitutionalization of statistical significance tests, minor methodological changes within an unreformed epistemology will be as unhelpful as emotive exaggerations of the ill effects of NHST. Instead, several institutional-epistemological reforms affecting cultural-cognitive, normative, and regulative processes and structures in the social sciences are necessary and proposed in this paper. In the conclusion, the suggested research reforms, ranging from greater emphasis on inductive/abductive reasoning to statistical modeling and Bayesian epistemology, are classified according to their practical importance and the time horizon expected for their implementation. Individual-level change in researchers' use of NHST is unlikely if it is not facilitated by these broader epistemological changes.

Keywords: Epistemology, neoinstitutional theory, null hypothesis significance testing, quantitative methods, sociology of science, statistical significance test

JEL Classification: B40, C12

Suggested Citation

Orlitzky, Marc, How Can Significance Tests Be Deinstitutionalized? (December 1, 2011). Organizational Research Methods, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Marc Orlitzky (Contact Author)

University of South Australia - School of Management ( email )


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